Kenya's Kipketer sets world record at Carlsbad 5000

Sammy Kipketer wins the Carlsbad 5000 in a world-record 13:00  Credit:
CARLSBAD, Calif. He may not be the most famous athlete in the world named Sammy, but he's likely the fastest.

Sammy Kipketer, 18, of Kenya shattered the world record for 5,000 meters Sunday, winning the 15th annual Carlsbad 5000 in a time of 13:00.

He was clocked in 12:59.41, but under international road-racing rules his time is rounded off to the next seconds. Still, it was 12 seconds better than the previous mark set by another Kenyan, William Mutwol, at the 1992 Carlsbad 5000.

Kipketer, who was the youngest runner to ever win at Carlsbad, jumped out to a big lead on the strength of a 3:59 first mile, and was never passed as he finished 22 seconds ahead of fellow Kenyan James Koskei. His average pace per mile was 4:11.

Kenyans swept the first five spots, with Reuben Kiprop finishing third (13:30) followed by Philip Kirui (13:30) and Felix Limo (13:31).

Kipketer, who was making his U.S. debut, earned $5,000 for winning the race and an extra $10,000 bonus for setting a world record.

Deena Drossin, 27, of Alamosa, Colo., also had her eyes on a world record, but settled for an American record instead as she won the Carlsbad 5000's Women's Invitational in a time of 15:08. That was six seconds better than Vicki Huber's mark of 15:14 set at the 1992 Carlsbad 5000.

Drossin, who was 12th in last week's World Cross Country Championships in Portugal suffering a bee sting in her throat that caused her to black out on the course finished 12 seconds ahead of Nora Roche of Mexico, who checked in at 15:20.

Eyerusalem Kuma of Ethiopia was third (15:23) followed by Marla Runyon of Oregon (15:24) and Sally Barsosio of Kenya (15:25).

"I was definitely hungry from the disappointment of last weekend," Drossin said. "But (the bee sting) was something you cannot control. I came here with a little extra fire. I brought my championship spirit to Carlsbad. I love Colorado, but you can't beat the sunshine. It's utopia for running."

In addition to pocketing $5,000 for winning the race, Drossin took home a bonus of $5,000 for setting the American record. That was part of a record $68,475 in Carlsbad 5000 prize money.

Kipketer and Drossin weren't the only record-breakers yesterday at Carlsbad, as Saul Mendoza of Georgia set a world mark in the wheelchair division, covering the 3.1-mile ocean-view course in 10:12. That was 13 seconds better than Jeff Adams' mark of 10:25 set in last year's race. Adams finished third Sunday behind Aaron Gordian and Mendoza.

The Carlsbad 5000 may have the moniker as "The World's Fastest 5K," but it had been eight years since the last world record was set here until along came Sammy.

"My only goal was to win," Kipketer said. "A world record, no."

The 5-foot-6, 112-pound Kipketer never looked at the mile pace clocks, said he didn't know he set the record until he crossed the finish line. It was the 10th world record set at Carlsbad.

Kipketer dazzled the crowd (estimated between 30,000 and 40,000) with his startling 3:59 first mile that gave him a 30-yard lead.

"For me it was sweet," Kipketer said.

The lead over his fellow Kenyans stretched to more than 60 yards after the two-mile mark and from there he breezed home to victory to the thunderous sound of cheers and applause.

"I love the crowd and the noise," Kipketer said. "It is nice."

Kipketer, who has established himself as a world-class runner over the last two years, has his sights set on the Olympics.

"I'd like to be there (Australia) and we have the trials in June," he said.

Kipketer was coming off an impressive performance in last week's 4K World Cross Country Championships in Portugal, where he finished second and took home $20,000.

Last summer in Norway, Kipketer ran 12:58.10 in the 5K on the track, finishing second to world-record holder Haile Gebrselaissie by less then five seconds.

Asked about returning to Carlsbad, Kipketer said: "Next year I try to break the record by only a little. Maybe just a second or two."

Some 9,240 registered runners were entered in Carlsbad 5000 "Peoples' Races."

Michellie Jones of Carlsbad, who is gearing up for the Australian women's triathlon Olympic trials April 16, set a personal records in winning the women's people's race (39 and under) in 16:43. Her previous PR was 16:52.

Colorado's Jon Sinclair won the men's masters race in 14:54, edging out American mile record holder Steve Scott by three seconds.

Scott, who designed the Carlsbad 5000 course and coaches the Cal State San Marcos cross country teams, spent Saturday running in each of the kids' mile races.

As Sinclair noted, "I didn't beat the real Steve Scott."

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