Meseret Defar celebrates her Carlsbad victory (© Victah Sailer)
Olympic 5000m track gold medallist Meseret Defar of Ethiopia made her fourth appearance in this annual road race count when she shattered the unofficial women's 5km road best at the Carlsbad 5000 on Sunday (9), winning in a time of 14:46.**
The men's road race was equally exciting as Ethiopian Abreham Cherkose, just 18-years-old, announced himself in grand fashion as he won in 13:15 in his first appearance in the United States.
Defar, who is also the World Championship silver medallist, obliterated the old best of 14:51, which was held jointly by Britain's Paula Radcliffe, the World Marathon champion and record holder, and Ethiopia’s double World 5000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba.**
"I did not go to the World Cross Country Championships last month because I wanted to break the World record (best) here in Carlsbad," said the 23 -year-old Defar. "I'm very, very happy, it's my fourth time here and I finally did it."
A small group of runners - Defar, countrywoman Sentayehu Ejigu, Kenya's Isabella Ochichi and Australia's Benita Johnson - separated themselves from the rest of the field early, reaching the first mile in 4:43, four seconds under Dibaba's pace last year.
Seven minutes into the race and turning into the wind, Defar started to surge, opening a small gap between herself and Ochichi, the winner here at Carlsbad in 2004, and who had finished second to Defar in the Olympic 5000m in Athens.
Ochichi was determined to stay in the front but just over a minute later, Defar started to surge again, opening a five metre gap, which Ochichi again covered. The pair reached the two mile mark at 9:29, a 4:46 mile and six seconds under last year's pace, whioch was too much for Johnson and Ejigu who were dropped.
The women made the final u-turn on Carlsbad Blvd., and with the wind at their back, Defar opened a gap again and this time Ochichi was unable to respond. Running another 4:46 mile, Defar reached the three-mile mark in 14:15 and closed with a blazing kick down the homestretch to cross in 14:46.
Ochichi finished second in 14:53, matching her best set in Carlsbad in 2004. Ejigu was third (15:17) and Johnson was fourth (15:19).
The men's race saw two-time champion Sammy Kipketer take the early lead along with Abraham Chebii, Shadrack Kosgei and Boaz Cheboiywo cruising thru the first mile at 4:10.
Abreham Cherkose was behind this pack around the first turn.
A quarter mile later, Cheboiywo made a move to separate the field and Cherkose went with him. The men were side-by-side at two miles, passing in 8:28 after clocking a 4:18 mile.
That's when the Cherkose made his bold move, immediately putting seven metres on Cheboiywo and further extending his lead all the way to the finish. His winning time of 13:15 was the fifth fastest time ever run at Carlsbad.
More than 8,000 participants competed in nine age-group races, enjoying sunny cool conditions throughout the day's events.
Report provided by organisers, Elite Racing
Thanks also to Elshadai Negash for confirming the correct names of some of the Ethiopians
The IAAF does not recognize World records for 5km road racing
Previous unofficial 5km World best:
14.51, Tirunesh Dibaba, Carlsbad 5000, USA, 3 April 2005
14.51, Paula Radcliffe, Flora Light Women’s 5K, London, GBR, 14 September 2003
NB. mixed race/uncertified course - Lornah Kiplagat - 14:47, 28 March 2004 in Brunssum, The Netherlands.
1. Abreham Cherkose (ETH) 13:15
2. Boaz Cheboiywo (KEN) 13:28
3. Sammy Kipketer (KEN) 13:31
4. Ibrahim Jeylan (ETH) 13:31
5. Shadrack Kosgei (KEN) 13:37
6. Abraham Chebii (KEN) 13:49
7. Meshack Sang (KEN) 14:25
8. Maxim Denisova (RUS) 14:46
1. Meseret Defar (ETH) 14:46
2. Isabella Ochichi (KEN) 14:53
3. Sentayehu Ejigu (ETH) 15:17
4. Benita Johnson (AUS) 15:19
5. Edna Kiplagat (KEN) 15:37
6. Yuri Kano (JPN) 15:54
7. Christin Wurth (USA) 16:05
8. Amy Yoder-Begley (USA) 16:15