Lomong's U.S. Record
Lopez Lomong gave the credit for his record away, like he always does.
He gave it to the rabid distance running fans who cheered the star-studded men's 5,000 meters at The Armory on Friday night — capping an abbreviated session of the Columbia Final Qualifier.
And he gave it to his teammates from Nike's Jerry Schumacher-led training group.
And he gave it to the people of New York state, who embraced him as an orphan from Africa in 2001.
But let's be clear: Lomong's performance two weeks ago at The Armory, a Wanamaker Mile record of 3:51.23, and Friday's sensational 13:07.00 for 5,000 meters are two of the greatest in the long history of the building.
"I just wanted to give all my love and do it here," Lomong said after signing autographs and posing for photos with many of the 300-400 spectators in attendance.
Pacer Dan Huling pulled the single-file group through 3,000 meters in 7:53.4 — a little on the ambitious side (the group was taking aim at the IAAF A standard of 13:15.00).
"The pace was a little too hot for what we originally wanted," Schumacher explained. "If it was a little slower as a group we might have fared better overall but then not been as fast up front."
Instead, that hot pace kept the fittest of the bunch — Lomong and U.S. cross country champion Chris Derrick — ahead of standard pace and into record possibility.
But Lomong's 1:46 800 and 3:51 mile also told Schumacher that Lomong was in shape to do something special.
"(Millrose) certainly helped," the coach said. "I think we saw it and knew he was capable of running pretty fast. I think the other guys were capable of something a little faster than what they ran. I felt like we had a good group that could run 13:20."
Derrick successfully notched the A standard with 13:12.00. Andrew Bumbalough (13:23.68), Elliott Heath (13:33.22), Evan Jager (13:33.37) and Matt Tegenkamp (13:35.46) all logged PRs.
Oklahoma State's Girma Mecheso ran 13:45.60 to improve his chances of making the NCAA Championships field.
The evening belonged to Lomong, who said he took extra motivation into the fall after finishing 10th at the Olympic Games in the 5,000 meters final.
"We've been working very hard," he said. "We came out of an Olympic Games that was disappointing. It gave us more motivation."
Lomong and his teammates have spent time training at altitude in Colorado Springs, Colo., and will head into the spring outdoor season feeling confident.
"(This race) reminded me of how we've been working out," Lomong said. "We've done lots of workouts in single file. I didn't feel like I was racing. It was like doing a workout with your teammates, your brothers. I feel like this is a family and we came to The Armory to do something special."
And for the second time in two weeks, Lomong also took down a Bernard Lagat record. (Lagat set the American record in the 5,000 at the 2012 Millrose Games).
"I could not think of it," Lomong said. "Bernard, he's in another world. He's my mentor. To get that record from him, something is working right (for me)."