CBAD LOGOWith Competitor Group, Inc. back in the elite athlete game, the San Diego-based event and media company has come out swinging in 2014. First they introduced their new CEO, David Abeles. Now, they’ve introduced their pro field for the 29th Carlsbad 5000.

Set to go off March 30th, the 2014 Carlsbad 500 features a showdown between three-time defending Carlsbad champion and 2012 Olympic 5000 meter silver medalist Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia, and first-time CBAD entrant Bernard Lagat of the United States, the recent silver medalist in the IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships in Poland over 3000 meters.

(pre-race show begins at 10:15 a.m. Sunday Pacific Daylight time)

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Gebremeskel Three-Peats(photo courtesy, Competitor Group)

Gebremeskel Three-Peats
(photo courtesy, Competitor Group)

Since its inception in 1986 the now famous Carlsbad 5000 has built its reputation on world and U.S. road 5K records.  To date there have been 16 world records and 8 U.S. marks set on this ocean-side layout.  But while Ethiopia’s Dejen Gebremeskel won his third straight Carlsbad 5000 men’s title yesterday, his winning time of 13:20 was the slowest since countryman Terefe Maregu beat a young Mo Farah, 13:34 to 13:35, in 2008.

Thus, after yesterday’s 28th edition in the charming seaside village north of San Diego, it has now been seven years since the World’s Fastest 5K has witnessed a new open division record.   Meseret Defar ran her 14:46 women’s world record in 2006.  And that’s the newest of the marks.  Deena Kastor’s 14:54 American women’s record is now 11 years old, Sammy Kipketer’s seemingly unassailable 13-flat men’s mark is 12 years old, and it’s been 17 years since Marc Davis’s 13:24 American men’s record was set. Continue reading


Lukas Verzbicas

Lukas Verzbicas

Carlsbad, CA —  While always a fun race to watch before the professionals take off, the men’s 20-29 age-group competition at this year’s Carlsbad 5000 was even more compelling than usual as former high school sensation Lukas Verzbicas, he of the sub-4:00 high school mile fame, was continuing his comeback from a horrific cycling accident last summer in Colorado Springs.

Long, lean and elegant as ever, Verzbicas was coming into Carlsbad after eight months of rehab and two competitions in 2012, a four-mile road race win January 19th in Sarasota, Florida, and a 22nd place finish at an Olympic-distance pro triathlon March 19th, also in Sarasota.  After settling into the Olympic Training Center in nearby Chula Vista, California for the last two months under 1984 Olympic 800-meter gold medalist Joaquim Cruz, 20 year-old Verzbicas was ready to take on a strong group of like aged men at Carlsbad over the 5K road distance. Continue reading


David Torrence, 3:52 & 13:16 PRs

David Torrence, 3:52 & 13:16 PRs

Beginning with Steve Scott’s three victories in 1986, the American presence at the Carlsbad 5000 has always been strong.  But except for Steve the only other American male champ at the World’s Fastest 5K has been Doug Padilla in 1990 (13:29).  This year the possibility of a third American win will be tempered by a cadre of East African whippets beginning with two-time defending champion and Olympic 5000m silver medalist Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia. But, matchmaker Matt Turnbull has lured a trio of top U.S. milers, including Bay Area Track Club standout David Torrence, to carry the U.S. colors and hopes this Sunday April 7th.

While London Olympic 1500 meter silver medalist Leo Manzano is, understandably, the U.S. headliner, and late entrant Will Leer arrives as the reigning US indoor mile and 3000m champion, David Torrence has been training down in Mexico and will hit San Diego’s Lindbergh Field today on his way up to Carlsbad.  I e-mailed David a series of questions. Here’s that exchange: Continue reading


CbadLogoCarlsbad, California may be a laid back beach community most of the year, but each April the idyllic seaside village turns into a laboratory of speed with the coming of the Carlsbad 5000.   Since its inception in 1986, the self-anointed World’s Fastest 5K has more than lived up to its billing. Home to both the current men’s (13:00) and women’s (14:46) 5K road world records, and site of the top 18 performances ever for men, and seven of the top 10 times for women, Carlsbad is an ever-tested proving ground.  Continue reading


Felix Limo Winning London 2006

Felix Limo Winning London 2006

     The night after the 2000 Carlsbad 5000 a number of athletes, Elite Racing staffers and friends had gathered at the Red Sea Ethiopian Restaurant in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood for a post-race celebration and send-off dinner.

The day before, America’s Deena Drossin had set a new American road 5Km record off her 15:08 win in the women’s race.  But the headline of the day belonged to Kenya’s Sammy Kipketer, who had destroyed the men’s field — and the eight year-old world record — with his sub-4:00 first mile, 13:00 torching of the famed, seaside course.

C’BAD 2000 comes to mind today because Kenya’s Felix Limo, who finished fifth in that year’s Carlsbad race, has announced his retirement from competitive racing at age 32.  After a marvelous career that peaked in 2004 with his pair of 2:06 wins at the Rotterdam and Berlin Marathons, Felix is now headed for stage two of his life.

Limo’s comet-like career was cut from classic Kenyan cloth, at once the fastest marathoner of 2004 (2:06:14, Rotterdam) and a subsequent winner in Chicago 2005 and London 2006, he then fell quickly back to earth when a chronic back problem began to limit his training in subsequent years.  And now, rather than continuing to compete at a level below that which he once knew, the Kalenjin tribesman has decided to unlace his racing flats once and for all.

But back in the spring of 2000 at that Red Sea dinner party, I was sitting next to a budding 20 year-old Felix Limo who was the lone Kenyan athlete at the party, and I fixed him with this question.

“Felix, why is it that in almost every city you go to around the world you will find an Ethiopian restaurant, but never, ever a Kenyan restaurant?  Don’t you find that odd?”

Of course, Ethiopian fare is world renowned for its spicy kick, while the basic Kenyan staple, Ugali — which is white corn meal — is particularly bland by comparison.  Felix took my question with a faux thoughtfulness, as he easily read through the kidding nature of the query.  Then, with a sweep of his hand as if to showcase the large neon sign he would erect, he replied.

“When I retire, I will open Felix Limo’s House of Ugali.”

Myself, and those sitting close by laughed heartily, while Felix smiled in his impish sort of way.

“Yeah, and you will promptly go broke,” I retorted, saluting him with a lift of my glass.

Well, I’m sure Felix doesn’t recall that particular dinner or exchange.  In any case, he was a great runner, and delightful dinner companion.  He made a name for himself, invested wisely, and we wish him well in his future exploits. But, Felix, I will anxiously await for any franchise opportunities in the Felix Limo House of Ugali chain.  All the best.


2012 CARLSBAD 5000

     No world records fell at today’s 27th Carlsbad 5000, but on a sun-splashed and windy day hard along the bright, blue Pacific Ocean, two previous champions from Ethiopia, Dejen Gebremeskel, defending men’s champion, and Tirunesh Dibaba, 2005 women’s champion, marked their readiness for the Olympic campaign ahead by posting impressive winning times over Olympic-caliber competition under less than ideal conditions. It was the second victory for each in the “World’s Fastest 5K”.

Men’s Race

13:11 at the line

Gebremeskel’s  winning time of 13:11 equaled the third-best time ever over the famous Carlsbad loop course, and tied the winning times from the previous two years when both he and today’s third-place finisher (second in 2011) Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya hit 13:11 in 2011 and 2010. Today’s runner-up, Hagos Gebrhiwet, just 17 years old, trailed just three seconds behind his countryman (13:14), leading places two through six to the fastest times for those places in CBAD history.  Ireland’s Alistair Cragg’s 13:26 in sixth produced the lone record of the day, a new Irish and European road 5k record.

“My plan was to run sub-13:10,” said third place finisher and 2010 champion Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya (13:14).  “But it was not possible because I could not feel comfortable with everyone on my back. I thought people would work together.”

And how many times have you raced against Ethiopians, Eliud?  Have they ever shown an inclination to assist with the pace?  Exactly.  You might make a note come London this August.

With the two-time Kenyan Olympic 5000m medalist- bronze in 2004, silver in 2008 – towing the field through the first two miles – 4:12, 8:33 (4:21) – the Ethiopians were content to draft in behind, thus saving energy for the long slog into the wind heading north along Carlsbad Boulevard after mile one.   But after passing through boisterous crowds along the center of the T-bar course, the road continues along a desolate stretch to the far turnaround.  It was on that silent patch of road around 4Km that Gebremeskel made his winning move. Continue reading