Ethiopian Dejen Gebremeskel and Kenya Violah Lagat won the men and women’s, respectively, titles of the 2017 edition Carlsbad 5000 in Carlsbad, California.

By Don Norcross (The San Diego Union-Tribune) |

Dejen Gebremeskel walked along the fence that separated spectators from runners along the Carlsbad Village Drive finishing chute, held his right hand aloft, spreading his fingers and thumb wide.

Five.

For the fifth time Sunday, the lithe Ethiopian won the Carlsbad 5000, this time in 13 minutes, 27 seconds, dusting second-place Paul Chelimo of the United States by 20 seconds.

“I want the history of the Carlsbad 5000,” said Dejen Gebremeskel. “No one has won five times. (No one else has celebrated four victories.) This is not easy. They bring champions here.”

On the women’s side, the race went to a runner with a famous family lineage. Kenyan Violah Lagat, the sister of American Bernard Lagat, the second-fastest 1,500-meter runner ever, hit the tape in 15:35, one second ahead of American Shannon Rowbury.

For Dejen Gebremeskel, silver medalist in the 5,000 at the 2012 London Olympics, he owed his victory as much to intellect as speed. In his effort to set an American record, Chelimo requested a pacing rabbit. Problem was, the rabbit scooted too fast, busting from the start line like the race was a 400-meter sprint.

After about 500 meters the rabbit was so far in front he turned his head, saw that he was too far in front of Chelimo and almost came to a walk.

Dejen Gebremeskel, meanwhile, let Chelimo burn himself out.

“No human being can hold that pace,” said the Ethiopian.

Continue reading this story on The San Diego Union-Tribune
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