Meseret Defar, Henry Rono to run Carlsbad 5000

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    CARLSBAD, Calif. – (March 27, 2007) – With its fan-friendly loop course, six “people's races” and 16 world records in 21 years, the 22nd annual Carlsbad 5000 has earned its dual designation as both the world's fastest 5K and “The Party by the Sea.” Again, on Sunday, April 1, 2007, the women's world road record will be under major assault as the current women's record holder and Olympic 5000 meter champion, Meseret Defar, returns to Carlsbad. While in the “people's races,” an old “Kenyan lion,” Henry Rono, makes his return to racing after years away from the sport which once recognized him as the greatest runner of his generation.

    “I am coming back to the Carlsbad 5000 to break my record,” Defar said of her current 14:46 mark. “I feel I can run closer to 14:40.”

    Defar, 24, has been on a roll since her 14 minute, 46 second Carlsbad 5000 world record last spring, which slashed five seconds off countrywoman Tirunesh Dibaba's 2005 mark. In 2006, Track & Field News ranked Defar as the number two women's track and field athlete in the world as she set a new world record at 5000 meters in New York City on June 3 (14:24.53) to go along with her 5K road record at Carlsbad (14:46). Defar recently took four seconds off the previous world indoor 3000m record at the Sparkassen Cup indoor meeting in Stuttgart, Germany, Feb. 3, 2007, finishing in 8:23.72.

    American Olympians Jen Rhines and Kate O'Neill, along with Canadian Olympian Malindi Elmore lead North America's bid in Carlsbad. Joining them will be 2006 Fifth Avenue Mile champion Sara Hall of Mammoth Lakes, Calif. Rhines, O'Neill and Hall are all part of Team Running USA, an elite development group, who are now training at the Olympic Training Center in nearby Chula Vista.

    The professional women have either set or tied the world record in each of the last five years at Carlsbad, even as the men's record of 13 minutes flat has remained constant since 2001 when Kenya's Sammy Kipketer blistered the sea-side course to tie his own mark from the previous year. A $10,000 bonus awaits any world record at Carlsbad on top of the cumulative $70,000 prize purse, making it the richest road 5K in the world.

    Henry Rono Returns to Racing
    No distance runner in world history ever put together a better season of racing than did Kenya's Henry Rono in 1978. While still a student at Washington State University, Rono smashed four world records in a span of just 81 days: the 5000 meters, the 3000 meter steeplechase, the 10,000 meters and the 3000 meters, taking the sport into a new era of excellence.

    Despite his brilliant run of records, Rono would never compete at quite the same level again. In the following years, his fame took him around the world to compete, but his boyhood in rural Kenya had not prepared him for life in the fast lane. He developed a drinking problem and soon began gaining weight. His immense talent only surfaced once more when he improved on his own 5000 meter world record in 1981 to 13:06.20. Yet, even then he had to sweat out the previous night's alcohol.

    “My running was way too high,” commented Henry from his home in New Mexico. “And my disability was not knowing how to handle things socially.”

    Apart from his struggles with alcoholism, Rono lost most of his finances and race earnings, as well. He moved throughout the U.S. from city to city between 1986 and 1996, at times living in homeless shelters, before settling in Albuquerque, N.M. Contributing to his downfall was Kenya's boycotts of both the 1976 and 1980 Olympic Games, meaning this seminal figure in Kenyan athletics never represented his nation on the biggest stage in the sport.

    Though his career was short in duration, Rono blazed a trail which continues to be celebrated in running circles. His old 3000 meter steeplechase world record (8:05.4), which lasted for 11 years, stood until 2006 as the NCAA record.

    Today, having taken control of his alcoholism, Rono, now age 55, resides in Albuquerque where he coaches and has developed his own website, He has set a goal of breaking the world masters mile record for the 55-59 age group (4:40).

    “I want to alert the public that I am back into running,” said Rono of his appearance at the Carlsbad 5000. “And this time I am doing it in the right way with both eyes open. I want to teach people that you can come back from the streets and being homeless and recover your life again.”

    For more information and to register for the Carlsbad 5000, please visit or call (800) 311-1255.

    2007 Carlsbad 5000 Professional Athlete Field
    as of March 27, 2007

    1) Boaz Cheboiywo, 29, KEN, 13:19.56, 2nd 2006 and 5th 2005 Carlsbad 5000
    2) Juan Luis Barrios, 23, MEX, 13:27.89, 1st 2006 Mt. SAC Relays 5000
    3) Ali Abdosh, 22, ETH, 13:01.44, 7th 2006 Bislett 5000m
    4) Meregu Zewdie, 24, ETH, 13:06.39, 6th 2006 Super Grand Prix Doha 3000m
    5) Fidel Baregensabe, 26, BUR, N/A
    6) Simon Ndirangu, 26, KEN, N/A
    7) Robert Cheseret, 23, KEN, 13:13.23, Most Pac-10 Championship running titles (29)
    8) Tola Bane, 19, ETH, 13:57.67 (ALT), 8th 2006 Great Ethiopian Run

    1) Meseret Defar, 23, ETH, 14:28.98, 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist 5000m, 1st 2006 Carlsbad 5000 (14:46, WR)
    2) Aheza Kiros, 25, ETH, 15:09.34, 7th 2006 Golden Gala GP Shanghai 5000m
    3) Christin Wurth, USA / AR, 25, 15:43, 7th 2006 Carlsbad 5000, 1st 2007 Boston Indoor 800m
    4) Yimenashu Taye, 27, ETH, 15:08.82, 3rd 2005 Ethiopian National Championships 1500m
    5) Malindi Elmore, 27, CAN, 8:51.90, 3000m PR 19th 2006 World Cross Country Championships 4K
    6) Jen Rhines, 32, USA / CA, 14:55.18, 4th 2006 Helsinki GP 10,000m (31:24.16)
    7) Sara Hall, 24, USA / CA, 15:20.88, 2nd 2006 USA Indoor Champs 3000m
    8) Kate O'Neill, 26, USA / CA, 15:21, 5th 2007 Gate River Run; 2004 Olympian
    9) Deidre Byrne, 24, IRE, 16:03, N/A
    10) Meskerem Legesse, 20, ETH, 15:55, 8th 2006 CVS / downtown Providence 5K
    11) Wude Ayalew, 19, ETH, 14:57.23, 3rd 2007 Ethiopian Cross Country Championships
    12) Evelyn Lagat, 26, KEN, 16:17, N/A

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