Violah Lagat takes first for the women in close finish
Carlsbad, CA – April 2, 2017 – The world’s fastest 5000m road race continues to crown the same king: Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia, who on Sunday won his fifth Carlsbad title. The 27-year-old Ethiopian Olympic silver medalist blazed the scenic seaside course in 13 minutes and 27 seconds. American Paul Chelimo, also an Olympic silver medalist in the 5000m was second in 13:47. Sam McEntee of Australia was third in 13:51.
Conditions along the race course were decent with sunny skies and a coastal breeze that made for better beach going than logging world-class road-racing times. After a very quick opening surge from an overzealous pacemaker, the race turned into the expected duel between the Ethiopian and former Kenyan (Chelimo) silver medalists, but at the 3K mark, Gebremeskel dropped the hammer and was able to gap Chelimo, coming across the finish line with all five fingers up to signify all his victories in Carlsbad. “After one mile, I joined Chelimo and pushed the rest of the race myself,” Gebremeskel said. “It is amazing for me to win five times. No one has ever run five times in this event. This is a big deal.”Gebremeskel said that the best part of the course was the last turn to the finish with 1K to go. “I see all the spectators. At that point it is my cup of tea.”
In a close women’s elite race, Violah Lagat of Kenya put forth a dominating effort to win over second-place finisher Shannon Rowbury of the United States. Lagat’s time for the 5000m race was 15:35, while Rowbury came across the line 1 second later. Third place went to Aisha Praught of Jamaica who clocked the same time as Rowbury (15:36).
Lagat has raced Carlsbad three times. Today was her first win there. “I just kind of sat behind everyone,” she said afterwards. “I’m a 1500m runner and I was really nervous racing against the 5000m runners. I just sat there and waited for my turn. I used the speed from the 1500 to take the lead and kick it home in the last 1K. The fans here make it amazing. When you run past them, you can hear the crowd. It is music to my ears. The course is really nice. It’s so great to have Rock and Roll set up such a fast event for us.”
Rowbury had run Carlsbad three times. “The beauty of the course is that you get to run along the ocean,” the second-place finisher said. “A large portion of the morning runners stay to root the athletes. There are a lot of reasons to choose it.” Rowbury said she was pleased with her race and wasn’t sure how her fitness would be going into it. “I wanted to make sure I was battling for a podium finish at the end and I was. This race will set me up for a good outdoor season.”
Along with the elite men and women racers were the Masters Division runners who were competing for prize money and first place finishes.
Courtney Babcock, a former Canadian Olympian in the 1500m and 5000m back in 2004, won the women’s Masters title in 17:29. “I felt pretty fit,” she said. “I didn’t race too well here before and wanted to do better today. Babcock moved up from the back during the race. “We went out and I tucked in the pack,” she said. “I let everyone else do the work. Coming off the last turn, I felt pretty good.”
The men’s Masters race went to Neville Davey of Palo Alto, California who won in 15:20.