Defending Champion Eyeing World Record At Carlsbad 5000

Will Eliud Kipchoge break the world record at this weekend's Carlsbad 5000? Photo:

Top-ranked 5,000m runner Eliud Kipchoge set to attack 13 minute barrier.

CARLSBAD, Calif. — Eliud Kipchoge, the 2010 Carlsbad 5000 champion, is returning for Sunday’s race, not only seeking another victory but also a world record. Kipchoge, the 26-year-old Kenyan, has every reason to be optimistic.

“He was very disappointed he didn’t do it last year,” said Matt Turnbull, Elite Athlete Coordinator.  “He was in good shape, but it was very windy at the start. Now, he knows what the course is all about. He’s been training hard for it.”

The weather forecast for Sunday calls for ideal running conditions with the temperature in the low to mid-60s and a little cloud cover.

“He’s in better shape this year,” Turnbull added. “If we don’t get the winds coming off the Pacific, it could be worth 8-10 seconds to him this time.”

Last year, Kipchoge won in 13:11, making his move after two miles and finishing seven seconds ahead of the field. Kipchoge’s tireless training already has paid off this year; he has set personal bests for 3000 and 5000 meters indoors.

“This is a fantastic course and a fantastic crowd,” said Kipchoge, who shares his name with Kipchoge Keino, widely known as the father of Kenyan athletics. Last year’s race was Kipchoge’s first 5000 race on the roads and his time made him the third-fastest individual finisher in history.  He is prepared to again chase the world mark of 13:00 set by Sammy Kipketer of Kenya at Carlsbad in 2000 and equaled by him in 2001.

“In 2010, I wanted to run fast and attack the world record,” Kipchoge said. “I tried very hard but on the day I had to fight the wind and that made it very hard for me to break 13 minutes. This year, I feel as though I’m in better shape. I’ve been pushing myself and my training has definitely gone well. I’ve run 7:29.37 for 3000 meters and 12:55.72 for 5000 meters …

“I know Sammy Kipketer’s world record has been there for 10 years now, but it really is an ambition of mine to get that world record. I’m a 5000-meter runner and I want that record. I’m working towards it and I hope that (Sunday) it will be my name against the mark.”

In order to get the record, Kipchoge will have to stave off a formidable field of contenders. Foremost among them is Ethiopian Dejene Gebremeskel. Gebremeskel, 21, was last year’s runner-up at Carlsbad and was ranked No. 4 in the world over 5000 meters in 2010. He also is coming into Sunday’s race in top shape, having run a PR of 7:35.37 for 3000 meters indoors at Boston in February. His track PR for the 5,000 is 12:53.56.

The other top contenders in the men’s field include Australian Ben St. Lawrence and American Bobby Curtis. St. Lawrence, making his third appearance at Carlsbad, ran a huge PR of 13:10.08 at the Melbourne Track Classic on March 3. He is the Australian 5K and 10K champion. Curtis, 26, was ranked No. 4 in the U.S. in the 5K and 10K last year. The former Villanova runner ran 13:18.97 for 5000 meters and 27:33 for 10,000 in 2010.

The Carlsbad is known as the “World’s Fastest 5K” because 16 world records, 8 U.S. records, along with numerous national and age-group marks have been set on the scenic oceanfront course. The elite field of world-class athletes will be joined by the best masters runners in the U.S. for the 26th running of one of the marquee events on the international road race circuit.

The event began in 1986, and Steve Scott, the great American miler and Olympian, won each of the first three years, giving the race tremendous credibility. After that, “people wanted to come here,” Turnbull said. “They thought it was the fastest course. I don’t think it’s the fastest course. It’s the personnel that make the race as opposed to the course.”

This year, the personnel is definitely there.

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