Bernard Lagat wasn’t even sure where he finished at Thursday’s Manchester Road Race.
“Fifteenth,” someone told him.
“Fifteenth? Oh, man, I wanted to do better than that,” said Lagat, a five-time Olympian running for the first time at Manchester. “That means I’ll have to come back.”
Lagat, 42, of Tucson, Ariz., finished in 22:18.
“We started going out around 4:20 [mile pace],” he said. “I thought that was fast enough that I wanted to maintain that pace or at least run my own race from there. The uphill was not bad. I didn’t want to push (too much) because I didn’t want to burn myself out.
“When we went downhill, I couldn’t get my legs going downhill, I was holding back. It was a really hard downhill. I didn’t know I’m not a downhill [runner] until today.”
Lagat, who won the silver medal in the 1,500 in the 2004 Olympics and the bronze medal in the 2000 Games, was born in Kenya but now competes for the U.S. He beat out Thursday’s Manchester winner Paul Chelimo in the 5,000-meter Olympic Trials last year.
He had a good time Thursday.
“We were listening to the music, people were like, ‘Go, go, guys, Happy Thanksgiving,’” he said. “This was amazing. To see all these people running – it’s something special.”
First For Cotard
Mary Cotard, the daughter of 1947 winner Joe McCluskey, came from Paris to run her first Manchester Road Race on the 70th anniversary of her late father’s last win. McCluskey, a Manchester native who won the bronze medal in the Olympic steeplechase in 1932, won the race four times and is credited with reviving interest in the Thanksgiving Day run. Cotard, who ran with her two sons and others from the McCluskey family, finished in 49:24.
“It was so much fun, fun from the beginning to the end,” Cotard said. “It was a great crowd. Just enough space to run, it never really thinned out. Nice sunny weather. There were people cheering for us the whole way.”
Amby Burfoot, a nine-time winner and the retired editor of Runners World magazine, ran his 55th consecutive Manchester Road Race, finishing in 39:43. … John Busque of Manchester finished 20th in 23:13, only 13 seconds away from becoming the second runner from Manchester to go under 23 minutes in the history of the race. Steve Gates of Manchester ran 22:59 in 1980, finishing seventh overall. Everett Hackett of Hartford was the first state finisher in 23:06, finishing 17th overall. Hayley Collins of Tolland was the first state finisher for the women, in 26:26, good for 13th place. She was followed by 14th-place Katie Edwards of Glastonbury (28:00) and 15th-place Melissa Stellato of Windsor (28:00). … Lynette Walker of Simsbury, who holds age group records for 70-74 and 75-79 years old, won her age group in a gun time of 42:18. Walker is 77. … The Manchester Road Race blood drive takes place Friday at Manchester High School from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Call 1-800-733-2767 or visit the Red Cross website to make an appointment.