Carlsbad Logo 2015Beyond pure competition the beauty of racing lies in the absolute of distance in relation to the inarguable measure of time.  This weekend marks the 31st running of the Carlsbad 5000, billed, as always, as the World’s Fastest 5K.  And while that subtitle still holds true, as 16 world records, 8 U.S. records, and a laundry list of age-group marks have been set on the tranquil seaside course, it is true mostly in regard to potential for national and age-group marks, rather than the world bests.

Since Kenya’s Sammy Kipketer reeled off his two 13:00 wins in 2000 and 2001 — both years featuring sub-4:00 opening miles — no one has come within a javelin throw of his mark.  Last year on a newly designed layout Tucson-based Kenyan Lawi Lalang took the title in 13:32, equal fourth slowest winning time in Carlsbad history, and same as Steve Scott’s inaugural year win in 1986. U.S. master phenom Bernard Lagat finished third overall in a new world master’s record 13:40 (behind little known Wilson Too of Kenya, 13:35).

Lawi Lalang on his way to victory at CBAD 2015

Lawi Lalang on his way to victory at CBAD 2015 (courtesy, Betancourt Photography)

Lalang, an eight-time NCAA champion while at the University of Arizona, is back to defend in 2016, again taking on his training mate Lagat.  The two will test their mettle against American mile standout Will Leer (fourth in 2013, 13:36), two-time Australian Olympian Collis Birmingham, and Great Britain’s Andy Vernon who set his road 5K PR in Carlsbad in 2012 at 13:40.

On the women’s side, 5K road world record holder and three-time Carlsbad champion Meseret Defar of Ethiopia returns to Carlsbad for the sixth time overall, and first since her 15:04 win in 2010. Mezzy, now 32, is coming off a solid silver medal performance over 3000 meters (behind Genzebe Dibaba) at the recent IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon.  The two-time Olympic 5000 meter champion will be inducted into the Carlsbad 5000 Hall of Fame this weekend, along with six-time women’s wheelchair champion DeAnna Sodoma. Continue reading


IMG_4570Carlsbad, CA. — Warm and windy, not the alliterative conditions they were hoping for at the 30th Carlsbad 5000.  Perhaps serene and swift would have been more like it. And yet, despite the less than ideal racing conditions, they darn near got world record number 17 at the event dubbed “The World’s Fastest 5K”, a moniker CBAD has more than earned over its first 29 years, as it has hosted 16 world and eight U.S. road records over that span.

But it didn’t quite happen in 2015, as Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba could only scare the 2006 mark of 14:46 set by countrywoman Meseret Defar here in the seaside town 30 miles north of San Diego.

The younger sister of two-time Carlsbad champ Tirunesh Dibaba finished in 14:48, third-best road 5K in history, but a full 25-seconds in front of runner up Geleta Burka, also of Ethiopia, the 2013 Carlsbad women’s champion.

With off-shore breezes starching the seaside flags today when the pros got around to racing, the faster overall times organizers expected on the newly designed (for elites only) two-loop course along Carlsbad Boulevard never came to pass. It didn’t help that four-time defending invitational men’s champion Dejen Gebrmeskel of Ethiopia withdrew with an illness just hours before the race. Continue reading


Carlsbad Logo 2015Carlsbad, CA. — While it was the inaugural San Diego Rock `n` Roll Marathon that set Elite Racing off onto its national manifest destiny in 1998, a status that today has gone global under the banner of The Competitor Group, it was the 1986 Carlsbad 5000 that made Elite Racing’s bones on the international racing circuit in the first place.

This Sunday morning the Carlsbad 5000 celebrates its 30th anniversary, ironically on the same weekend as the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in China. I say ironically, because the history of the Carlsbad 5000 has always been inextricably linked to World Cross, which has traditionally come one to two weeks before CBAD on the race calendar. Accordingly, one could always find Carlsbad elite athlete coordinators Mike Long and now Matthew Turnbull camped out at World Cross with a bevy of tickets for the World Cross medalist to make the trek to the legendary layout 30 miles north of San Diego for a little R & R, and, yes, a hard race in the middle. No wonder Carlsbad has been site to 16 world, 8 U.S., and innumerable other national 5K and age-group road records. Continue reading


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