Saturday, April 2, 2011

Curtis & Rhines on the Roads Sunday at Carlsbad 5000

Bobby Curtis, ranked #4 in the USA in 2010 at both the 5000 (13:18.97) and 10,000 (27:33), will contest the Carlsbad 5000 on Sunday in Carlsbad, California. On the women's side, Jen Rhines was the 7th fastest American women over 5000 meters on the track in 2010 and is coming off two national road titles, at 15K and the half-marathon. Last weekend she was 2nd over 5000 meters at the Stanford Invitational. Here are nice previews of both races.

CARLSBAD 5000 Men's Race

Defending Champion Kipchoge Eyes World Record, Will Attack 13-Minute Barrier

CARLSBAD, Calif. – March 31, 2011 – Eliud Kipchoge, the 2010 Carlsbad 5000 champion, is returning for Sunday's race, not only seeking another victory but also a world record. Kipchoge, the 26-year-old Kenyan, has every reason to be optimistic.

“He was very disappointed he didn't do it last year,” said Matt Turnbull, Elite Athlete Coordinator. “He was in good shape, but it was very windy at the start. Now, he knows what the course is all about. He's been training hard for it.”

The weather forecast for Sunday calls for ideal running conditions with the temperature in the low to mid-60s and a little cloud cover.

“He's in better shape this year,” Turnbull added. “If we don't get the winds coming off the Pacific, it could be worth 8-10 seconds to him this time.”

Last year, Kipchoge won in 13:11, making his move after two miles and finishing seven seconds ahead of the field. Kipchoge's tireless training already has paid off this year; he has set personal bests for 3000 and 5000 meters indoors.

“This is a fantastic course and a fantastic crowd,” said Kipchoge, who shares his name with Kipchoge Keino, widely known as the father of Kenyan athletics. Last year’s race was Kipchoge's first 5000 race on the roads and his time made him the third-fastest individual finisher in history. He is prepared to again chase the world mark of 13:00 set by Sammy Kipketer of Kenya at Carlsbad in 2000 and equaled by him in 2001.

“In 2010, I wanted to run fast and attack the world record,” Kipchoge said. “I tried very hard but on the day I had to fight the wind and that made it very hard for me to break 13 minutes. This year, I feel as though I'm in better shape. I've been pushing myself and my training has definitely gone well. I've run 7:29.37 for 3000 meters and 12:55.72 for 5000 meters ...

“I know Sammy Kipketer's world record has been there for 10 years now, but it really is an ambition of mine to get that world record. I'm a 5000-meter runner and I want that record. I'm working towards it and I hope that (Sunday) it will be my name against the mark.”

In order to get the record, Kipchoge will have to stave off a formidable field of contenders. Foremost among them is Ethiopian Dejene Gebremeskel. Gebremeskel, 21, was last year's runner-up at Carlsbad and was ranked No. 4 in the world over 5000 meters in 2010. He also is coming into Sunday's race in top shape, having run a PR of 7:35.37 for 3000 meters indoors at Boston in February. His track PR for the 5,000 is 12:53.56.

The other top contenders in the men's field include Australian Ben St. Lawrence and American Bobby Curtis. St. Lawrence, making his third appearance at Carlsbad, ran a huge PR of 13:10.08 at the Melbourne Track Classic on March 3. He is the Australian 5K and 10K champion. Curtis, 26, was ranked No. 4 in the U.S. in the 5K and 10K last year. The former Villanova runner ran 13:18.97 for 5000 meters and 27:33 for 10,000 in 2010.

The Carlsbad is known as the "World's Fastest 5K" because 16 world records, 8 U.S. records, along with numerous national and age-group marks have been set on the scenic oceanfront course. The elite field of world-class athletes will be joined by the best masters runners in the U.S. for the 26th running of one of the marquee events on the international road race circuit.

The event began in 1986, and Steve Scott, the great American miler and Olympian, won each of the first three years, giving the race tremendous credibility. After that, “people wanted to come here,” Turnbull said. “They thought it was the fastest course. I don't think it's the fastest course. It's the personnel that make the race as opposed to the course.” This year, the personnel is definitely there.

About the Carlsbad 5000

The 26th running of the Carlsbad 5000 annually attracts amateur, competitive and professional runners from around the world. It is the only road race from a commonly run distance in the world that is home to the world records and its home country records for both genders. Race day begins at 7:05 am with the Masters Men 40 and over, the first of nine races that will take place throughout the morning. The ‘Party by the Sea’ gets started as soon as the first racers cross the finish line. After enjoying the scenic 3.1 mile course, runners can step into the beer garden, sip two free brews and then rock out to a live band. The main event, featuring the world’s fastest professional athletes, begins at 12:15pm. The event is the home of the current world 5K road records: 13:00, Sammy Kipketer (KEN), 2000 & 2001, and 14:46, Meseret Defar (ETH), 2006.

Race weekend kicks off with a pre-registration party on Friday, April 1 for the Junior Carlsbad hosted at Visit Carlsbad. On Saturday, April 2 more than 3,000 junior racers, age 12 and under, will take part in one of the eleven age group races. All runners receive a t-shirt and finisher’s medal for their efforts. Awards will be presented to the top junior athletes ages five-12. Registration for both the Junior Carlsbad and Carlsbad 5000 is available race weekend. For more information or to view the full race day schedule, visit

CARLSBAD 5000 Women's Race

Past Champion, U.S. Olympians Headline Carlsbad 5000
Mar 30th 2011 by Dan Cruz

Off her past two performances in the Carlsbad 5000, Ethiopian Aheza Kiros should be considered the favorite for the race’s 26th running on Sunday, April 3, 2011. However, there is a strong international field arrayed against her, including Americans Christin Wurth-Thomas and Jen Rhines.

Kiros, the 2009 champion and 2010 runner-up to world record-holder Meseret Defar, has a 5,000m personal best of 14:56.33 on the track from 2009, and has run 15:26 at Carlsbad. The 25-year-old Ethiopian, who lives in Addis Ababa after growing up in the Tigray region, began running at a young age and almost always won her races during physical education classes. By the age of 16, she was representing her school at the All-Ethiopian School Championships, winning the 5,000m. Now, she is mostly a 10,000-meter runner and represented Ethiopia at that distance at the 2007 World Championships.

Meanwhile, Wurth-Thomas and Rhines should be in close pursuit of Kiros. Wurth-Thomas, the 2008 U.S. indoor champion at 1,500 meters, the 2007 and 2009 outdoor runner-up, and 2008 Olympian, is looking to improve her endurance by running a 5k. She is one of only five Americans to break four minutes for 1,500 meters with a clocking of 3:59.59 last year. She said her goal for this year is to return to the World Championships, where she finished fifth in the 1,500 in 2009.

“I want to get back there (World Championships) and medal this time,” the former Arkansas standout said. “I’m excited to run a good race at Carlsbad. My training has been going very well, so why not? I’m coming off an 11-second PR indoors. I’m pretty fit and ready to go, so the sky’s the limit. I’m looking for competition. This will be my first outdoor race (of the season).”

The 30-year-old is competing at Carlsbad for the third time and is anxious to race in front of the enthusiastic spectators Carlsbad in known for.

Aheza Kiros of Ethiopia won the women's race at the 2009 Carlsbad 5000. Photo:

“The community and the town are amazing,” she said. “It’s fun to see so many people come out for the race. It’s unique. There’s always great support from the spectators.”

Rhines also is excited about competing again at Carlsbad. Four years ago, she finished second to Defar in her road PR of 15:21. She has won back-to-back U.S. championships over the half-marathon and 15K, and also won the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon in December. A seasoned veteran at 36, she has competed at three Olympics (2000, 2004 and 2008) at three different distances (5,000, 10,000 and the marathon). She also has run in four outdoor World Championships, one World Indoor, four World Cross-Country Championships and one World Athletics final.

“I feel really strong,” the ex-Villanova runner said. “I’ve been running some longer races. Now, I’m transitioning to shorter ones.”

Rhines started her career as a sprinter in the eighth grade. Her goal for Sunday is about 15:22.

“In a road race, it’s hard to predict what the time will be,” she said. “Some road races are fast, some are slow. I’m comfortable with a tactical race. I like to keep up with the pack. I don’t run well off the pace. It should be a very competitive race.”

“I enjoyed running there before,” she added. “I’m glad to get back to Carlsbad. You definitely get a lot of support from the crowd. Your name is on your bib and people recognize you and cheer for you.”

In addition to the two top Americans, Kiros can expect challenges from Pauline Konikwiang of Kenya, seventh at the recent World Cross Country Championships and the national junior record-holder with a 5,000 PR of 14:45.98, who is making her debut on the roads; Olesya Syreva of Russia, the European indoor silver medalist over 3,000 meters, the national indoor record-holder for two miles with a 5,000 PR of 15:19.96; Eloise Wellings of Australia, the 2010 national 5,000 and 10,000 champion with a 5,000 PR of 14:54.11; and Adrienne Herzog of the Netherlands, the national record-holder for two miles with a 5,000 PR of 15:34.37.

Both the U.S. and world records for 5000 have been set at the Carlsbad 5000, which is internationally known as the “World’s Fastest 5K.” Defar established the world mark of 14:46 in 2006 and Deena Kaster set the U.S. mark of 14:54 in 2002.

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