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Ethiopians rule Carlsbad

Dejen Gebremeskel - Carlsbad 2012

Dejen Gebremeskel - Carlsbad 2012

CARLSBAD, Calif. – (April 1, 2012) – The 27th Carlsbad 5000 had a familiar ring with repeat champions, fast times and windy conditions. When it ended Sunday, Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia won the men’s championship for the second year in a row, clocking 13 minutes, 11 seconds, tying for the fourth-fastest time ever on the roads and another Ethiopian, Tirunesh Dibaba, regained the women’s title she won in 2005, running 15:01. The times were impressive, considering the breezes blowing across the course.

Especially the men’s. The top four finishers all were among the Top Ten all-time at Carlsbad. Runner-up Hagos Gebrhiwet, a 17-year-old from Ethiopia, finished in 13:14, followed by Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, the 2010 winner and 2011 second-placer, also in 13:14, and Tariku Bekele of Ethiopia in 13:16.

It was the first time four runners had eclipsed 13:17 in the same 5K road race. In addition, Alistair Cragg of Ireland broke the European record by four seconds, winding up sixth in 13:26.

The women’s race was not as close as the men’s, as Dibaba, the 2008 Olympic champion at 5000 and 10,000 meters, ran away from the field over the closing stages and won by 12 seconds over runner-up Werknesh Kidane of Ethiopia (15:13). Pauline Korikwiang of Kenya was third in 15:22, and another 17-year-old Ethiopian, Gotytom Gebreslase, finished fourth in 15:32. Aheza Kiros of Ethiopia, the 2009 and 2011 champion, placed fifth in 15:41.

Gebremeskel was a virtual unknown before arriving in Carlsbad for the first time in 2010, when he finished second to Kipchoge. Since then, he has become one of the world’s elite distance runners. He earned his first global medal, taking a bronze at the 2011 World Championships over 5000 meters and was fifth at the World Indoor Championships over 3000 meters last month.

“The indoor 3000 prepared me to run fast (Sunday),” Gebremeskel, 22, said.

Gebremeskel ran a smart tactical race. He let Kipchoge set the pace into the wind over the first four kilometers. He then broke toward the front with Gebrhiwet and held off his two closest pursuers.

“Kipchoge was pushing the pace early,” Gebremeskel said. “The last one K I was pushing myself.”

Kipchoge said he had hoped to run under 13:10, but the wind thwarted his plan.

“I can’t feel comfortable with everyone on my back,” he said. “I thought I would catch up with him (Gebremeskel) in the final K, but it was too windy.”

The result gave Kipchoge a first, second and third in that order over his the last three Carlsbad races.

“Maybe I’ll run faster next year,” Kipchoge said. “I’m not going to run fourth.”

Despite his declining finishes, Kipchoge enjoys running at Carlsbad. “There’s no other 5K course like it in the world,” he said. “It’s the best place in the world to run a 5K. And the crowd is the best. It makes me want to move.”

Dibaba, 26, would tend to agree. Coming to Carlsbad for the first time in 2002 as a 17-year-old, she finished second. Returning again in 2005, she won, and now, seven years later, she’s a champion again.

This was Dibaba’s third victory in three races this year, after missing 16 months with a stress fracture in her right shin. In spite of her obvious fitness and her recovery from injury, Dibaba is not a shoo-in to make the Ethiopian team for the London Olympics.

She hopes to qualify again for both the 5000 and 10,000, but her place on the national team will be determined by the three-fastest times in the Ethiopian trials.

Nevertheless, Dibaba said, “I’m ready for the Olympics.”

“I don’t have any more bad (physical) feelings,” she added. “I knew all along I would come back.”

Still, she was hoping to run a little faster time Sunday.

“I’m happy about the race,” she said, “but I didn’t run a fast time because of the wind.”

Race day began at 7:00am with the men’s Masters 40 and over, the first of nine race events, which was won handily by Kevin Castille, 40, in 14:57. Polish Olympian Dororta Gruca, 41, won the women’s Masters 16:58 to win the $1000 top prize. Event weekend also featured the 23rd Junior Carlsbad kids race on Saturday, which welcomed more than 2,500 participants.

The 28th Carlsbad 5000 is scheduled for Sunday, April 7, 2013.

27th Carlsbad 5000
Carlsbad, CA, Sunday, April 1, 2012

1) Dejen Gebremeskel (ETH), 13:11, $5000
2) Hagos Gebrhiwet, 17, ETH, 13:14, $3500
3) Eliud Kipchoge (KEN), 13:14, $2000
4) Tariku Bekele (ETH), 13:16, $1000
5) John Kipkoech (KEN), 13:24, $800
6) Alistair Cragg (IRL), 13:26, $700
7) Ryan Gregson (AUS), 13:39, $500
8) Haron Lagat (KEN), 13:39, $400
9) Andy Vernon (GBR), 13:40, $300
10) Juan Carlos Romero (MEX), 13:48, $200

1) Kevin Castille, 40, KY, 14:57, $1000
2) Christian Cushing-Murray, 44, CA, 15:30, $500
3) Tim Gore, 42, CA, 15:31, $200

1) Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH), 15:01, $5000
2) Werknesh Kidane (ETH), 15:13, $3500
3) Pauline Korikwiang (KEN), 15:22, $2000
4) Gotytom Gebreslase, 17, ETH, 15:32, $1000
5) Aheza Kiros (ETH), 15:41, $800
6) Julia Bleasdale (GBR), 15:47, $700
7) Emily Brichacek (AUS), 15:51, $500
8) Lara Tamsett (AUS), 15:52, $400
9) Elouise Wellings (AUS), 15:52, $300
10) Allie Kieffer (USA / AZ), 15:57, $200

1) Dorota Gruca, 41, POL, 16:58, $1000
2) Kathleen Jobes, 42, PA, 17:24, $500
3) Cassandra Henkiel, 41, TX, 17:46, $200