He was determined to return to Atlanta and win The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race after finishing fifth a year ago.
Mission accomplished: With a time of 28:45, Lagat won the 2018 Peachtree.
“I want to come back again, and I want to win this,” Lagat said, recalling his mindset. “So I trained so hard. I decided not to race in the other race before this. My last race was in March. From March until this, there’s a lot of races I missed. But I thought it was worth the sacrifice.”
Lagat, a five-time Olympian, prepared for the hill challenges presented in the course. He had a much deeper understanding of it than a year ago.
He edged his cousin, Haron Lagat, by three seconds. Tyler Pennel finished third (28:49).
“I really wanted this,” Lagat said. “When I came, I said I’m going to go to the coast. Other people were going, ‘Why are you going? You were there last year.’ And I’m like, ‘I want to see it again.’ Because it was like so many places I didn’t know last year. I didn’t know what kind of strategies I would use in order for me to get an advantage.”
Lagat, 43, said he knew he hit the four-mile mark when they crossed the bridge. So he ran the next mile as if the race was going to end at mile five (the race is 6.2 miles), because it was the only hill.
That proved successful. When they hit the last mile, he knew he would finish at least third. He stayed with fellow multi-time Olympian Lopez Lomong, which he said added motivation, before passing him.
Gabriel Burns is a general assignment reporter and features writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. After four years on the Braves beat, he's expanded his horizons and covers all sports. You'll find him writing about MLB, NFL, NBA, college football and other Atlanta-centric happenings.