2 May 2010Palo Alto, USAAmerican Chris Solinsky made an auspicious debut in the 10,000m Saturday night at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational at Stanford University and came away with an historic win by becoming the first non-African to break the 27-minute barrier with a stunning 26:59.60 victory. It was a North American area record, and not surprisingly, a world-leading mark.
Both Solinsky’s time and his win were unexpected, as the event had long been billed as an attempt by Galen Rupp on the existing American record of 27:13.98, set by Meb Keflezighi on the same Stanford University track nine years ago.
Using superior finishing power rooted in his 3:37 speed in the 1500m, the barrel-chested 25-year-old Wisconsin native broke open a four-runner pack with 700 metres remaining and closed out the final two laps in 60.0 and 56.2 to record the landmark win over Rupp and two African challengers. As Solinsky crossed the finish, a Bannister-like aura came over the American spectators as they turned their eyes to the finish-line clock to realise they had seen something truly remarkable.
Although 30 African runners had preceded Solinsky under 27 minutes, tonight’s performance signaled that the feat was no longer their exclusive domain.
Kenyan Simon Ndirangu took the field past the first four kilometres, beginning with an undulating mélange of early laps ranging from 64 to 68 seconds before settling into repeated circuits in the desired range of 65.5 seconds or less. Ndirangu’s countryman, 20-year-old Mathew Kisorio - himself a 13:02 5K runner last season - then took over and pulled the group to 13:34 at the halfway point, which augured for a successful American record run.
At 6500 metres, Rupp set out on his own and maintained the 64-65 tempo well, with Kenyans Sam Chelanga and Daniel Salel, plus Solinsky, following in a tight pack.
Rupp pushed the pace even harder at 8500, and within 100 metres, Solinsky responded to move past the Kenyans into second behind the Beijing 10,000m finalist. Just slightly more than a lap later, at 9300 metres, Solinsky went strongly to the front and enjoyed an advantage of almost ten metres before Rupp himself tried vainly to stage a comeback. Soon, both Chelanga and Salel passed the fading Rupp, whose goal of an American record was suddenly shattered.
In all, 11 of the 24 finishers broke the 28-minute level, once again demonstrating the magic of the Cobb Track at Angell Field in producing magnificent distance performances. Salel (27:07.85), Chelanga (27:08.39) and Rupp (27:10.74) all scored personal bests ahead of the evening’s goal of 27:13.98, as did all of the top eight finishers.
Solinksy – ‘I’m still really a 5K guy’
Still on an adrenalin high, Solinsky was remarkably fresh after the end of his 25-lap race. “I really didn’t come here to run a fast time,” he said to the gathered media. “I came here to win. I knew the time would take care of itself.”
A side stitch which came shortly before the halfway point caused him some anxiety, but after six or seven laps of deep breathing, the situation abated, “and with a mile to go, I knew I would finish.”
“I had no idea of what would happen tonight. I felt that a time between 26:55 and 28:00 was possible for me. I’m still really a 5K guy. I’m just dabbling with this at the moment.”
The affable Solinsky was quick to pay tribute to those who had gone before. “The old American record by Meb was really a solid one. As I traveled here, I was telling myself I would be quite content to run a 27:20, especially as a newcomer to the event. But all of this would never have happened without Galen and the pacemakers. I know I’ll take a lot of heat for letting Galen do all the work and then kicking at the end, but, as I said before, I never chase times. I just try to win. That’s our group’s philosophy.”
Training under the tutelage of Jerry Schumaker ever since his student days at the University of Wisconsin, Solinsky has made an American 5000m record attempt (12:56.27) the big goal for this season. “I plan to run the event in Oslo in early June just to ‘get the kinks out’. But the big race is planned for the (Prefontaine Classic) in early July. The mission is to run a sub-13 on American soil.”
Rowbury upsets Flanagan in 5000m
Another upset in a distance race occurred about an hour before the men’s 10,000m bombshell. Shannon Rowbury used a late attack to chew up Shalane Flanagan’s big advantage to win the women’s 5000m in a world-leading and PB 15:00.51, as Flanagan clocked 15:04.23. Amy Begley was third in a PB 15:05.59.
Flanagan was left in the lead after 1600 when pacesetter Megan Metcalfe departed. Running alone far in front of the others, Flanagan may not have known how Rowbury and Begley were pacing each other with alternating leads. Slowly, Flanagan’s insurmountable lead became attackable. Coming down the final straight for the penultimate time, Rowbury started accelerating hard and finally passed Flanagan with 100 metres remaining.
“I’m still looking to extend my running range,” remarked Rowbury. “It’s still a long race for me.”
In the men’s 5000, Estonia’s Tiidrek Nurme continued his spring California campaign with a 13:32.74 victory. The 24-year-old went to the lead with 800 metres remaining, as Ed Moran closed quickly to take second in 13:33.85, passing Japan’s Masato Kihara (PB 13:34.21) moments before the finish line.
Molly Huddle held the lead virtually the entire way in her 31:48.59 win in the women’s 10,000m. Desiree Davila (32:06.85) and Amy Hastings (32:28.77) were the next two to finish.
Clear, sunny skies with warm (23C) temperatures were mixed with swirling winds, making Amaechi Morton’s PB 50.03 clocking in the men’s 400m Hurdles one of the outstanding track races preceding the evening’s distance programme.
Jen Barringer posted a world-leading time in the women’s 1500m by sweeping past erstwhile leader Morgan Uceny coming off the final curve to win, 4:08.11 to 4:09.13.
The men’s 800 metres saw a powerful Borzakovskiy-style come-from-far-back finish by 19-year-old Casimir Loxsom whose PB 1:46.74 barely held off a furious finish by David Torrence (1:46.83).
Standing out among the field event results was the 61.32m discus win by Beijing Olympian Martin Maric of Croatia.
[Ed note: originally published at 11:10 CET, updated at 12:00 CET.]
Ed Gordon for the IAAF
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