August 28, 2014
Entering the men’s 5,000 at the Diamond League Final in Zurich, there was still an argument to be made between Kenya’s Caleb Ndiku and Ethiopia’s Yenew Alamirew as to who is the world’s top 5,000 runner this year (sorry Mo Farah, you’re not eligible until you race someone good). That debate was settled decisively in the favor of Ndiku.
Ndiku, who entered with wins at the Pre Classic, the Commonwealth Games and the African Championships, used a 55.46 final lap to grab victory in 13:07.01 and since Alamirew failed to finish in the top three (he was just 12th in 13:20.81), Ndiku also claimed the Diamond Race to cement himself as the best on the planet in 2014.
American Galen Rupp ran his best 5,000 of the year to finish third in 13:07.82, while fellow American Ben True ran with the leaders until the final lap, finishing eighth in 13:11.24.
With the notable absence of Farah, this field was stacked as the 10 fastest men from 2014 were all on the start line. Early on, it looked like this race might go fast as World Championship 10k silver medallist Paul Tanui, Olympic 5k bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa and True all got out well just behind the rabbits, who passed 400 in 61.5 seconds (Rupp was toward the back of the pack.
But from there, the pace dawdled. The rabbits came through 1k in 2:38.15 (13:10 pace) and it got even slower as the next two kilometers were covered in 2:40.77 and 2:42.02. The rabbit hit 3k in 8:00.94 (13:21 pace) and as a result there were still a lot of guys in the main pack. The pace picked up slightly with a 2:36 for the fourth kilometer and at that point, Tanui led with Euro silver medallist Hayle Ibrahimov of Azerbaijan, Longosiwa, NCAA champ Lawi Lalang and Rupp in the top five spots.
With 600 to go, Augustine Choge went to the front, but that wouldn’t last long as Ndiku would have the lead at the bell after a 62.25 penultimate lap. Behind him, six men (Rupp, Choge, Longosiwa, Ibrahimov, Lalang and True) all ran as a pack, with a small gap to Edris, Tanui and Soi. Alamirew was surprisingly not in contention.
Ndiku, Longosiwa, Rupp and Ibrahimov began to separate on the back stretch, and as they came around the final turn, it appeared that Ndiku and Rupp would pull away to stage a two-man battle in the home stretch. But Longosiwa, Edris and Ibrahimov were all gaining on them, and as Ndiku began to gap Rupp, Edris went by Rupp on the inside with 50 to go with Longosiwa and Ibrahimov threatening to do the same. Rupp answered though to hold off Longosiwa and Ibrahimov for third. Edris couldn’t close the gap to Ndiku in time, who won with a final lap of 55.46.
Results on the right, quick takes below.
5000 Metres – Men
1 Ndiku , Caleb Mwangangi KEN 13:07.01
2 Edris , Muktar ETH 13:07.32
3 Rupp , Galen USA 13:07.82
4 Longosiwa , Thomas Pkemei KEN 13:08.67
5 Ibrahimov , Hayle AZE 13:09.17
6 Lalang , Lawi KEN 13:09.51
7 Choge , Augustine Kiprono KEN 13:11.16
8 True , Ben USA 13:11.24
9 Tanui , Paul Kipngetich KEN 13:12.75
10 Soi , Edwin Cheruiyot KEN 13:17.19
11 Koech , Isiah Kiplangat KEN 13:19.21
12 Alamirew , Yenew ETH 13:20.81
13 Gebrhiwet , Hagos ETH 13:22.18
14 Merga , Imane ETH 13:25.33
15 Hill , Ryan USA 13:27.58
16 Levins , Cameron CAN 13:34.49
17 Mead , Hassan USA 13:41.80
18 Vernon , Andrew GBR 13:49.68
Kangogo , Cornelius Kipruto KEN DNF
Rono , Geoffrey Kipkoech KEN DNF
1000m RONO, Geoffrey Kipkoech (KEN) 2:38.15
2000m RONO, Geoffrey Kipkoech (KEN) 5:18.92
3000m KANGOGO, Cornelius (KEN) 8:00.94
4000m KANGOGO, Cornelius (KEN) 10:36.89
Quick Take #1: Is Caleb Ndiku better than Mo Farah right now?
It’s a question track fans deserve to know the answer to, but because Farah declined to run Zurich, it will have to remain a “what if?”
Ndiku has proven himself as the best championship racer this year outside of Farah as he won the World Indoor 3k title in March as well as the Commonwealth Games and African Championship titles at 5k. With the slow pace, today’s race ran similar to a championship race as well, with 10 men still in contention at the bell, and Ndiku’s last 200 (27.x, though he celebrated a bit at the line) carried him through to the victory. A showdown between Ndiku and Farah would have been great, but we’ll just have to wait until 2015 for that.
Quick Take #2: Galen Rupp is improving.
Rupp’s performance last week in Stockholm (4th in 13:05) wasn’t great based on what he’s done this year, but prior to 2014, getting 4th in a DL 5000 race in Europe would have been viewed as progress. Today was his best 5,000 of the year as he was right there with 200 to go and closed similarly to Ndiku (we had Rupp at 27.5/28.4 for a 55.9 last lap). Ndiku was better over the final 200, but it would have been interesting to see what the result was if Rupp had the lead at the bell as Ndiku didn’t close that much faster than him and would have had to run extra distance to get around.
Think of it this way: this field included all the best guys from 2014 (top 10 fastest) except for Farah, and Rupp finished in medal position in third. Even with Farah, he’s still fourth; Rupp was only 8th at Worlds in the 5,000 last year and 7th at the 2012 Olympics.
Quick Take #3: Watch out for Muktar Edris next year.
What sets Ethiopia and Kenya apart from the U.S. in terms of distance runners is their depth and Edris is a perfect example. In 2012, Dejen Gebremeskel took silver at the Olympics in the 5,000. He switched to the 10,000 at Worlds last year and ran poorly, but Hagos Gebrhiwet stepped up and won silver in the 5,000. Gebrhiwet has been inconsistent this year, so up steps Edris, who won in Stockholm last week and was second today in Zurich.
We talked about how Rupp (who is 28) has made progress to be competitive in DL races this year, but the 20-year-old Edris was an afterthought in Ethiopia until last week and now he’s got back-to-back top-2 finishes in DL races (Rupp has one in his career). Perhaps another youngster will step up to take his place (Gebrhiwet and Isiah Koech did not run well this year after medalling at Worlds in 2013) but right now Edris has to be considered a threat to medal in Beijing in 2015.
Quick Take #4: A solid run by Ben True.
True was eighth today in 13:11.24 but he was competitive until the final lap and beat a lot of good runners. That performance suggests that with the right pacing, True is certainly in shape to run right around 13:00. True just missed making the Worlds team at 5,000 and 10,000 in 2013 (4th at the trials in both) but performances like this will help prepare him for Worlds if and when he does make a team.
Quick Take #5: Lawi Lalang is developing into one of Kenya’s top 5,000 runners.
It can be hard for Kenyan men who have success in the NCAA to transition to the pro ranks as they go from being one of the very best in the NCAA to one of many fast Kenyan runners. But Lalang’s coach is James Li, who has had success making that transition with Bernard Lagat and Stephen Sambu (who just won the Falmouth Road Race). Lalang is making the transition nicely as well, as he was the third Kenyan in this race and has the #5 time among Kenyans (#10 in the world) with his 13:03 from Paris this year. The Kenyan team at 5,000 meters is one of the hardest to make in all of track and field, but based on his performances this year, Lalang has a chance to be on it in 2015, especially now that Ndiku has a bye into Worlds.