A confident run - Dejen Gebremeskel takes the win in Carlsbad (PhotoRun.net) © Copyright
Gebremeskel, last year’s runner-up, sat behind defending champion Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya for most of the 3.1-mile race before spurting ahead in the final 100 meters and finishing in 13:11. The time matched Kipchoge’s winning performance of 2010 and equalled the fourth-fastest clocking in history.
By winning, Gebremeskel spoiled Kipchoge’s bid to break the World best of 13:00, established by Sammy Kipketer in 2000 and tied by him a year later. Kipchoge had said prior to the race that he thought he had a good chance of taking down the record. However, he was sidetracked by pacesetter Haron Lagat. Lagat was supposed to take the leaders through the first two miles, but only managed to hang on for just over a mile.
By dropping out, Lagat left Kipchoge to assume the lead. That led to some gamesmanship between Kipchoge and Gebremeskel. Shortly past two miles, Kipchoge signaled to Gebremeskel to take over the lead. The Ethiopian refused, continuing to run just behind Kipchoge. Then when Gebremeskel was only a few steps from the end, he pointed to the finish line, indicating that he was the winner.
“I knew I would win,” the 21-year-old Gebremeskel said. About his finger-pointing, he said, “I got to the finish line first. I pointed because I was happy that I won.”
As for the World best, he said, “Next year I will try for it.”
It’s not often that a runner can outsmart Kipchoge, who won silver and bronze medals over 5000m in the past two Olympics and has been one of the world’s most consistent runners since winning the World Championships at age 18 eight years ago.
“I thought following him was best for me,” said Gebremeskel. “He has a better PB than me. He’s a strong guy, he’s a tough guy. I like running on someone’s shoulder because of the wind (here). Maybe I had more power today because I didn’t have to work so hard.”
The affable Kipchoge was not overly upset that Gebremeskel didn’t accept his invitation to seize the lead. “I told him to go but he wouldn’t go,” Kipchoge said. “I can’t be mad. I just couldn’t run a faster time. The pacemaker slowed down. You can’t push if there are only two of us.”
Two also was the operative number in the women’s invitational and followed a similar script to the men’s race. After the start, Kiros, the 2009 winner and 2010 runner-up, and Pauline Korikwiang of Kenya broke away from the field and waged a close battle throughout. Korikwiang held a slim advantage until the closing 10-15 metros before Kiros swept past her and won in 15:13, one second ahead of the Kenyan. “The last 200 metres I pushed it,” Kiros said. “I love this race.”
While Kiros, 25, sidestepped questions about her tactics, Korikwiang, a team gold medallist at the recent IAAF World Cross Country Championships and the national junior record holder for the 5000m on the track, was upset about her second individual test on the roads.
“If you push the pace and she doesn’t come and help, that’s not a good race,” she said. “I pushed the race so I became tired at the last minutes. If I had someone else to push the pace, I think I could have run faster.”
Americans did well in both races. Bobby Curtis of Ardmore, Pa., finished third in the men’s race in 13:48, three-time Olympian Jen Rhines of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., was third in the women’s event in 15:37, and was followed by 2008 Olympian Christin Wurth-Thomas of Springdale, Ark., in 15:56.
Dan Cruz (organizers) for the IAAF
1. Dejen Gebremeskel, Ethiopia, 13:11, $5,000
2. Eluid Kipchoge, Kenya, 13:14, $3,500
3. Bobby Curtis, Ardmore, PA, 13:48, $2,000
4. Juan Carlos Romero, Mexico, 13:50, $1,000
5. Haron Lagat, Kenya, 13:55, $800
6. Diego Alberto Borrego, Mexico, 14:06, $700
7. Craig Miller, Madison, WI, 14:08, $500
8. Tony Okello, Uganda, 14:11, $400
9. Jarrod Shoemaker, Maynard, MA, 14:12, $300
10. Ben St. Lawrence, Australia, 14:22, $200
1. Aheza Kiros, Ethiopia, 15:13, $5,000
2. Pauline Korikwiang, Kenya, 15:14, $3,500
3. Jen Rhines, Mammoth Lakes, CA, 15:37, $2,000
4. Christin Wurth-Thomas, Springdale, AR, 15:56, $1,000
5. Eloise Wellings, Australia, 16:06, $800
6. Stephanie Pezzullo, Flagstaff, AZ, 16:11, $700
7. Barbara Parker, Great Britain, 16:22, $500
8. Sara Slattery, Boulder, CO, 16:30, $400
9. Annie Bersagel, Stanford, CA, 16:40, $300
10. Brenda Martinez, Rancho Cucamonga, CA, 16:59, $200