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Posted: March 30 2023:  

Athletics: Carlsbad 5000 Celebrates 37th running on Sunday

From David Monti, @d9monti
© 2022 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved.

  • Historic race renowned for fast times and good times returns to the oceanfront streets of downtown Carlsbad this weekend
  • International Olympians and NCAA Champions Highlight Invitational Elite Fields; Marathon Kids named official charity
  • Race day begins at 6:55 am with the Masters Men (40 years old and over) the first of nine races to take place on Sunday

CARLSBAD - March 31, 2023 - The calendar has flipped to spring, which is a time of rebirth, renewal and hope. The sound of a wooden bat smacking a baseball is a sign of spring (A Padres World Series?). So are longer days, warmer weather, flowers blooming, Mother’s Day, Easter weekend, The Masters golf tournament, the NCAA Final Four (Go SDSU Aztecs!).

Another sign of spring?

The return of the Carlsbad 5000 presented by National University. Nicknamed the "World’s Fastest 5K" because 16 world records and eight national records have been set on the seaside course, the 5000 celebrates its 37th running this Sunday, April 2.

“The Carlsbad 5000 is the premier 5k road race in the world and we look forward to once again welcoming thousands of runners to the seaside streets of downtown Carlsbad,” said U.S. Olympian and 2014 Boston Marathon Champion Meb Keflezighi, co-owner of the event. “The event is not only a showcase of world class runners but a celebration of family, friends and our community. Our team has a great appreciation for the history of this annual Southern California tradition and we are committed to producing another fantastic race this weekend.”

For age-group runners, the Carlsbad 5000 is the unofficial start of the racing season. The race will showcase a new charity partnership with Marathon Kids, a non-profit organization with a mission to get kids moving. And come Sunday thousands of runners and walkers will be touring downtown Carlsbad for the historic road race along the Pacific Ocean.

“It’s very appealing to a wide range of runners,” said Matt Turnbull, the English gentleman who lives in Spain and recruits elite athletes to the race. “It’s achievable for every level of athlete. You can be someone who’s never done a race and it’s a great way to kick off your road racing experience. It also appeals to the best athletes in the world, just a wide range of people from the weekend jogger, the walker to the Olympic athlete, it’s achievable for anybody.”

The 2023 men's elite field is led by Kenyans Edwin Kurgat and David Bett, a former World Junior 5000m Champion who finished 2nd at Carlsbad in 2019. The top Americans include a pair of sub-4 minute milers Kasey Knevelbaard and Spencer Brown. Last year’s second place finisher Reid Buchanan, who lives locally in San Diego, also returns with hopes of claiming another spot on the podium.

Mexico’s Laura Gálvan, who holds every national record from 1,500m-10,000m, headlines the women’s elite field. Top entrants among the American contingent are Grace Barnett-Stalnaker and Allie Ostrander, a 3x NCAA Steeplechase Champion. Additional international standouts making their Carlsbad debuts are British Olympian Srevee Walcott-Nolan, Canada’s Courtney Hufsmith and Israeli Olympian Adva Cohen.

With the energy provided by the world-class athletes, the live music, the beer garden, two free beers for entrants and thousands of runners crowding downtown, the Carlsbad 5000 is the ultimate spring party for those in shorts and singlets.

An oddity about the race?

Objectively, the course shouldn’t be that fast. Two miles of the race parallel the Pacific Ocean with waves crashing in the background. Runners negotiate two, 180-degree U-turns, which requires putting on the breaks, then accelerating again.

“I would say that a course is only as fast as the people you put on it,” said Turnbull.

In 2000, 18-year-old Kenyan Sammy Kipketer shattered the world best by 12 seconds, covering the 3.1-mile course in an official 13 minutes even. His race featured a slap-to-the-forehead 3:59 first mile.

A year later, Kipketer repeated the 3:59 first mile, then finished in 12:59.58. Road racing rules round times up to the next second, meaning Kipketer tied his world best mark.

Kipketer’s record stood for 20 years until broken by Joshua Cheptegui (12:51). A year later in Barcelona, Kenyan Berihu Aregawi lowered the record to 12:49.

Ehiopia’s Mesert Defar set the women’s world record at Carlsbad in 2006 (14:46). That mark stood for 11 years.

Come Sunday, an estimated 7,000 runners will be chasing their own records. The party starts early in the morning, 6:55 a.m., with the men’s masters. Racing continues throughout the day, capped off by the elite men at 1:20 p.m. and elite women three minutes later.

For the race entry fee, runners receive two Pizza Port beers, a premium race T-shirt, a handsome medal, race photo, access to the beer garden and live music, plus access to the health and fitness expo.

Five kilometers just doesn’t satisfy your racing fix? More than 300 runners will enter the All Day 20K and treat themselves to four of the day’s 5K events. Regardless of your running skill (jogger or elite chasing a record), there is something for everyone at the race with spectacular ocean views and a vibe unlike any other.

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