(05-Apr) -- Shannon Rowbury has a bronze medal from the 2009 IAAF World Championships at 1500m, but the 28 year-old two-time Olympian from San Francisco has repeatedly shown she's just as good on the roads, taking the coveted Fifth Avenue Mile title twice in both 2009 and 2010.
Her road racing acumen will be put to the test on Sunday when she competes for the second time at the Carlsbad 5000 in California, the world's fastest 5-K road race, home of both the men's and women's ARRS world records of 12:59.5 by Sammy Kipketer of Kenya and 14:46 by Meseret Defar of Ethiopia.
"I love road racing, the energy that road racing gives you," Rowbury said in a statement provided by the Carlsbad organizers. "I also love competing in the big track stadiums, but it's cool running on the roads. Having people right there and the music... it's different. You can get a lot of energy from the people being right there."
In her first and only appearance at Carlsbad in 2009, Rowbury finished second in 15:41, a mark which is still her 5-K personal best on the roads (she's run 15:00.51 on the track). She'd love to move up one place this year, she said.
"I'll be looking for a win Sunday," said Rowbury, who spent her winter training at altitude in San Luis Potosi in Mexico. "That would be a great way to start the season. That would get me ready for a big summer."
Standing in her way will be three top Africans: Kenyans Mercy Cherono and Pasalia Kipkoech, and Ethiopian Gelete Burka. Cherono was twice the world junior 3000m champion, and Kipkoech was the bronze medalist at the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships last year. Burka, who was pushed to the track by another competitor in the World Championships race where Rowbury won her bronze medal, was the 2008 world indoor champion at 1500m.
Other players for the title include reigning Fifth Avenue Mile champion Brenda Martinez of Big Bear Lake, Calif., and 7-time IAAF World Cross Country Championships medalist Werknesh Kidane of Ethiopia.
PHOTO: Shannon Rowbury after competing at the 2012 USA Olympic Trials (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)