By Ryan Lamppa and Basil Honikman, Running USA wire
CARLSBAD, Calif. - (April 7, 2002) - On a sunny, breezy day, Deena Drossin of Mammoth Lakes, Calif. dominated the women's field and powered her way to a 5K world road record with her 14:54 at the Carlsbad 5000, while Sammy Kipketer of Kenya handily won his third consecutive Carlsbad crown with a solo 13:17.
Against a formidable women's field including 1993 Carlsbad winner Colleen De Reuck and 2000 Olympic silver medalist Sonia O'Sullivan, Drossin, 29, took control of the race after the first mile (4:45) and never looked back. The 2002 World Cross Country silver medalist put her stamp on the race with a 4:47 uphill second mile to increase her lead.
At the final 180 degree turnaround, Drossin's lead was 20 seconds over a trio of Ethiopians Tirunesh Dibaba, Werknesh Kidane and Eyerusalem Kuma, and the question now was: Could the 2000 U.S. Olympian maintain the pace and break the world record of 14:57 by Paula Radcliffe?
Drossin, a Team USA California member, answered with an emphatic "yes" as she motored down Carlsbad Boulevard to the delight of the large, loud crowds. In the final 300 meter downhill stretch, Drossin charged hard as the crowd erupted further as she broke the tape to shatter the world and U.S. 5K records. She is the first American to set the 5K world road record since PattiSue Plumer ran 15:31 at Carlsbad in 1986. Along with the $5000 for the win, Drossin pocketed an extra $15,000 in record bonuses ($10,000 - world and $5000 - U.S.).
Dibaba, Kidane and Kuma finished 2-3-4 in 15:19, 15:20 and 15:24 respectively with American De Reuck fifth in 15:30.
After the race, Drossin thanked the crowd for their support and said, "I knew that it would take a hard race to win with this incredible field, that a record would be set, but not by who and that the crowd would not leave disappointed." Thanks to Drossin's impressive effort, they did not.
Sammy Kipketer came to Carlsbad after two remarkable racing weekends. First the World Cross Country Championships 4K in Dublin, then 27:11 in the Crescent City 10K Classic in New Orleans a week ago and today a run away win on the ultra fast Carlsbad course. A change in the wind direction in the first mile of the race seemed to make it slower than the 3:59 he ran in the two previous years en route to world record performances of 13:00.
This year the runners faced a southwest headwind as they tried to establish a fast first mile. Perhaps as a result the split was 4:06. American 10,000 meter record holder and 2001-02 U.S. cross country champion, Meb Keflezighi of San Diego, following a "start steady-finish fast" plan was 10 seconds behind in about 8th place. At the turn just beyond the first mile, Kipketer opened a 5-meter lead from fellow Kenyans Luke Kipkoskei and Leonard Mucheru. The wind seemed to help a little as he began the long uphill stretch to the second mile mark.
Kipketer increased his lead as the other Kenyans fell back. At the end of a 4:20 second mile he was 50 meters clear of the field but beginning to labor. Meb was closing fast but it was too late and he finished fourth in 13:34.
With Drossin's record and Kipketer's three-peat, the Carlsbad 5000 - with more than 12,700 participants this year - reaffirms its place as the fastest 5K road race in the world with its 11th world record and 8th U.S. record. Or as Drossin succinctly put it, "I couldn't think of a better place to break the world record." Lest the significance of Kipketer's performance is overlooked in the glory of the world record, it should be noted that his 13:17 is the 7th fastest all-time 5K road time.