Ethiopian Dejen Gebremeskel wins Carlsbad 5000 for the fifth time

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The 32nd annual Carlsbad 5000, known as the World’s Fastest 5K, returned to Carlsbad the first weekend in April 2017 with a 3.1-mile seaside course, Junior Carlsbad races and the All Day 20K. Race events took place April 1 and 2.

In addition to the races, organizers held a free Health and Fitness Expo.

For the fifth consecutive year, Ethiopian Dejen Gebremeskel won the Carlsbad 5000, this time in 13 minutes, 27 seconds, beating Paul Chelimo of the United States, who came in second, by just 20 seconds. Sam McEntee of Australia was third in 13:51.

“I’m excited to be coming back to Carlsbad to race over 5000m,” the 27-year-old Gebremeskel said in a press statement in advance of the race. “It’s one of my favorite races in the world and I have won there many times.”

Gebremeskel won an Olympic silver medal in the 5000m on the track back in London in 2012.

According to a press release from the Carlsbad 5000, “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.’”

Among women, the winner was Violah Lagat of Kenya, at 15:35, one second ahead of American Shannon Rowbury. Lagat’s brother is Bernard Lagat, the second-fastest 1,500-meter runner ever.

Third place went to Aisha Praught of Jamaica who clocked the same time as Rowbury (15:36).

Lagat has raced Carlsbad three times, according to the Carlsbad 5000, but this was her first win. “I just kind of sat behind everyone,” she said afterward in a statement. “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 has run Carlsbad three times. “The beauty of the course is that you get to run along the ocean,” the second-place finisher said, also in a statement. “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.

The Carlsbad 5000 each year draws approximately 11,500 spectators and 8,500 participants from all over the United States and many foreign countries. The Junior Carlsbad race annually draws 6,500 spectators and more than 3,500 participants ages 12 and under.

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