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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
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
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Thousands of runners, walkers participate in 36th annual Carlsbad 5000

CARLSBAD — After a three-year hiatus due to COVID-19, nearly 7,000 runners and walkers from around the world participated in the 36th annual Carlsbad 5000 on Sunday in front of thousands of cheering spectators lining the streets of downtown Carlsbad.

Kenyan distance runner and University of Oregon champion Ed Cheserek defended his North County road racing title after winning his second-consecutive Carlsbad 5K this past weekend.

Cheserek, a 17-time NCAA champion at Oregon, finished the 5,000-meter race in 13 minutes and 44 seconds, averaging 4:25 per mile to edge second-place finisher, Reid Buchanan of San Diego.

Australia’s Jack Bruce finished third in 14:04.

For the women, Ethiopia’s Biruktayit Degefa, a three-time Houston Marathon winner, won her Carlsbad 5K debut after finishing in 15:29. Kim Conley became the first American to finish the race after taking fourth place in 16:09. South Africa’s Dominique Scott, a two-time Olympian, placed second in 15:48.

According to event organizers, more than 6,900 people ran or walked in Sunday's Carlsbad 5000. Photo courtesy of Carlsbad 5000
According to event organizers, more than 6,900 people ran or walked in Sunday’s Carlsbad 5000. Photo courtesy of Carlsbad 5000

Cheserek and Buchanan, who had raced against each other several times since college, ran neck-and-neck for the first two miles of the race before Cheserek surged ahead for good along Carlsbad Boulevard.

“I’ve raced him a lot since college,” said Buchanan in a release. “I know he likes to check over his shoulder and if he thinks he has it, he starts to coast. I was going to try to time it right after he looked to give it another sprint. But he had another gear I couldn’t match. He’s no slouch. I think everyone knows that. I wanted to make him work for it.”

Three years earlier, Cheserek tied the world record at the Carlsbad 5000, finishing in 13:29. And just two months ago, Cheserek took second place at the New York City Half Marathon in 1:00:37, behind fellow Kenyan Rhonex Kipruto.

Cheserek said he was energized by the size and enthusiasm of the crowd in attendance for the popular North County road race.

“There were a lot of people shouting out,” Cheserek said. “(Runners) get more energy from that.”

Up next for Cheserek is the Prefontaine Classic on May 27 and May 28 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

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