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Tirunesh Dibaba Reigns As The Queen Of Carlsbad

Poland's Dorota Gruca breaks 17 to win women's Masters race.

Poland’s Dorota Gruca breaks 17 to win women’s Masters race.

CARLSBAD, Calif. — If there were any doubts as to whether or not reigning Olympic 5,000 and 10,000-meter champion Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia was on track to defend her gold medals from Beijing, she laid them to rest this morning at the Carlsbad 5000.

Averaging 4:50 per mile on a windy day on the southern California coast, the 26-year-old Dibaba broke away from a top-heavy elite women’s field to win the 27th running of the Carlsbad 5000 in 15:01. She finished 12 seconds ahead of fellow Ethiopian Werknesh Kidane, with Kenya’s Pauline Korikwiang taking third in 15:22. Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia was fourth in 15:32, while two-time Carlsbad champion Aheza Kiros of Ethiopia was fifth in 15:41. The top American finisher was 23-year-old Allie Kieffer of Tempe, Arizona in 15:57.

“I’m happy about the race but I didn’t run a fast time because of the wind,” Dibaba said after the race. “I enjoy racing in Carlsbad.”

The victory was Dibaba’s second here, her last being in 2005 when she won in a then-course (and world) record 14:51. In this race Dibaba was part of a pack of five that came through the mile in 4:49. She stayed tucked behind Korikwiang and Kidane until just before the 2-mile mark before making her move — one no one else in the 12-woman elite field could match.

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Dibaba, who has won all three races she’s entered so far this year, is finally rediscovering her form after missing 16 months with a shin injury. And even though she is the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, Dibaba still has to qualify for the Ethiopian team that will compete in London later this summer. Uncertainty aside, Dibaba is happy with her recent progress and feels that after today’s victory she’s finally back on track to defend both of her Olympic titles.

“I don’t have any more bad (physical) feelings,” she said after the race. “I knew all along I would come back. I’m going to be ready for the Olympics.”

Masters Race

Earlier in the day, 42-year old Dorota Gruca of Poland won the women’s 40+ race, breaking the tape in 16:58 to win by 26 seconds over Kathleen Jobes of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Gilbert Salazar of La Habra, California was third, also running 17:24.

Gruca, who lives and trains in Las Cruces, New Mexico, took the lead just after the 1-mile mark and never looked back. Running metronomic splits of 5:29 and 11:58 through the race’s first two miles, Gruca continued to lengthen her lead all the way to the finish line on Carlsbad Village Drive.

“I wanted to win this race and run under 17 minutes,” Gruca said. “That was my goal.”

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