Since the inaugural race in 1986, the World’s Fastest 5K has been more than just a catchy tagline. For the past 35 years, the Carlsbad 5000 has served as a proving ground for Olympians and amateurs alike. The race is home to some of the fastest road 5k times ever run, including the course record of 12:59.5 by Sammy Kipketer, and has seen numerous World Records, US Records, and National records set throughout its iconic history. Here is just a small taste of some of the legendary athletes and incredible performances that have helped make the Carlsbad 5000 one of the best road races in the world!
Steve, one of the greatest American middle-distance runners of all time, was instrumental in helping establish the Carlsbad 5000 on the world stage when the race debuted in 1986. Not only did he help design the course but he threw down a World Record en route to winning the inaugural race! Steve would go on to win three consecutive Elite Invitationals, firmly cementing himself as one of the all-time greats.
In 2000, eighteen-year-old Sammy Kipketer of Kenya in his first trip to the United States, shaved 12 seconds off the world best to set the 5K road running World Record as recognized by the Association of Road Racing Statisticians (ARRS) which stood for 20 years until being broken in February 2020.
Despite an attempt to improve his time the following year, Kipketer’s record race time of 13:00 still stands as the Carlsbad 5000 course record.
On a breezy race day, Deena Drossin (now, Kastor) dominated the women’s field and set a World Road Record in 14:54.
Despite a stacked elite field, she took the lead in the race after the first mile (4:45) and only increased her lead from there. At this race, Deena became the first American to set the 5K World Record since 1986.
Olympic 5000m track gold medalist Meseret Defar of Ethiopia set the Women’s 5K road race World Record with a winning in a time of 14:46.
Defar has raced Carlsbad 5000 a number of times and her best Carlsbad 5000 finish still stands as one of the fastest recorded Women’s times ever run.
In 2016, the highlight of the men’s race went to the American Bernard Lagat who, at 41 years old, placed fourth overall in 13:38 and improved his own World Masters record by two seconds.
In 2018, four-time Olympian Meb Keflezighi headlined a new ownership team bringing event management back to its local roots as a small family-owned race.
Meb and his team are committed to empowering runners of all ages and abilities with a renewed focus on youth engagement and professional athlete support.