Arizona Athletics

Olympic distance runner Bernard Lagat named Arizona cross country coach

Information for this report provided by the Arizona media relations department:

 Legendary distance runner Bernard Lagat has been named head coach of the Arizona cross country program and will remain an assistant track & field coach, the school announced Wednesday.

Lagat served as an assistant coach for both cross country and track & field this season.

“It is an incredible honor to have one of the world’s all-time great runners lead our storied distance program here at Arizona,” director of track & field and cross country Fred Harvey said. “Bernard is a true legend in the world of distance running and his knowledge and personality will draw the best runners in the world to the University of Arizona. Historically, we have one of the best distance programs in America, and I believe Bernard will take us to that level.”

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This past cross country season, Lagat helped Victor Ortiz-Rivera earn first-team All-Pac-12 cross country honors after finishing in sixth place at the Pac-12 championships and qualifying for the NCAA cross country championships.

“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to coach the cross country and track & field programs here at the University of Arizona,” Lagat said. “I have lived and trained in Tucson for almost twenty years and I truly believe this is the best place for a runner to train year-round. I am excited to pass my experiences to the next generation of Wildcats.”

Lagat has nearly as many American records (six) as he has wins in the Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games (8). His 2010 season included becoming the first ever American to win both the 3000m and 5000m at the IAAF Continental Cup while setting the American record in the indoor and outdoor 3000m and outdoor 5000m.

He now stands alone in the Millrose Games record book with his eight Wanamaker Mile wins and surpassed Irish legend Eamonn Coghlan’s previous best total of seven wins.

In 2007, Lagat won the first ever gold medal by an American in the 1500m at the World Outdoor Championships and the first Olympic or World Championships gold for the country since 1908. He also became the first man ever to win the 1500m-5000m double at World Outdoors, and the first American to win a World Championship medal of any kind at 5000m.

In winning both races at the 2006 USA Outdoor Championships, he become the first man ever to pull off the historic double. In 2006 Lagat posted the five-fastest 1500m times by an American. He also had the fastest 3000m and 5000m times that season in the country. Lagat won a pair of 1500m Olympic medals for his native Kenya before changing his national affiliation to the United States. A United States resident since 1996, Lagat officially became eligible to compete for the United States one day after the start of the 2007 World Outdoor Championships.

Lagat most recently competed at the 2016 Rio Olympic games where he placed fifth-overall in the 5K race at an astounding 41 years of age. He clocked in three seconds behind gold at 13:06.78.

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