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This weekend's Carlsbad 5000 also features a race for kids. File photo/Shana Thompson
This weekend's Carlsbad 5000 also features a race for kids. File photo/Shana Thompson
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Good times await at iconic Carlsbad 5000

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, when your Carlsbad 5000 time means absolutely nothing. 

Or, it means absolutely everything, which helps make the Carlsbad 5K among North County’s premier sporting events.

Actually, the Carlsbad 5K is known around the globe and why not? 

It has produced 16 world records and eight U.S. marks as top-shelf athletes blaze through downtown Carlsbad, their soles consuming the 3.1 miles in seemingly a blink of an eye.

But the magic of the 37th edition of the Carlsbad 5K is its beauty in the eye of the beholder.

Want to go for a personal-best time over 5 kilometers — you go!

Over 7,000 runners will converge on downtown Carlsbad this weekend for the 37th running of the Carlsbad 5K. The 3.1-mile course is the draw, but the good vibes and beer garden also attract a crowd. Photo by Andrew McClanahan
Over 7,000 runners will converge downtown this weekend for the Carlsbad 5000. Photo by Andrew McClanahan

Want to take a more modified pace while touring this seaside slice of paradise — have at it!

Content to walk the course knowing that no matter your performance there’s an ice-cold beer, or two, just past the finish line, with a side of live music — cheers!

It’s an event that has something for anyone who can lace up their shoes, whether sprinting, jogging or walking is their mode of operation.

No kidding, even the children are invited and welcome. 

Before the big crowds line up on Sunday, the youngsters will crawl, waddle and zigzag their way to a tape at distances that are age appropriate.

Once while covering the event for the once-great North County Times, I wasn’t appropriate in my reporting, to some. 

Instead of racing toward the finish line, I stopped at every watering hole along the course. Of course, I called my wife to pick me up post-race, and thanks again to esteemed editor Eric Breier for cleaning up my copy.

All this fun while moving one’s feet was originally conceived by three people with considerable North County roots: Tim Murphy, Steve Scott, the legendary American miler and former Cal State San Marcos coach, and Shauna Buffington. 

We mention Murphy, in particular this year, as the running community lost this tireless race promoter last August. Murphy, true to his upbeat Irish disposition and love for all things running, would be heartened by the more than 7,000 participants primed to hear “ready, set, go” this weekend.

After a three-year pause, Kenya's Ed Cheserek defended his title after claiming his second-straight Carlsbad 5000 on Sunday in downtown Carlsbad. Photo courtesy of Carlsbad 5000
Last year, Kenya’s Ed Cheserek claimed his second-straight Carlsbad 5000 victory. Photo courtesy of Carlsbad 5000

Legendary marathoner Meb Keflezighi, an Olympic silver medalist and winner of the New York City and Boston marathons, and Cardiff’s first family of running, the Smiths, now handle the race’s logistics.

John Smith was a longtime sales executive with Competitor Magazine and his wife, Jean, is well-known in the community. Their son Griff oversees the race’s day-to-day operations.

They all do so while honoring the quest of Murphy, who also started the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon series, to bring running to the elite athletes as well the masses.

“Tim loved running,” Keflezighi wrote after Murphy’s passing. “He loved runners. He was a visionary.”

Few could see at the first Carlsbad 5K in 1986, that it would blossom in a way that rivals the city’s famous Flower Fields. It’s even joined forces this year with Marathon Kids, a nonprofit that encourages youngsters to run like a deer as often as they click a laptop’s mouse. 

The marriage of Carlsbad’s beauty, a fast track, a fitness boom and North County’s vibe of sun, surf and smiles has proved too alluring to be ignored. Its success has likely exceeded the hopes of even the most optimistic of those involved in 1986. 

Still, the Carlsbad 5K went 1,141 days between races because of the pandemic, before resuming last year. The finishing roars soon ricocheted down Carlsbad Village Drive again as everyone seemed eager to make up for, well, lost time.

Or is it a good time?

Either way, North County’s marquee racing extravaganza is back, up and running for yet another go-round. Go ahead and register at if intrigued. 

One may or may not clock a grand time. A grand time, though, is guaranteed.

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected] and follow him @jparis_sports