Americans place third in each invitational race; age group records highlight perfect day for 26th annual 'Party by the Sea'
By Bert Rosenthal
CARLSBAD, Calif. - (April 3, 2011) - A confident Dejen Gebremeskel and a wispy Aheza Kiros gave Ethiopia a sweep of the men's and women's invitational races at the 26th Carlsbad 5000 on Sunday. Both events produced dramatic finishes under sunny, but breezy conditions.
Gebremeskel, last year's runner-up, sat behind defending champion Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya for most of the 3.1-mile race before spurting ahead in the final 100 meters and finishing in 13 minutes, 11 seconds. The time matched Kipchoge's winning performance of 2010 and equaled the fourth-fastest clocking in history.
By winning, Gebremeskel spoiled Kipchoge's bid to break the world record of 13:00, established by Sammy Kipketer in 2000 and tied by him a year later at Carlsbad. Kipchoge had said prior to the race that he thought he had a good chance of taking down the record. However, he was sidetracked by pacesetter Haron Lagat. Lagat was supposed to take the leaders through the first two miles, but only managed to hang on for just over a mile.
By dropping out, Lagat left Kipchoge to assume the lead. That led to some gamesmanship between Kipchoge and Gebremeskel. Shortly past two miles (hit in 8:25), Kipchoge signaled to Gebremeskel to take over the lead. The Ethiopian refused, continuing to run just behind Kipchoge. Then when Gebremeskel was only a few steps from the end, he pointed to the finish line, indicating that he was the winner.
"I knew I would win," the 21-year-old Gebremeskel said. About his finger-pointing, he said, "I got to the finish line first. I pointed because I was happy that I won."
As for the world record, he said, "Next year I will try for it."
It's not often that a runner can outsmart Kipchoge, who was ranked #1 in the world at 5000 meters in 2010, has won silver and bronze medals over 5000 meters in the past two Olympics and has been one of the world's most consistent runners since winning the World Championships at age 18 eight years ago.
"I thought following him was best for me," said Gebremeskel. "He has a better PB than me. He's a strong guy, he's a tough guy. I like running on someone's shoulder because of the wind (here). Maybe I had more power today because I didn't have to work so hard."
The affable Kipchoge was not overly upset that Gebremeskel didn't accept his invitation to seize the lead. "I told him to go but he wouldn't go," said Kipchoge, who ran 13:14 (#7 all-time). "I can't be mad. I just couldn't run a faster time. The pacemaker slowed down. You can't push if there are only two of us."
Two also was the operative number in the women's invitational and followed a similar script to the men's race. After the start, Kiros, the 2009 winner and 2010 runner-up, and Pauline Korikwiang of Kenya broke away from the field and waged a close battle throughout. Korikwiang held a slim advantage until the closing 10-15 meters before Kiros swept past her and won in 15:13, one second ahead of the Kenyan.
"The last 200 meters I pushed it," Kiros said. "I love this race."
While Kiros, 25, sidestepped questions about her tactics, Korikwiang, a team gold medalist at the recent World Cross Country Championships and the national Junior record holder for the 5000 on the track, was upset about her second individual test on the roads.
"If you push the pace and she doesn't come and help, that's not a good race," she said. "I pushed the race so I became tired at the last minutes. If I had someone else to push the pace, I think I could have run faster."
Americans did well in both races. Bobby Curtis of Ardmore, Pa. finished third in the men's race in 13:48, three-time Olympian Jen Rhines of Mammoth Lakes, Calif. was third in the women's event in 15:37, and was followed by 2008 Olympian Christin Wurth-Thomas of Springdale, Ark. in 15:56.
The Masters races also produced some sparkling competition with former UCLA runners sweeping both events. In the men's race, Christian Cushing-Murray, 43, of Santa Ana, Calif., won for the third consecutive year in 15:04. "I don't think I'm as fit as last year," he said, laughing. "That's what happens when you get over 40."
The hotly contested women's event resulted in the first two finishers posting the same time - 17:24 - but Tania Fischer, 45, of Santa Monica, Calif. was declared the winner over Kathleen Jobes, 41, of Bethlehem, Pa. For Fischer, the victory was retribution for having finished second, third, fourth and fifth in her previous four Carlsbad 5000s.
"I finally got the victory," said Fischer, the head coach at Santa Monica High School and a ceramics teacher. "Coming down the homestretch was like running a relay in high school. This race is so incredible. Not only are the spectators but also the other runners - everybody into it."
Meanwhile, two age group records were also broken. Anne Garrett, 77, of Oceanside, Calif., smashed the U.S. mark for the 75-79 group by finishing in 25:59, 13 seconds faster than the record she set last year at Carlsbad, and Lenore Montgomery, 80, of North Vancouver, BC set the world record for the 80-84 group with 29:16, eclipsing the previous record of 29:23 established by Anne Clarke of Carol Stream, Ill. at Park Ridge, Ill. in 1989.
26th Carlsbad 5000
Carlsbad, CA, Sunday, April 3, 2011
1) Dejen Gebremeskel (ETH), 13:11, $5000
2) Eluid Kipchoge (KEN), 13:14, $3500
3) Bobby Curtis (USA / PA), 13:48, $2000
4) Juan Carlos Romero (MEX), 13:50, $1000
5) Haron Lagat (KEN), 13:55, $800
6) Diego Alberto Borrego (MEX), 14:06, $700
7) Craig Miller (USA / WI), 14:08, $500
8) Tony Okello (UGA), 14:11, $400
9) Jarrod Shoemaker (USA / MA), 14:12, $300
10) Ben St. Lawrence (AUS), 14:22, $200
MASTERS Men (40+)
1) Christian Cushing-Murray, 43, CA, 15:04, $1000
2) Chad Newton, 41, NC, 15:10, $500
3) Dennis Simonaitis, 49, UT, 15:11, $200
1) Aheza Kiros (ETH), 15:13, $5000
2) Pauline Korikwiang (KEN), 15:14, $3500
3) Jen Rhines (USA / CA), 15:37, $2000
4) Christin Wurth-Thomas (USA / AR), 15:56, $1000
5) Eloise Wellings (AUS), 16:06, $800
6) Stephanie Pezzullo (USA / AZ), 16:11, $700
7) Barbara Parker (GBR), 16:22, $500
8) Sara Slattery (USA / OR), 16:30, $400
9) Annie Bersagel (USA / CA), 16:40, $300
10) Brenda Martinez (USA / CA), 16:59, $200
MASTERS Women (40+)
1) Tania Fischer, 45, CA, 17:24, $1000
2) Kathleen Jobes, 41, PA, 17:24, $500
3) Carmen Troncoso, 52, TX, 17:42, $200
Complete results, photos and more at: www.Carlsbad5000.com