My 5 Favorite Carlsbad 5000 Moments by Ryan Lammpa

My Five Favorite Carlsbad 5000 Moments
Trend setting, record setting race to celebrate 25th running on
April 11

by Ryan Lamppa, Running USA

The Carlsbad 5000 has a special and deserved place in
the sport of road running. Although not the first 5K in this country, the
Southern California spring tradition is one of the oldest 5Ks, and like the
Boston Marathon, it can be called the “granddaddy” of the distance because of
its impact, influence and storied history.

The 25th Carlsbad
is set for Sunday, April 11, 2010, and at seven editions, I have
witnessed the event as a spectator, runner, media representative and record
keeper. The Carlsbad 5000 is not only the home of the current world and U.S.
records (13:00 – Sammy Kipketer and 14:46 Meseret Defar and 13:24
Marc Davis and 14:54 – Deena Drossin), but the race has also
produced 16 world and 8 U.S. records to-date including 7 world records in 7
straight years (2000-06). Since its inaugural year of 1986, no other road race
in the world has set as many world records as the Carlsbad 5000.

But the Carlsbad 5000’s legacy is more than just records and
fast times, it is also a celebration of the sport and thousands of runners of
all abilities. Below are my five favorite Carlsbad 5000 moments:

#5 – The First
My first
Carlsbad 5000 was in 1997 as a spectator, and the brainchild of Tim
and legendary U.S. miler and Olympian Steve Scott exceeded
expectations with the course, the sun, the fun, the energy and the separate 5K
races by gender and age division capped by the two professional races and the
cheering crowds along the course and packed finish line area. Now that’s an
event! In a word, wow.

#4 – The Handshake
By 1992 the
Carlsbad 5000 was one of the premier road races in the world and that year
William Mutwol crushed the world record at Carlsbad by 14 seconds with
his 13:12. The memorable moment wasn’t as much Mutwol’s impressive world record
or his first mile in a then awe-inspiring 4:09, but rather it was during the
slightly uphill first straightaway of the race, when 1990 race champion and U.S.
Olympian Doug Padilla caught up to the eager Kenyan as he jetted out, put
out his hand to greet Mutwol and essentially asked him, “Do you know how fast
you are going?” Mutwol’s world record stood for 8 years.

#3 – The Stare
At the 2005 race, I was there to
document a world record attempt and sure enough, Ethiopia’s Tirunesh
, just 19, ran 14:51 to tie Paula Radcliffe‘s 14:51 world
record from 2003. Time to celebrate, right? Well, not exactly because I had the
“fun” job of telling Dibaba through her interpreter that she didn’t win the
$10,000 world record bonus and the Suzuki SUV vehicle because she had to break
the world record. In fact, I told her twice because she couldn’t believe it as
she kept staring back-and-forth from me to the shiny new SUV. I will never
forget “the stare” from the eventual multi-Olympic and World Championship gold
medalist, and I understood why she was known in the sport as the “baby-faced

#2 – Sammy’s Sub-4
of Kenya came to the 2000 Carlsbad 5000 as a rising
star and the 18-year-old left the seaside town with an astonishing world record
of 13 minutes flat, smashing the previously mentioned 13:12 by William Mutwol.
Kipketer, who bolted from the start, did the unbelievable by passing the first
mile in just under 4 minutes (people on the press truck kept checking their
watches) and his only competitor was the clock as he hit 2 miles in 8:14.
Kipketer, later, flew down the final downhill straight under a blanket of noise,
and the post-race finish line crowd’s chats of “Sammy, Sammy, Sammy” still echo
in my head.

In 2001 at
, Kipketer duplicated his 13:00 flat with another sub-4 first mile,
and since then, no runner has come within 10 seconds of 13 minutes for 3.1 miles
on the roads. Sammy, Sammy, Sammy.

#1 – Deena Delivers
In 2002, Deena Drossin
(later Kastor and a 2004 Olympic bronze medalist) shattered the 5K world record
with her 14:54, and after crossing the finish line, Deena gave Mike Long,
the late beloved Elite Racing athlete coordinator, a big bear hug and both had
watery eyes and wide smiles. Seconds later, Mike walked over to me, shook my
hand and said, “Wasn’t that wonderful?” Indeed, as we marveled over Deena’s
dominant, break through performance, and just as he was getting ready to leave,
Mike leaned in and said, “Last night, Deena told me: “I won’t let you down,
Mike”.” Classic Deena and Mike at a classic race.

For a photo gallery of Deena Drossin’s world record at
Carlsbad 2002 courtesy of PhotoRun, go to:

So what will the 25th Carlsbad 5000 bring next Sunday? Based
on past editions and experience, another memorable, perhaps historic, moment is
likely to happen.

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