Haron Lagat, Brussels (Belgium), 2010.
Last Name : LAGAT
First Name : Haron
Age : 29
Country : KENYA
Personnal Best :
10 000m: 28:05.23
3000m SC: 8:15.80
Mile (i): 4:11.02
3000m (i): 7:56.52
5000m (i): 13:36.59
2000m SC (i): 5:22.81
Haron Lagat, Paris (France), 2012.
1/ When and were were you born ? Where are you living (city) now ?
I was born in August 15, 1983, in a small village called Barsombe in Uasin Gishu district. Actually our farm has the pickon of the three districts, Tranzoia, Marakwet and Uasn Gishu. At the moment i leave in Lubbock in West Texas. It’s a medical and academic city in the flat plains of Texas.
2/ How and when did you start running ? where are you training ?
The way i started running is very complicated. When I was in elementary school i was pretty good at basketball and volleyball, i never thought in my life i would be a runner. Actually during my primary school years, I went to the same school with Sally and Michael Kipyego. I was one of those guys whom i was respected by other school for my volleyball schools so i could travel with them has a fan. I was one of the guys in the fences winning argument between sister schools bragging of who got better runners. I usually win just talking how good Sally and Mike would crash them.
I was lucky enough i passed my primary school test and was selected to join the fame St. Patrick’s high school in Iten. I knew i would not be able to afford to pay the school fees because my family was poor. I decided to just go for one semester then it will be easy to transfer to a smaller school. To make the story short, when I joined St Patricks it was required for all the 120 form one students to run a 2km loop everyday for three weeks as part of our orientation. Besides St. Patrick’s admitted two kids who were good at running in elementary school (regardless of their academic grades). Luckily during the 2K run I ran pretty good to the point where i was giving the two « athletes » hard time that they just beat me in a sprint finish each time. Then, the games teachers introduced me to Brother Colm.
At first, I did not fully buy myself into being an athlete. Hanging out with athletes was fun but runs were painful. One day we went for a long run in the forest and that was the hardest run that I had ever done. I decided that enough was enough. On monday morning i took back all the track suits and training shoes that Brother Colm had given me. He told me to see him at Game’s time. When I showed up Brother Colm was in the office. He talked to me and convinced me that I could be a good runner and that I should believe. I was back at it again.
In april, Saint Patrick’s has athletics camp for young athletes from all over the world. I was invited to attend but I had one problem, again I got no fees to come back for the following semester. I was just here for fame that I one day ill say want to st patricks. I went to the games teacher Mr. Keitany and told him why I will not come to the camp. I was packing my stuff and leaving for good this time. He was really affected with what i was going through, that he started hugging me. Two days later, few days before we left Mr. Keitany told me to meet him at Brother Colm place at 3pm. I showed up at Brother Colm door at games time, to my surprise he told me that my fees would be taken care. I broke down right there. That changed my attitude. From that day I gave everything in my training and started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I got better better and better that I have surprised myself so far. I consider Brother Colm the light of my smiles. He has made me love running, he paid my schooling until my teacher’s college fees. He got me a scholarship to USA which i graduated with BSC and now i am a person not just a runner, but a respected person.
3/ Do you have brothers and sisters ? If yes are they running ? What are your parents doing ?
I am the oldest of 5 kids, one brother and 3 sisters. My brother is a runner and he might be one of the best runners some years to come. He is in high school and i have been holding him back to concentrate on his school 1st cause he will have time after schooling to be a runner. My sisters are teachers and my younger sister is still in the last year of his elementary schooling.
4/ How did you came to America ?
I came to America through track and field scholarship. Brother Colm and professor Mike Boit facilated it after my graduation from Teachers College. If you don’t know, I am a P1 elementary school teacher (Tambach Teachers College).
Haron Lagat, coaching at Texas Tech.
5/ What did running teach you in your everyday life ?
Running has thought me that everything is possible if you work hard and are fully dedicated. Believe in your abilities. One thing that Brother Colm told me when I left Kenya was « dont disappear on the scene of the world of track and field » that means be visible whatever you are doing and wherever you are. I will always try to inspire before i disappear.
6/ What is the hardest part in running ?
The hardest part is being consistent in training. You have to be really tough mentally, to wake up everyday at six and start swinging your hands and placing one foot in front of the other quicker and longer and do it again for the second run. That needs a lot of dedication and believe. Not counting drills, weight room, stretching and many others. Oh well to swing hands back and forth for hundred miles week after week, I think you have to be a little crazy. To be a runner you got to be stubborn to your body, don’t give up on him. Keep moving even on those days that your first step out bed feel like you will crumble any time.
7/ Who was your favorite runner when you were a kid ?
I was not actually exposed to running until high school. I did not have any particular favorite runner when i started training but i admired a lot of athletes when i got to the sport. Tergat- why? he has the same running style like mine, and I got nick named Tergat in high school. Moses Kiptanui- why? I though he was the same height with me thus i could be a good steeplechaser. But damn it he is shorter! Michael Johnson- But I came to be disappointed by him because he retired while winning by big margin, who does that?
At my last year of high school I came to admire Bernard Lagat who is a very close buddy of mine now, I never thought that happening. When I started switching my mind to be a good runner as well as a schooler, Bernard was winning while schooling. You know there was a stereotype in Kenya that you will never be a good athlete and at same time good in class. We proved that wrong.
Haron Lagat leading The 5th Avenue Mile race in New York.
8/ If you were not an athlete, what else would you be ?
Sincerely, I can’t tell what I would be if I wasn’t an athlete. I can’t say I was going to be teaching because without Brother Colm and joining Saint Patrick’s I wasn’t gonna join TTC. I think i can say buying cows in my village.
9/ Can you explain us your job as a pacemaker ? how does it will to be a big part of those great times and performances ?
My job has pacemaker is to first be part of the race to ensure a fast time and avoid tactical racing. I am always employed by race organisers or runners for quick time or world record attempts with specific instructions for lap, km, or mile.
10/ Can you tell us the best workout you have done until today ? (for example 10*1000m in 2″40 recovery 2minutes between each)
I have done a lot of decent workouts in my running career and can’t point which one was good. I always give good effort to my workouts but their are certain times that when i hit them then i know i am ready like 1200*5 Under 3:12 with 2 minutes and 30 seconds recovery. Or a hard 16k under 50 minutes. That’s where I get satisfaction.
11/ What would be your last word for Runafrica Project Athletes ?
To Runfrica. Turn those young men and women miles into smiles