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ATLANTA – June 27, 2016 – Lost in thought, Philip Langat rested in the shade after Sunday’s B.A.A. 10K while waiting to go up on stage to accept his runner-up award. Moments before, he had raced Daniel Chebii shoulder-to-shoulder until the last 500 meters of the race, falling just short of his second big win on the U.S. roads this year.
But go over to say hello and you get the high-wattage smile of a kid who’s just been handed an ice cream cone.
After arguably the most-important win of his career at the Lilac Bloomsday Run 12K on May 1, the 26-year-old from Kenya had just come within seven seconds of another, against an even-more competitive field on the flat, fast course in Boston. And next up for Langat is his debut at the AJC Peachtree Road Race, where it’s back to the type of hilly course on which he seems to excel.
A victory at Peachtree, the largest road race in the U.S., on the heels of his win at Bloomsday, the third-largest, would propel Langat into the bigtime.
So why shouldn’t he smile?
“I am more confident,” he said, speaking of his recent success.
Ask about Cardiac Hill and you get that ice cream smile again.
“Where I am training, it is very hilly,” said Langat, referring to the highlands just west of Kenya’s famed Rift Valley. “I think it (Cardiac Hill) will not be a challenge.”
It was on Bloomsday’s legendary Doomsday Hill that Langat shook his last challenger in that race, going on to win the 40th running after finishing fourth in 2015. An earlier key victory in his career came in 2011, when he won the hilly LCM Wincanton Montferland Run 15K in the Netherlands.
Langat readily acknowledges that he likes to make his moves on a hill. Daniel Salel, winner of last year’s Peachtree Cup international team competition, said that he would advise Langat not to wait that long in the July 4 classic.
“You have to start fast and push the pace so you destroy other people,” said Salel, after finishing third at the B.A.A. 10K, just six seconds behind Langat. “If he runs like he did today, he will be OK.”