Newly minted Masters runner Kevin Castille takes men’s 40+ title.
CARLSBAD, Calif. — Every year on the first weekend in April some of the fastest runners in the world converge on the coast of southern California to battle for bragging rights at the Carlsbad 5000, and for the past two years none have been faster than Ethiopian Dejen Gebremeskel.
Running with the patience of a man three times his age, the 22-year-old Gebremeskel avoided the wind and hid in the lead pack for much of the 3.1-mile race before embarking on an all-out attack with just over a kilometer to go. No one in the 25-man elite field could respond as Gebremeskel held on to win the 27th edition of “The World’s Fastest 5K” in 13 minutes, 11 seconds. It was the young Ethiopian’s second straight victory here, his winning time matching that of last year.
“I wanted a fast time for this race,” Gebremeskel said. “The wind was bad for three kilometers and that is why I didn’t push the pace. I didn’t want to lose energy. The last 1K was very good, so I pushed it. The competition was good because I was surrounded by fantastic athletes. I pushed with the guys, especially Eliud Kipchoge the Olympic medalist, so I ran with them and I pushed the last kilometer. I like this race. It helps me for the track season. ”
Finishing behind Gebremeskel was another Ethiopian, albeit a relatively unknown one. Seventeen-year-old Hagos Gebrhiwet finished three seconds back of his countryman in 13:14, a personal best by an astounding 56 seconds. Eliud Kipchoge, the two-time Olympic 5,000-meter medalist from Kenya who won bronze at Athens in 2004 and captured silver at Beijing in 2008, finished third in 13:15.
Tariku Bekele of Ethiopia and John Kipkoech of Kenya rounded out the top-5, running 13:16 and 13:25, respectively. Ireland’s Alistair Cragg, the former Arkansas standout who trains in Mammoth Lakes, California with coach Terrence Mahon and the Mammoth Track Club, finished sixth in 13:26, a new Irish and European record. Andrew Carlson of Minneapolis, Minnesota, who finished sixth at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in January, was the top American finisher in 15th place (14:13).
Kipchoge, who won here in 2010, was his usual aggressive self from the start, towing a large pack of runners through the first mile in 4:12. By 2 miles, passed in 8:33, the lead group was down to six, with Kipchoge still doing a majority of the work. He was shadowed closely by Kipkoech and Bekele, as Gebremeskel wisely avoided the strong headwind which plagued runners throughout the day. Just before the final hairpin turn of the T-shaped course with a little over a kilometer to go, Gebremeskel put his foot on the gas, opening up a small gap he maintained all the way to the finish line.
“I was surprised with the time because of the wind,” Gebrmeskel said. “When I won the race I was thinking 13:20-something, and after I finished when I looked at the time it was 13:11, so wow, it was faster than I thought!”
In the men’s Masters race, youth was served by recently turned 40-year-old Kevin Castille of Nicholasville, Kentucky.
Leading from gun to tape, Castille crossed the finish line in 14:57 to win by 33 seconds over defending Masters champion Christian Cushing Murray of Santa Ana, Calif. Tim Gore of Oceanside, Calif., was third in 15:31.
Hitting the mile unchallenged in 4:38, Castille continued to stretch out his legs, along with the lead, over the final two miles to make his first Carlsbad 5000 a memorable one.
“I just turned 40 on March 17 and wanted to start the Masters off right,” said Castille, who hopes to qualify for this summer’s Olympic Trials in the 10,000 meters. “I know sometimes races are tactical so I wanted to go out in 4:45 no matter what and see what happens.”
For age group results, photos and more, visit carlsbad5000.com.