Rupp, Webb Headline Silicon Valley Turkey Trot

Galen Rupp has been running a lot lately. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Oregon Track Club teammates will go after course record tomorrow in San Jose.

Written by: David Monti
(c) 2010 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

American track stars Galen Rupp and Alan Webb lead the entry list for tomorrow’s sixth annual Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot/Elite 5K in San Jose, California, the West Coast’s most competitive and fastest Thanksgiving Day race.

For Rupp, 24, the only athlete to win all five NCAA distance running titles in a single season, the race will mark his road running debut.  The reigning USA 10,000 meters champion, who has run 13:07.35 for 5,000 meters, should be right at home on the race’s four-lap, criterium course, and he could threaten Marc Davis’s American road record of 13:24 set at the Carlsbad 5000 in 1996.  The race is offering a $10,000 bonus for breaking that mark.

“He’s in great shape,” said his coach Alberto Salazar in a short phone interview yesterday.  ”And so is Alan.”

Webb, 27, the American record holder for the mile with a 3:46.91 personal best, is no slouch at 5K with a track best of 13:10.86.  He’s also run several road races in his career, and has excellent strength for a miler.  It has been nearly one year since Webb underwent Achilles surgery, and has made steady progress under Salazar who began coaching him at the end of last year.

The two Americans are only part of a very strong and deep field assembled by elite athlete coordinator Mark Winitz.  Course record holder Scott Bauhs who ran 13:37 to win this race in 2008, is also entered, along with Belgian Monder Rizki (5,000m PB of 13:04.06), American Bolota Asmerom (13:15.16), Kenyans Josphat Boit (13:17.12) and Kevin Chelimo (13:30.55), and Moroccan Ali Maataoui (13:32.14) amongst others.  In all there are 40 men in the invited field, according to Winitz.

The field of invited women is smaller (18), but is also solid.  Misiker Mekonnin Demissie of Ethiopia, who raced most of her career as Teyba Naser of Bahrain before switching her citizenship back to Ethiopia, is the top entrant with a road PB of 15:35.  However, the 24-year old athlete who lives in Albuquerque will have to shake of a disappointing 2:37:39/21st place finish at the ING New York City Marathon on November 7.  Indeed, she may still be fatigued from that effort.

Kenyan veteran Jackline Okemwa will try to restart her stalled career.  The 1997 African Junior Championships silver medallist at 3,000 meters has not yet raced in 2010 and only raced once in 2009.  Ethiopian Aziza Aliyu, who like Demissie ran the ING New York City Marathon, is also entered, as is American steeplechaser Lindsay Allen (5,000m PB of 15:48.97), and former Stanford runner Teresa McWalters (15:49.54).

The women’s course record of 15:41 was set by Kenyan Sally Kipyego last year.

The invitational races are part of a larger and growing race festival which features both a 5K and 10K run for everyday runners.  Those events recorded 5,340 and 3,236 finishers, respectively, last year, representing a combined increase of 36% from the prior year.  The invitational races take place after the mass events, so there should be thousands of spectators on hand to watch the pros.

Rupp and Webb, who are both married and live in Portland, Ore., still plan to be home for Thanksgiving dinner.

“We’ve got a flight back in the afternoon,” said Salazar.

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