2017 LRC World & US Rankings, M 3K/5K: Muktar Edris Edges Mo Farah for Top Spot

By LetsRun.com
December 27, 2017

With few professional events on the running calendar until 2018, LetsRun.com is once again rolling out its year-end rankings of the mid-d and distance events (2014 rankings here; 2015 rankings here; 2016 rankings here). From now until the end of the year, we’ll be ranking the top 10 men and women in the world (plus the top five Americans) in the 800, 1500/mile, 3000 steeplechase, 3,000/5,000 and marathon. We hope you enjoy reading these rankings as much as we enjoyed putting them together.

Since these rankings are obviously subjective, we’ll lay out the criteria we’re using for them:

  • An emphasis on performance in big races. How the athlete fared at the World Championships is obviously a major consideration but winning gold doesn’t guarantee that an athlete will earn a #1 ranking. For U.S. athletes, their performance at the U.S. championships also factors heavily in the rankings.
  • Diamond League success.
  • Season-best times matter, and if an athlete has a bunch of fast performances, they’re more likely to be ranked highly.
  • Runners who specialized in one event will be considered for other events but can be penalized in the rankings for not running enough races.
  • Indoor races will be considered and can help an athlete’s ranking.

LRC 2016 men’s 3k/5k rankings * LRC All 2017 Year-End Rankings * LRC 2017 World Championship 5000 Recap The upsets continue: Mo Farah is beaten in men’s 5,000 at Worlds, Muktar Edris dethrones the king

World Rankings

Racing doesn’t get much better than what we saw in the men’s 5,000 this year. The biggest race of the year, the World Championship final in London, saw Ethiopian Muktar Edris dethrone 10-time global champion Mo Farah to win his first global title. The second-biggest race, the Diamond League final in Zurich, saw an even crazier ending with Edris, Farah, Paul Chelimo, and Yomif Kejelcha all battling it out for the $50,000 prize in a race that saw just .13 of a second separate the top three (and that doesn’t include Chelimo, who was later DQ’d).

Between LetsRun (we started our world rankings in 2014) and Track & Field News, Farah was ranked World #1 in this event five times in the past six years, only missing out in 2014 because he raced sparingly that year on the track. He had another fine year in 2017, and while it was enough to finally earn him the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, it was only good enough for second in our rankings.

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1. Muktar Edris • Ethiopia • 23 years old • 7:32.31 3k sb (#4)  12:55.23 5k sb (#1) • World champion

DL results: 6th Doha, 1st Paris, 1st Lausanne, 2nd Zurich (DL final)

It was going to take something extremely special to knock Farah from his perch atop the 5,000 rankings, but that’s what Edris delivered in 2017. He won two Diamond Leagues (in fact, he won two Diamond Leagues in the span of six days), had the world’s fastest time for the second time in his career (he also ran 12:54.83 in 2014) and became the first man since countryman Ibrahim Jeilan in 2011 to defeat Farah at the World Championships, a race in which he closed his final 400 meters in a phenomenal 52.3 seconds.

Edris is the man to beat in the 5,000 heading into 2018. Can he put the event in a stranglehold the way Farah did in recent years, or will someone else such as Chelimo or Kejelcha step up to challenge him?

2. Mo Farah • Great Britain • 34 years old • 7:35.15 3k sb (#7) • 13:00.70 5k sb (#4) • World Championship silver • Diamond League champion

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DL results: 1st Pre, 1st London, 1st Birmingham, 1st Zurich (DL final)

Farah won all four Diamond League races he entered, and while London and Birmingham weren’t Diamond Race events, Pre and Zurich were the two most competitive 5,000s of the year outside of Worlds. Silver at Worlds was not the way Farah wanted to bow out at his final championships on the track, but he gained a measure of revenge by winning one of the most exciting races of the year in Zurich two weeks later.

2018 represents the next step in Farah’s career. He’s training with a new coach (Gary Lough) for a new event (the marathon) in an old country (England). How he fares in his first test, April’s London Marathon, is anyone’s guess.

LRC The great Mo Farah ends his track career with an epic win after one of the craziest finishes we’ve ever seen

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3. Paul Chelimo • USA • 27 years old • 7:31.57 3k sb (#2) • 13:08.62 5k sb (#11) • World Championship bronze • U.S. indoor/outdoor champion

DL results: 2nd Doha, 7th Pre, DQ Zurich (DL final)

Chelimo vs. Kejelcha was close for third place, but we gave Chelimo the nod for finishing higher at Worlds. Overall, Chelimo won two of their three head-to-head matchups (not counting the race where Chelimo was DQ’d in Zurich), though you could argue it should really be 2-2 depending on how you interpret the results in Zurich. Chelimo crossed the line in that race first, but he clearly fouled Farah and Edris at the finish and was rightfully DQ’d.

Chelimo has improved tremendously over the past two years — from 11th at USAs in 2015 to Olympic silver and World Championship bronze — and has the talent to become the next world champion in the event. But to do that, he has to improve his tactics. Remember, at the Olympic Trials a year ago, Chelimo almost failed to make the team due to a tactical error even though he wound up finishing second in Rio. Perhaps recognizing his shortcomings in this department, Chelimo simply ran away from the field at USA indoors and USA outdoors in two incredible displays of front-running. But against the world’s best, strength is not enough. Chelimo could have won in Zurich had he positioned himself better and if he is to upgrade his bronze in London to gold in Doha, he’ll have to master the art of positioning as Farah did.

LRC Noah Lyles Breaks World Record, Paul Chelimo Dominates, Houlihan Gets USATF Title #1, Okolo vs Wilson, Brazier vs Loxsom, & Murphy vs Wheating vs Andrews Finals Set – 2017 USA Indoor Day 1 Recap
LRC Paul Chelimo Crushes the Field & Sends a Message to Mo Farah with Meet-Record 13:08 Victory in 5,000 at 2017 USAs

4. Yomif Kejelcha • Ethiopia • 20 years old • 7:32.27 3k sb (#3) • 13:01.21 5k sb (#5) • 4th at Worlds

DL results: 3rd Doha, 2nd Pre, 3rd Paris, 3rd Zurich (DL final)

Kejelcha, the 2016 World Indoor champ, has finished fourth at the last two World Championships (he did not make the 2016 Olympic team), and his lack of an outdoor medal at the senior level may have had something to do with his decision to join the Nike Oregon Project. Kejelcha (3:32/7:28/12:53 pbs) is significantly more accomplished than Mo Farah was when he made the move to Portland seven years ago, and it’s scary to think of what he might be capable of now that he has the training resources of NOP.

5. Selemon Barega • Ethiopia • 17 years old • 7:38.90 3k sb (#18) • 12:55.58 5k sb (#2) • 5th at Worlds • World U18 champ

DL results: 2nd Lausanne, 4th Zurich (DL final)

Regardless of his actual age — officially, Barega ran 13:21 to win the World U20 champs last year at age 16 and clocked 12:55 this year at 17 — Barega is one of the best 5,000 runners in the world right now. He wasn’t far behind Edris when the world champ ran his world leader of 12:55 in Lausanne on July 6, and was in contention at the bell at Worlds before fading on the final lap. That strength should come with time, making Barega a threat to win medals for years to come.

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6. Moh Ahmed • Canada • 26 years old • 7:40.49 3k sb (#23) • 13:04.60i 5k sb (#1 indoor, #8 overall) • 6th at Worlds

DL results: 6th Pre, 5th Zurich (DL final)

There’s a lot of talent in the Bowerman Track Club, but there’s no doubt about who their best 5,000/10,000 guy is: it’s Ahmed. After a breakout year that saw him run the Canadian record of 13:01 at Pre and finish 4th at the Olympics in the 5k, the Wisconsin alum followed that up with a Canadian record of 27:02 in the 10k at Worlds (he finished 8th) and another strong year in the 5k. Ahmed finished in the top six in the three biggest 5ks of the year — Pre, Worlds, Zurich — and as a result, he makes it into the top six in our rankings as well.

7. Ronald Kwemoi • Kenya • 22 years old • 7:28.73 3k sb (#1) • 13:24.42 5k sb (#81)

DL results: 1st Doha, 2nd Paris, 10th Zurich (DL final)

A banged-up Kwemoi didn’t run the 5k at Worlds and was only 10th at the DL final in Zurich, but he was incredible in his two 3ks this year, spanking a stud-laced field in Doha (Chelimo, Kejelcha) and running a quick 7:32.88 to finish second behind Edris in Paris.

8. Yenew Alamirew • Ethiopia • 27 years old • 7:39.57 3k sb (#20) • 13:06.81 5k sb (#9)

DL results: 8th Paris, 4th Lausanne, 6th Zurich (DL final)

Were Alamirew from any other country in the world, he would have been at Worlds and finished in the top eight. But he happens to be from Ethiopia, and with Edris, Kejelcha, and Barega blocking his way, he was not selected for the team to London. He still managed to run well in three Diamond League appearances.

9. Albert Rop • Bahrain • 25 years old • 7:38.30 3k sb (#13) • 13:04.82 5k sb (#8) • World Championship semis

DL results: 5th Doha, 5th Pre, 12th Paris, 7th Zurich (DL final)

Rop didn’t make the final at Worlds, but he was solid on the Diamond League circuit, and had one of the fastest SBs in the world both indoors (13:09.43, an Asian indoor record) and outdoors (13:04.82).

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10. Andrew Butchart • Great Britain • 26 years old • 7:37.56 3k sb (#10) • 13:11.45 5k sb (#16) • 8th at Worlds

DL results: 8th Doha, 8th Pre, 3rd London, 4th Birmingham

Over the past two years, Butchart has shown that all is not lost in British distance running now that Mo Farah has moved to the roads. Butchart has yet to seriously challenge for a medal, but he’s finished 6th and 8th at the last two global championships, and is a good bet to bring home some hardware from the Commonwealth Games and European Championships in 2018. Other than Farah, Butchart is the fastest Brit over 5,000 meters since 1982 (Dave Moorcroft) and 3,000 meters since 1996 (John Nuttall).

Agree/Disagree with our Rankings? Discuss the 5k rankings here

U.S. Rankings

1. Paul Chelimo (see above)

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2. Eric Jenkins • Nike Oregon Project • 26 years old • 7:40.36 3k sb (#5 in U.S.) • 13:05.85i 5k sb (#1 in U.S. indoors/overall) • World Championship semis • 2nd at USAs

DL results: 9th Pre, 9th London

After coming .06 short of making the Olympic team in 2016, Jenkins was relieved to make the U.S. team for London this year. But being a member of the Nike Oregon Project comes with high expectations, and failing to make the final in London is certainly not what Jenkins had in mind when he departed for his first World Championships. Jenkins, who ran 3:53 to win the Wanamaker Mile in February, has great wheels, and against the best in the U.S., that’s enough. But to take the next step in his career, Jenkins has to continue to build his endurance to be able to deploy that kick against the world’s best.

3. Ben True • Saucony • 32 years old (on December 29) • 7:35.53 3k sb (#2 in U.S.) • 13:06.74i 5k sb (#2 in U.S. indoors/overall) • 4th at USAs

DL results: 10th Doha, 22nd Pre, 6th Paris, 6th Lausanne, 8th Zurich (DL final)

True lost to Ryan Hill at USAs and as a result, did not make the World Championship team. But in every other respect, True was the better runner this year. He ran faster for 3,000 and 5,000 meters, beat Hill in three of their four head-to-head matchups and set the American record on the roads for 5k (13:20).

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4. Ryan Hill • Nike Bowerman Track Club • 27 years old • 7:43.81 3k sb (#6 in U.S.) • 13:07.61i 5k sb (#3 in U.S. indoors/overall) • World Championship finalist (DNS) • 3rd at USA outdoors • 3rd at USA indoors

DL results: DNF Pre, 13th London

Hill had a solid indoor season but mostly struggled outdoors outside of the championships, the result of nagging foot and calf injuries. He was a DNF at Pre, and his European season wasn’t much better (13th London DL, 14th in Berlin in 13:45). But even at less than 100%, Hill’s kick is something to be feared, and he used it to make his third straight World Championship team in Sacramento, and his third straight World Championship final in London (unfortunately, a viral illness prevented Hill from running the final).

5. Hassan Mead • Nike Oregon Track Club • 28 years old • 7:38.51 3k sb (#3 in US) • 13:11.20 5k sb (#3 in U.S. outdoors)

DL results: 16th Pre, 7th London, 7th Birmingham

Mead only lost to three Americans over 3k/5k on the track this year (Chelimo, True, and Jenkins) and earned head-to-head wins over Jenkins (London), True (Pre), and Hill (London) while recording top-three U.S. times in the 3k and 5k. A 2016 Olympian over 5,000 meters, Mead would have been in contention to make the 5k team again this year but chose not to contest the event at USAs after winning the 10,000.

LRC 2016 men’s 3k/5k rankings * LRC All 2017 Year-End Rankings * LRC 2017 World Championship 5000 Recap The upsets continue: Mo Farah is beaten in men’s 5,000 at Worlds, Muktar Edris dethrones the king

Agree/Disagree with our Rankings? Discuss the 5k rankings here

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