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Convention Speakers - Trio of Inspiring Olympians

Don Kardong

Kardong has been a runner since 1964. He ran four years of cross country and three years of track at Stanford University, missing one season of eligibility (1969) while attending Stanford-in-Britain.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Stanford University in 1971, and, in 1974, a bachelor’s degree in English and a teaching certificate from the University of Washington. After graduating, he ran his first marathon in 1972 finishing in 2:18:06. He competed in the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials in the marathon and 10,000 meters and finished 6th in both events. On May 22, 1976, he finished 3rd in the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon (2:13:54), and was 4th in the U.S. Olympic Trials 5000 meters a month later. He finished 4th in the Olympic Marathon in Montreal (7/31/76), running a personal best of 2:11:16, missing the bronze medal by 3 seconds. In 1977, he helped launch the Lilac Bloomsday Run, which now attracts 50,000 participants a year.  Kardong is an author, speaker, consultant, and online coach. He has been a contributing writer for Runner’s World magazine and has published three books.  He was president of the Road Runners Club of America from 1996 to 2000.

Bernard Lagat

Born December 12, 1974 in Kaptel near Kapsabet in Kenya. Graduated from Washington State University with BA in MIS and Decision Science in 2001.  Bernard Lagat is a twelve time track and field medalist in World Championships and Olympics including five gold medals. Lagat has competed in four Olympic Games, winning medals at 1500 meters in Sydney 2000 (bronze) and Athens 2004 (silver) while representing his native Kenya and then competing for USA in Beijing 2008 and London 2012. He is the American record holder in the 1500m, Mile, and 2 mile indoors, as well as the 1500m, 3000m, and 5000m outdoors, and is the Kenyan record holder at 1500m outdoors.  He remains the second fastest ever at 1500 meters with a time of 3:26.34 in 2001. At the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Lagat became the first athlete to become world champion in both the 1,500 m and 5,000 m at the same IAAF World Championships. Similar feats had been achieved by Hicham El Guerrouj and Paavo Nurmi, both at the 2004 and 1924 Olympic stage. Lagat is a three-time World Indoor Champion at 3000 meters, winning Golds in Budapest 2004, Doha 2010 and Istanbul 2012.  He shares the title with Haile Gebrselassie, as the only athletes to ever win 3 gold medals over that distance.  In 2010, Lagat broke the record for being crowned the Wanamaker Mile winner a record of eight times at the Millrose Games in New York.  The previous record was held by Ireland’s indoor specialist, Eamonn Coghlan. Bernard lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife Gladys and their son Miika (born in 2006) and daughter Gianna (born 2008).

Deena Kastor

Kastor started running competitively at the age of 11.  After winning five California state titles, Deena attended the University of Arkansas, where she won seven SEC titles. Following her move to Colorado, Deena emerged as America’s best cross country runner and a top international competitor in track and field.  In 1997, she was awarded an RRCA Roads Scholar grant during the second year of the program. Deena blossomed in 2000 as she prepared for the Olympic Games. On March 26, Kastor broke the American road record in the 5K with a time of 15:08; it was also the fastest time in the world that year. As a member of the United States track and field team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Kastor finished in eighteenth place in her preliminary heat of the 10,000-meter race with a time of 34:40.56, and did not advance to the semi-finals.  In May 2001, she announced that she would make her marathon debut at the 2001 New York City Marathon. The following month, she won the 10,000-meter at the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships, thus solidifying her as America’s top distance runner. At the 2001 World Championships, Deena finished 11th in the 10,000-meter race with a time of 32:18.65. A month after the Worlds (September 16), she set a new U.S. record in the half-marathon at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon with a time of 1:10:08.  In 2002, Deena continued to be one of the best runners in the United States. She earned the silver medalist in the 8K at the 2002 World Cross Country Championships and also broke the U.S. record in the 10,000-meter (30:52.32) and the world record in the 5K road race (14:54). In April 2003, she finished third at the Flora London Marathon, breaking the 18-year U.S. record with a time of 2:21:16.  She qualified for the 2004 Olympics in both the 10,000-meter race and marathon. She gave up her spot in the 10K, however, to focus in the marathon. The decision proved to be a wise one as she won the bronze medal, the first medal for an American marathoner in 20 years. In 2005 she won the Chicago Marathon, and in 2006, Deena won the Berlin Half Marathon and broke her American record in a time of 1:07.34. She won the Flora London Marathon in a new American record time of 2:19.36. In April 2008, Kastor won the U.S. women’s Olympic marathon trials in Boston, Massachusetts where shie finished with al time of 2:29:35, after overtaking competitor Magdalena Lewy Boulet in mile 23.  In August 2008, Kastor pulled out of the women’s marathon at the Beijing Olympics with a foot injury. At about the 5-kilometer (3.1 mi) mark, she dropped to one knee, holding her right foot. She attempted to rise, but dropped back down again and was forced to withdraw from the race.  Deena has also given back to the sport by serving on both RRCA and USATF program committees.  She currently serves on the USATF Board of Directors.