Jakob Ingebrigtsen Leaves It Late, Repeats as 5000m World ChampionBy Jonathan Gault
BUDAPEST, Hungary – The men’s 5,000m on the final day of the 2023 World Championships on Sunday night was almost a rerun of last year’s final in Eugene.
Once again, Jakob Ingebrigtsen was coming back from a frustrating 1500m silver medal and once again he used his 1500m speed to win the 5,000 title in warm conditions (86 degrees, 64 dew point tonight). But unlike last year’s dominant display in Eugene, where Ingebrigtsen blasted the field over the final kilometer, he left it very late in Budapest, passing Spain’s Mo Katir with only 10 meters to spare to win in 13:11.30 to Katir’s 13:11.44. 2022 silver medalist Jacob Krop of Kenya finished third in 13:12.28.
Ingebrigtsen is the fourth man to repeat as world champion, joining Kenya’s Ismael Kirui (1993, 1995), Great Britain’s Mo Farah (2011, 2013, 2015), and Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris (2017, 2019).
After the race, Ingebrigtsen said he was still feeling the effects of the illness that he battled during the 1500 final and as a result wanted to expend as little energy as possible until launching into his kick. He waited a long time to move – he was only 4th with 210m to go and even the uber-confident Ingebrigtsen admitted had doubt that he would win until the final 50 meters. But his kick was still there when he needed it, and Ingebrigtsen ran his final 600 in 1:19.90, final 400 in 52.45, and final 200 in 26.20.
“It’s not been ideal [this week] but I knew going into this race that I needed to do a better tactical race than my opponents to be able to win,” Ingebrigtsen said. “And I think I just did that.”
It helped Ingebrigtsen that the winning time of 13:11 was on the slower side, especially by the high standards of the 5,000 meters in 2023, where three of the four Diamond League races have been won in 12:42 or faster. The field hit 3k in just 8:13.11 (13:41 pace), and while Ethiopians Hagos Gebrhiwet and Berihu Aregawi traded off the lead in an attempt to increase the pace, neither committed to the 60- or 61-second laps necessary to string out the field, leaving nine men still in it at the bell. In that sort of race, it was no surprise that the two 1500m medalists from last year (PRs: 3:27 for Jakob, 3:28 for Katir) were able to kick best.
Guatemala’s Luis Grijalva was 4th for the second year in a row in 13:12.50, running down four men in the final 100 but missing bronze by .22, but it was a night to forget for Grijalva’s training partner, US champ Abdihamid Nur, who could only manage 12th in 13:23.90, one spot lower than his finish from a year ago. The other American, Paul Chelimo, was 15th in 13:30.88.
Results *Lap-by-lap splits
Jakob Ingebrigtsen had “bittersweet” feelings about earning Worlds gold and silver for the second year in a row
While Ingebrigtsen admits he is a better championship 5000 runner than 1500 runner, the 1500 is his favorite event (and more glamorous) and as a result he was disappointed not to earn the gold in that race at Worlds. Tonight, Ingebrigtsen said he was happy to have won the 5,000, but his post-race interview in the mixed zone was fairly somber, even though Ingebrigtsen was generous with his time and thoughtful with his responses.
Whenever Ingebrigtsen steps on a track, he is chasing greatness. Remember, last year he took off with 900 to go in the 5k final at Worlds not necessarily because he felt it was the best way to win the race but because it would allow him to show just how much better he was than everyone else (and he was proven right). This year in Budapest, Ingebrigtsen felt he was not able to show that superiority due to his illness.
“I find it more important to do my best and I was not able to do that this championship because obviously with the virus and everything,” Ingebrigtsen said. “For me, that’s more important than winning medals.”
At full health, Ingebrigtsen believes he is the best guy in any race he enters, and that was on display tonight when he was dismissive of newly-crowned 1500 world champ Josh Kerr. Though Ingebrigtsen did give credit to Kerr for beating him in post-race interviews on Wednesday night, when he was asked by a Britsh journalist if he would try to race Kerr again to get revenge, he said Kerr was just “the next guy.”
“If I hadn’t run in the final, he would probably have won,” Ingebrigtsen said (note: Ingebrigtsen did run in the final and Kerr still won). “That’s how I see the race. Obviously if you stumble, you fall, someone is going to win the race. He was just the next guy.”
Mo Katir rebounds from 1500 disappointment to earn 5000 silver
After medalling in the 1500 last year, Katir did not even make the 1500 final in Budapest earlier in the week but successfully put that disappointment behind him and came closer to beating Ingebrigtsen in a 5k than anyone has since his last defeat in 2019.
With a 5000 medal, Katir is now in rare company. Katir is one of only three men in the last 20 years to earn Worlds medals in the 1500 and 5000, along with Ingebrigtsen and Bernard Lagat.
Jacob Krop medals again
Krop’s 2023 season on the circuit was not as strong as 2022, when he was 2nd in Rome and won the Brussels Diamond League (after Worlds), but he did run 12:46 in Monaco on July 21, even though that was only good enough for 5th place. Tonight he said he wished he was farther up on the last lap (he went from 7th to 3rd over the final 100) but overall was pleased to have medalled for the second consecutive year.
Luis Grijalva disappointed not to medal
Last year, there was no happier 4th-placer at Worlds than Grijalva. This year Grijalva was 4th again, and while he feels he is much improved as a runner, the result on the scoreboard is the same and that was hard for him to take.
“To know that I was 2/10ths of a second, again, from a medal and it was right there with 100 meters to go…the right word is disappointment,” Grijalva said. “I wanted to get a medal and I knew I could get a medal. It just shows you I’m a completely different runner from what I was last year.”
Grijalva was up front for much of the race and looked fantastic with 600 to go, but when everyone started kicking at the bell, Grijalva said he got “swallowed up” and was not able to react quickly enough. He rebounded over the final 100, but for the second year in a row came up just short of a medal.
Americans at a loss to explain disappointing runs
12th is the lowest finish for top American in the World/Olympic final since 2005, when the US did not send any men to the World Championship final in Helsinki. Abdihamid Nur, the top American tonight, did not have any excuses and was not sure what went wrong as his preparation for Worlds had gone very well.
The other American, 15th-placer Paul Chelimo, said that he will have to go “back to the drawing board” ahead of the 2024 Olympic year but said his legs had not felt great since landing in Budapest. Chelimo hinted at some off the track issues but declined to expand on them after the race.
“It’s been a tough season mentally,” Chelimo said. “Been going through a lot of things and didn’t have consistent training. So hopefully next year I should be better. Just a lot of stress. There is something I was going through, and that just threw me off.”
Like this article? Would you like daily podcasts from Worlds? Join the LetsRun.com Supporters Club + you’ll save on running shoes and get a super soft running shirt.