World Indoor Champs, 2010: Day 1, Session 2, Men's 3,000m-Lagat, Rupp advance, by Larry Eder

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Bernard Lagat, Galen Rupp, World Indoor Champs, Qatar, Doha, 2010. How will the WIC 3,000 meter final go? Photo by PhotoRun.net.

The men's 3,000 meters is the longest event on the WC schedule and one of the toughest. The rounds were like fartlek workouts, and even the consumate racer, Bernard Lagat, admitted the unevenness of the pace was disconcerting....

Men's 3,000 meters

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Bernard Lagat, World Indoor Champs, Doha, Qatar, 2010, photo by PhotoRun.net.

heat 1, DYNAMO Choge!

Augustine Choge is a racer. Two weeks ago, he took Deresse Mekonnen, the defending 1,500 meter champion from Valencia, to the wire in the AVIVA GP 1,500 and they both broke 3:34! Today, Choge took no chances. With a fast early pace guaranteed by Sergio Sanchez, Choge and Dejen Gebremeskel just stayed close.

Fortunately for Choge, he did not have to lead early on. Sergio Sanchez, the World leader at 2,000 meters this season (4;54) and the new European record holder at 3,000 meters, lead the pack through one kilometer (2;35.28).

Mr. Sanchez looked a bit miffed, beneath his protective eyewear, as the entire field was more than happy to follow Sanchez. Sanchez lead through the 2,000 meter mark, in 5:15.02 (a 2:40 second kilometer), but in protest.

After this Augustine Choge, just, well, took off. Choge just did that DYNAMO hum thing, increasing the pace each of the last five laps, as he ran the fastest kilometer of the race, in the 2:27 area!

Augustine Choge took the heat in 7:43.80, the fastest ever round in a World Indoor Championships (thanks to the stats work of one K. Ken Nakamura!). Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia followed, in 7:44.26, his personal best. Sergio Sanchez of Spain held on, in third, in 7:44.33. James Kwalia C'Kurui of Qatar set a national record, running 7:45.44 for fourth. Hicham Bellani of Morocco, finishing fifth, in 7:50.46, was the last qualifer from this heat.


heat 2:

This round was a tough one. Slow, erratic pacing, for first two kilometers, then the fastest last kilometer of the both rounds!
Scott Overall of Great Britain led through the kilometer mark, in 2:46.14.

Right on Overall's shoulder, was Tariku Bekele, the younger brother of Kenenisa Bekele, the world record holder at 5,000m and 10,000m outdoors. Bekele took the second kilometer through 5:33.60, which was just about the same pace as the first kilometer (actually a bit slower, 2:47.46).

Right on Bekele's shoulder were Bernard Lagt, Sammy Alex Mutahi of Kenay, Jesus Espana of Spain and Galen Rupp of the U.S.

The pace was not fast early on, so, if the there were going to be more than four moving on, they better run the last kilo fast!

Running the last kilometer in 2:26.30, Bernard Lagat won the heat in 7:59.99, with Tariku Bekele running 8:00.29 for second. In third, Sammy Alex Mutahi took third in 8:00.53, with Jesus Espana of Spain finishing fourth in 8:00.65.

Galen Rupp stayed in the fight, and finished fifth in 8:00.90.
In sixth, the final qualifier for the final was Essa Ismail Rashed of Qatar, in 8:01.08.

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Galen Rupp, World Indoor Champs, 2010, Doha, Qatar, photo by PhotoRun.net

This was a sobering race for both Lagat and Rupp, I believe. Bernard mentioned afterwards, in the mixed zone, that he was uncomfortable with the uneven pacing. Rupp was in good position all of the way, he just did not move as fast over the last lap. (Rupp had run a 3:58 mile and 1:50.64 last Saturday, perhaps he was feeling that). The day off should give all the runners some time to recover.

My turn: I think that the battle for first is between Bernard Lagat and Augustine Choge. Bekele, Sanchez are in the fight. If the pace is slow, Jesus Espana is deadly. Galen Rupp will be in the battle, but there are six real contenders for the medals, this should be a great final!

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