Elijah Kiptarbei Lagat (born June 19, 1966) was born and raised in Saniak Village in Nandi District of Kenya. He was the winner of the 104th running of the Boston Marathon held in 2000. He won in the closest finish in the race's history when he edged out Gezahgne Abera of Ethiopia and fellow Kenyan and previous year's champion, Moses Tanui. Abera and Lagat were both clocked at 2 hours 9 minutes and 47 seconds while Tanui finished three seconds back. Lagat's win enabled the Kenyans to capture the individual men's Boston Marathon title for the 10th straight year. This is a record that still stands.
2000 Sydney Olympics Marathon Controversy
Lagat's win in the Boston Marathon initially gave him a spot on Kenya's marathon team in the 2000 Olympics. Lagat indicated his enthusiasm for running in the Olympics immediately after Boston. However, later in the year the director of the Kenyan Amateur Athletics Association, David Okeyo, replaced the three runners who had initially made the team (Lagat, Tanui and Japhet Kosgei) with three other Kenyans Ondoro Osoro, Erick Wainaina and Kenneth Cheruiyot. He claimed that the three who had initially made the team had not been training hard enough. This move may have been precipitated by poor Kenyan showings in the Olympic marathons in the past. It also may have been brought about by the three initial qualifiers' criticism of the Kenyan Amateur Athletics Association officials. Despite Kenya's many successes in marathoning, The distance running mecca was unable to secure an Olympic gold medal until Samuel Wanjiru's record setting run in the 2008 Beijing games.
Later in the summer of 2000 however, Onsaro was shot in a carjacking incident. Lagat found his way back onto the team as a replacement after being clearly miffed by what he called a strange dismissal from the team. When the Sydney Olympics finally came about, Lagat was on the team and started the race but did not finish. He blamed his failure to finish on excessive preparation for the Olympic marathon; he claimed he wanted to show the Kenyan athletics officials he really could win but overtrained as a result.
Reasons for Running
Lagat began running simply to lose weight and not necessarily to compete at the highest level of the sport. As a young man, a physician told him that he "had a lot of fat around his heart" and needed to lose weight. The Kenyan obliged and his weight decreased from 158 pounds in 1992 to 125 by the time he won Boston. He started jogging in 1993 and began competing in 1994. He was already 27 when he first began competing; his late start in the sport is unusual and a testament to his innate talent. Before running, Lagat worked as an educational administrator before switching to full-time athlete.
Other Notable Performances
He tried to defend his Boston title in 2001 but finished 17th with a time of 2:17:59 that year. He has not competed at the same level since then.
Prior to the 2002 general elections, Lagat was persuaded by his friends to vie for the Emgwen Constituency parliamentary seats. After initial resistance, Lagat agreed and vied for the seat on KANU ticket. He lost, however, to Stephen Kipkiyeny Tarus who represented the victorious NARC coalition. After the elections, Lagat continued his athletics career.
|1997||Berlin Marathon||Berlin, Germany||1st||Marathon||2:07:41|
|1998||Prague Marathon||Prague, Czech Republic||1st||Marathon||2:08:52|
|2000||Boston Marathon||Boston, United States||1st||Marathon||2:09:47|
|Olympic Games||Sydney, Australia||—||Marathon||DNF|
- "Marathoner Elijah Lagat back on Kenya Olympic team". 31 July 2000. Retrieved 20 October 2006.
- Burris, Joe. "Lagat had Olympic disappointment after Boston victory". Boston.com. Retrieved 20 October 2006.
- "Kenyans Cruise In Boston, Elijah Lagat Wins In Time Of 2:09:47". CBS News. 19 April 1999. Retrieved 20 October 2006.
- "On doctor's advice, Lagat sheds weight and gains the heart of a winner". Active.com. Archived from the original on November 20, 2003. Retrieved 20 October 2006.
- "From the racetrack to parliament". The Standard. 12 April 2009. Archived from the original on April 20, 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
- "Election results 2007 - Emgwen Constituency". Archived from the original on May 14, 2010. Retrieved 19 April 2009.