2009 race champion Aheza Kiros of Ethiopia returns for 26th Running of the "World’s Fastest 5K"
CARLSBAD, Calif. – (March 29, 2011) – Off her past two performances in the Carlsbad 5000, Ethiopian Aheza Kiros should be considered the favorite for the race’s 26th running on Sunday, April 3, 2011. However, there is a strong international field arrayed against her, including U.S. Olympians Christin Wurth-Thomas and Jen Rhines.
Kiros, the 2009 champion and 2010 runner-up to world record holder Meseret Defar of Ethiopia, has a 5000m personal best of 14:56.33 on the track from 2009, and has run 15:26 at Carlsbad. The 25-year-old Ethiopian, who lives in Addis Ababa after growing up in the Tigray region, began running at a young age and almost always won her races during physical education classes. By the age of 16, she was representing her school at the All-Ethiopian School Championships, winning the 5000m. Now, she is mostly a 10,000 meter runner and represented Ethiopia at that distance at the 2007 World Championships.
In addition to the two top Americans, Kiros can expect challenges from Pauline Konikwiang of Kenya, seventh at the recent World Cross Country Championships and the national Junior record holder with a 5000 PR of 14:45.98, who is making her debut on the roads; Olesya Syreva of Russia, the European indoor silver medalist over 3000 meters, the national indoor record-holder for two miles with a 5000 PR of 15:19.96; Eloise Wellings of Australia, the 2010 national 5000 and 10,000 champion with a 5000 PR of 14:54.11, and Adrienne Herzog of the Netherlands, the national record holder for two miles with a 5000 PR of 15:34.37.
Meanwhile, Wurth-Thomas and Rhines should be in close pursuit of Kiros. Wurth-Thomas, the 2008 U.S. indoor champion at 1500 meters, the 2007 and 2009 outdoor runner-up and 2008 Olympian, is looking to improve her endurance by running a 5K.
"I’m excited to run a good race," said the 30-year-old Wurth-Thomas. "My training has been going very well, so why not? I’m coming off an 11-second PR indoors. I’m pretty fit and ready to go, so the sky’s the limit. I’m looking for competition. This will be my first outdoor race (of the season)."
Wurth-Thomas also is anxious to compete in front of the enthusiastic Carlsbad fans.
"The community and the town are amazing," the former Arkansas standout added. "It’s fun to see so many people come out for the race. It’s unique. There’s always great support from the spectators, and I want to get back there and medal this time."
Her 5000 PR is 15:28.04 at Mt. SAC in 2008. "I would be happy with between 15:20 and 15:30 (on Sunday)," said Wurth-Thomas, who ran 16:06 at Carlsbad in 2009 and is one of only five Americans to break four minutes for 1500 meters with a clocking of 3:59.59 last year. In her most recent race, she easily won the 3000 meters at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 14.
After Carlsbad, her plan is to run two more 5000s, at Mt. SAC and Stanford, before concentrating on the 1500 with races at that distance at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., New York and Rome before returning to Eugene in June for nationals and the trials for the World Championships.
Rhines also is excited about competing again at Carlsbad. Four years ago, she finished second to Defar in her road PR of 15:21.
"I feel really strong," the ex-Villanova runner said. "I’ve been running some longer races. Now, I’m transitioning to shorter ones."
The Mammoth Track Club athlete has won back-to-back U.S. road titles over the half-marathon and 15K, with her most recent win over the 9.3-mile distance at Jacksonville in 49:34 on March 12. A seasoned veteran at 36, she has competed at three Olympics (2000, 2004 and 2008) at three different distances (5000, 10,000 and the marathon). She also has run in four outdoor World Championships, one World Indoor, four World Cross Country Championships and one World Athletics final.
Rhines started her career as a sprinter in the eighth grade. "I just kept moving up every year," she said.
"Now, I’d really like to break 31 minutes (for the 10,000) before I’m done," said Rhines, whose PR is 31:17.31 (in 2007). "The 10,000 is going to be my focus for nationals and the World Championships."
Her goal for Sunday is about 15:22. "But in a road race, it’s hard to predict what the time will be." She said. "Some road races are fast, some are slow. I’m comfortable with a tactical race. I like to keep up with the pack. I don’t run well off the pace. It should be a very competitive race."
"I enjoyed running there before," she added. "I’m glad to get back to Carlsbad. You definitely get a lot of support from the crowd. Your name is on your bib and people recognize you and cheer for you."
Both the U.S. and world records for 5000 have been set at the Carlsbad 5000, which is internationally known as the "World’s Fastest 5K." Defar established the world mark of 14:46 in 2006 and Deena Kastor set the U.S. mark of 14:54 in 2002.
Time-to-Run – Pre-Event News
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