Road races are always exciting affairs, but the action in store for the men’s race at the forthcoming Carlsbad 5000 will be nothing short of electric. This storied race, a Rock ‘n’ Roll signature event, kicks off on April 2 in the beautiful seaside down of Carlsbad, Calif. It is, hands down, the world’s fastest 5K course where 16 world records have been set since its inception back in 1986.
At this year’s edition, all eyes will be on a thrilling head-to-head match-up between Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia and American Paul Chelimo. The 27-year-old Gebremeskel has completely dominated this race in the past, having won on four occasions and being the only four-time champion in the race’s 32-year history.
“I’m excited to be coming back to Carlsbad to race over 5000m,” said Gebremeskel, who won an Olympic silver medal in the 5000m on the track back in London in 2012. “It’s one of my favorite races in the world and I have won there many times.” Gebremeskel is realistic about his chances, however. “As always it will be tough as the competition is always strong but I hope that I can add another title to my collection,” he said.
Expected to give the star Ethiopian a run for his money is another Olympic silver medalist, Paul Chelimo of the United States. Chelimo, who was born in Kenya, but became an American citizen by enlisting in the U.S. Army, won his medal more recently at last year’s Summer Olympics in Rio. “I’m really excited and ready to compete at Carlsbad 5K,” said the 26-year-old. “It’s a good preparation for a big outdoor season, hoping to do great and get some confidence to propel me to the World Championships in London.”
Besides the Gebremeskel-Chelimo duel, there will be plenty of other top-notch talent that will be lined up at the race’s gorgeous start line along the Pacific Ocean. Australia’s Brett Robinson, who raced Carlsbad back in 2013, will return to better his 13:42 mark that he set back then. Fellow countryman Collis Birmingham, a two-time Olympian in the 5000m will also be lacing up his flats in Carlsbad. The 32-year-old has finished this race twice in the top five throughout his career.
Not to be overlooked, in the front pack is another top-seeded Ethiopian, Debeli Gezmu, who took third in Carlsbad last year. Gezmu has been enjoying a great start to his racing year, having set a new personal best in the indoor 3000m in Boston back in January.
Two other American runners are also expected to be in the hunt for the win on April 2: Will Leer and Jordan McNamara. Leer barely missed the podium at last year’s race, finishing fourth in 13:36. Leer has represented Team U.S.A. at two World Indoor Championships. Meanwhile, McNamara who hails from Eugene, Ore., has run 13:49 on the roads for 5K and has blazed a 3:52.42 mile.
The Carlsbad 5000m kicks off on April 2 at 6:50 a.m. when the Masters Men division starts. The elite men’s race will start at 11:53 a.m. as the final event in the ultimate “Party by the Sea,” where all eligible runners will receive a free beer at the iconic Finish Line Festival.