The Carlsbad 5000 returned Sunday for the first time since 2019, with Ed Cheserek of Kenya looking to defend his title and race co-owner Meb Keflezighi simply running for fun.
The Carlsbad 5000 will be one of the last major road races to bounce back from a pandemic hiatus.
Cheserek has had to wait three years to defend his title in the seaside race in San Diego County.
“Last time in 2019 was a lot of fun and after everything our running community has been through since then, I’m really looking forward to being back at the beach in sunny Southern California,” Cheserek said.
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Keflezighi, the retired marathon star, became co-owner of the Carlsbad 5000 before the 2019 edition, which he ran with his daughters. On Sunday, he'll run the recreational “people's race" at a much slower pace than he did 20 years ago as a professional. He'll hand out medals, give fellow runners high-fives and then help hold the tape for the elite race.
“It’s wonderful,” Keflezighi said. “It’s a great view, it draws a big crowd, the beautiful 101 highway, and for me to watch it as a high schooler and then to compete as a professional and now to be part-owner of that is a dream come true.
“It’s just great for the people who have been there for the 36 years running or sometime in between or for the new people who started running and walking because of the pandemic,” Keflezighi said. “We are very excited to be able to have it again in person after 1,141 days. It’s been a long time but it’s a celebration.”
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Keflezighi, 47, retired from competitive marathoning after finishing 11th in the New York City Marathon in 2017. He is the only male runner to win an Olympic medal and the Boston and New York City marathons. Keflezighi and his family settled in San Diego in 1987 after leaving Eritrea as refugees, and he went to San Diego High and then UCLA.
The Carlsbad 5000 is known as the “The World’s Fastest 5K” because 16 world records have been set on the course.