Carlsbad, California, USAKenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, the 2003 World 5000m champion will headline the elite international field at the 25th annual Carlsbad 5000 on Sunday 11 April.
The Olympic bronze (2004) and silver (2008) medallist, Kipchoge will chase after compatriot Sammy Kipketer’s 13:00 road 5km mark set in Carlsbad in 2000 and tied the following year.
Three men in the field – Kipchoge, defending champion Bekana Daba and Ali Abdosh, both of Ethiopia – have broken 13:00 on the track over 5000 metres, the gold standard on the oval. Their presence ensures that nothing less than a new world best is the target for the men’s race.
After winning in 13:19 last year, 21 year-old Bekana Daba of Ethiopia returns to defend his title and possibly run even faster. Since his victory at the Carlsbad 5000 last April, Daba has set a 5000 metres PB of 12:59.22, and added December’s Rock ‘n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon to his resume, winning in 1:01:40 in his debut at the distance.
Though he has proven speed and experience on the Carlsbad layout, Daba will have to contend with Kipchoge, who holds a track PB of 12:46:53, some 13 seconds faster than the PB’s of the next two fastest men in the race.
While he has won two Olympic medals, Kipchoge is perhaps best known for his win in the 5000 meters at the 2003 World Championships in Paris. There, in one of the greatest 5000’s in history, 18-year-old Kipchoge surprised 1500m World record holder Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco, and Ethiopia’s World 10,000m champion Kenenisa Bekele, the World record holder for 5000m, to claim gold by 4/100ths of a second over the Moroccan.
Ethiopians Abdosh (12:59.56), Markos Geneti (13:00.25), and Dejen Gebremeskel (13:03.13) are each dangerous runners, and will also present a huge challenge in what promises to be one of the deepest fields in 5K road history.
This year’s race will also feature a rematch of the 2007 Carlsbad 5000. Three years ago, Kenya's Simon Ndirangu raced to a 13 minutes, 28 second win, beating runner-up Juan Luis Barrios of Mexico by four seconds.
The non-African challenge will likely be led by former University of Arkansas All-American Alistair Cragg of Ireland. Now training in Mammoth Lakes, California, Cragg competed at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing in both the 1500m and 5000m track events. He made his second Olympic 5000m final.
A sub-four minute miler, UC Berkley graduate Bolota Asmerom comes to Carlsbad with his sights set on Marc Davis’ 13-year-old American road 5km record 13:24. Asmerom owns a track PB over 5000m of 13:15. While still in college, his duel citizenship allowed him to represent Eritrea in the 5000m at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games.
Dan Cruz (organisers) for the IAAF