“Now, I will focus on world records at 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters outdoors!” said Defar following her win in Doha on March 14.
The Carlsbad 5000 marks the first of those record opportunities. But Defar, who first came to Carlsbad in 2003, taking fifth place, will have to overcome the challenge of 24 year-old Emily Chebet of Kenya, who won the senior women’s 8km title at the March 20th IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland one week after Defar’s world indoor title in Doha.
And not to be forgotten is defending Carlsbad 5000 champion Aheza Kiros of Ethiopia, who looks to join Defar (2006, 2007), England’s Liz McColgan (1988, 1991), and America’s Deena Kastor (2000, 2002) as a two-time Carlsbad 5000 champion.
“The quality of this women’s field is a reflection of how highly regarded the Carlsbad 5000 is in the world of running,” said Toni Reavis, 20-year broadcaster of the race. “Coming off her world indoor 3000 meter title Meseret Defar has the speed to make a run at her world record, but in Emily Chebet she will have the perfect foil to test her strength over the distance. It promises to be an intriguing match-up of reigning world champions.”
At the age of 26, Defar is destined to go down as one of the best distance runners – male or female – in history. She owns an Olympic gold medal at 5000m from Athens 2004, when she out-kicked 2004 Carlsbad 5000 champion Isabella Ochichi of Kenya. “Mezzy,” as she is known affectionately, has set six World Records, four of which are still standing. She is a nine-time IAAF World Athletics Final Champion, and last year was ranked #1 in the world at 5000m by Track & Field News. She holds a track PR of 14:12.88, the number two performance of all-time.
But Carlsbad 2010 will be no solo coronation. Fresh off her recent gold medal performance in Poland at the World Cross Country Championships on March 20, Kenyan Emily Chebet will certainly have something to say about who stands atop the victor’s podium come April 11th.
“It has been a tradition at Carlsbad to invite the medalists from the World Cross Country Championships,” said Reavis. “It will be the finishing speed of Defar against the power and strength of Chebet. The classic Ethiopian-Kenyan rivalry will be in full flower for sure.”
2010 marks the 25th anniversary of the world-renowned road race that has been the site of 16 world records since its inception in 1986. Between Deena Kastor’s 14:54 record in 2002 and Defar’s 14:46 in 2006, the women’s world record was either tied or broken five straight years at Carlsbad. Elite Athlete Coordinator Matt Turnbull is anxious to join his legendary predecessor Mike Long in match-making a world record performance in 2010.
“I’d heard so much about the race when I was based in Europe, and knew of it’s reputation as the fastest in the world,” said Turnbull. “But it was not until 2008 that I actually saw the course for the first time, and I was surprised because at first glance it does not appear to be the fastest course. With a few inclines and a couple of hairpin turns, it is staggering the quality of performance we have seen over the years. Why are there so many PR’s? Well, that’s because the level of competition is always so high, we might not get a world best every year, but many of the athletes will never run that fast again in their lives.”
Since California’s Patti Sue Plummer set a world best at the first Carlsbad 5000 in 1986, the race has ample evidence to support its claim as the ‘World’s Fastest 5K.’ Hailed as the fastest USATF certified loop course, the event is not only home to 16 world records, but also 8 U.S. best marks have been set over its 24-year history.
Since 1986, thousands of runners have converged beachfront streets of downtown Carlsbad in early April to enjoy the infamous ‘Party by the Sea.’ While hosting the ‘World’s Fastest 5K’ for elite athletes, the Carlsbad 5000 welcomes runners and walkers of all abilities to a series of seven “People’s Races” that take place throughout the morning. The event promises a scenic seaside course, healthy competition and a weekend of fun for participants of all ages and skill levels. For more information, please visit www.carlsbad5000.com.