Shannon Rowbury Ready For The Roads

Shannon Rowbury, shown here on her way to finishing second at the 2009 Carlsbad 5000, is hoping for a win on Sunday. Photo: PhotoRun.net

The two-time Olympian is ready for her second Carlsbad 5000 on Sunday. 

Throughout her successful track and field career, Shannon Rowbury has mainly competed at the 1,500 and 3,000-meter distances. Now, she’s planning to move up to the 5,000. On Sunday, she’ll take a big step in that direction at the Carlsbad 5000.

Despite this event being her first race of the year and her relative inexperience at the distance, Rowbury is among the favorites. The other top entrants in a highly competitive field include Gelete Burka and Werknesh Kidane of Ethiopia, Mercy Cherono and Pasalia Kipkoech of Kenya, Lara Tamsett of Australia, and Americans Brenda Martinez, Katie McGregor and Christin Wurth-Thomas.

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For Rowbury, this will be her second appearance at Carlsbad. She was runner-up in 2009, running 15:41, three seconds behind Aheza Kiros. Tamsett was third in that race, just a second in back of Rowbury, while McGregor crossed in fourth.

“That was a good performance for me,” said Rowbury. “I love road racing, the energy that road racing gives you. I also love competing in the big track stadiums, but its cool running on the roads. Having people right there and the music…it’s different. You can get a lot of energy from the people being right there.”

While Rowbury hasn’t won at 5,000 meters on the roads, she has been successful away from the track, having twice won the prestigious Fifth Avenue Mile in New York. She also has high hopes for the Carlsbad 5000.

“I’ll be looking for a win Sunday,” she said. “That would be a great way to start the season. That would get me ready for a big summer.”

During the summer, Rowbury, a two-time Olympian at 1,500m, will again concentrate on the 1,500m, hoping to make the World Championship team and improve on her bronze medal finish in 2008. She also plans to run a couple of 3,000m and 5,000m races in Diamond League events.

“I have some unfinished business in the 1,500 first,” Rowbury, 28, said. “I would like to run under four minutes (her PR is 4:00.33) and I would like to win at the World Championships. I would like to get back on the podium. That would be a dream.”

After this summer, she’ll work more on the 5,000, hoping to gain a spot in that event on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team. In 2008, she finished seventh in the 1,500m, the highest finish ever by an American at that distance in the Games, and four years later, she bettered her performance, placing sixth.

“Hopefully, I will have mastered the 5K by 2016,” she said.

For Sunday’s race, she has been training in the 6,500-foot altitude of warm San Luis Potosi, Mexico. “The warmer weather is helpful for middle-distance runners,” she explained.

Meanwhile, her opponents on Sunday have a lot of experience. Burka was the world indoor champion over 3,000 meters in 2006 and 2008, was fifth at last year’s 5,000 Olympic final and is the Ethiopian record-holder for 10,000 meters. Kidane finished fourth in the 2012 Olympic 10,000 final and has seven individual medals from the World Cross Country Championships.

Cherono was the world junior champion over 3,000 meters in 2008 and 2010. Kipkoech recently placed third in the prestigious EDP Lisbon Half Marathon.

Martinez won the Fifth Avenue Mile last year and was the NCAA runner-up in the 1,500 in 2008. McGregor is a seven-time national champion at distances between 10,000 meters and 25 kilometers, who narrowly missed making the 2004 and 2008 U.S. Olympic teams. Wurth-Thomas was fourth at the Carlsbad 5000 in 2011 and fifth in the 1,500 at the 2009 World Championships.

Both the American and world records for 5,000 have been set at Carlsbad, which is internationally known as the “World’s Fastest 5K” because of its 16 world records, 8 U.S. records, along with numerous national and age-group records have been set on the scenic oceanfront course. Meseret Defar established the current world mark of 14:46 in 2006 and Deena Kastor set the U.S. women’s record of 14:54 in 2002. The elite field of world-class athletes will be joined by some the best masters runners in the U.S. for the 28th running of one of the marquee events on the international road race circuit.

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