Finally, a breakthrough for Craig Lautenslager

Craig Lautenslager appeared poised to emerge as New Zealand’s top distance runner and top American collegian after a 2016 season that saw him run a 4:03 mile at the Texas Relays, a 13:52 to win his 5,000m heat at the Mount Sac Relays, and a 29:18 to capture the 10,000m at the prestigious Penn Relays.
Craig maintained his performances in 2017 and 2018.  His senior year at the University of Texas at Arlington, he improved to 29:00 in the 10,000m and placed 13th in the NCAA 5000m final. He moved back to Nelson and won New Zealand titles in cross country, half marathon, and 10,000m track.  But his track times were nowhere near what he wanted.
When Craig failed make it into the New Zealand Air Force pilot training programme, a long shot he admits, he returned to Texas and eventually found work as a software developer for a financial firm.  He logged his mileage and ran his track workouts at dawn prior on his full work days and won $1,500 in prize money in winning the Hot Chocolate 15km and Dash Down Greenville 5K in Dallas. His drop out due to sore legs four miles into the Mike Fanelli Invitational in San Francisco in late March did not deter him.
Craig returned to California last Saturday and carefully surged into the lead pack, clipping off sub 67 laps and splits of 4:24 through the 1,600m and 8:46 for 3,200. The lead pack escaped him, but he hung on for an eight-second personal best of 13:44.54 and a 12th place finish.  It is the second fastest time by a New Zealander in 2019. Craig was relieved but fearful of his breakthrough.
“I hope I don’t have to wait that long for another PB,” he said.
Craig races a 1,500m in Arkansas on May 3 and returns to Los Angeles for the USATF Distance Classic on May 16.