Webb's road to Beijing starts with Carlsbad 5000 road race

Updated: April 5, 2008, 5:27 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- Alan Webb's road to Beijing will begin with a rare road race.

Webb, the American mile record holder, will begin his buildup to the Olympics by running in his first Carlsbad 5000 on Sunday.

The 3.1-mile seaside course in northern San Diego County was designed 23 years ago by Steve Scott, whose mile record Webb took away last summer.

Webb said race organizers have tried a few times to get him to enter, but it never fit into his schedule.

"I'm very excited about it," said Webb, who this summer will try to earn his second straight spot on the U.S. Olympic team in the 1,500 meters. "I'm very aware of the history of the event. I've only run a handful on the road anyway. This will be my first 5K on the road in any serious fashion, so I've been looking forward to it."

The 25-year-old Webb said he didn't run indoors during the winter, and illness forced him to drop out of a road race in March.

"I wanted another go in a longer race on the road before the start of the track season," said Webb, who ran the 1,500 meters at the Athens Games in 2004 but didn't make it out of the first round. "I know the world record on the road was set here. I've heard about it over the years, and winning it is a big deal. It's not a local 5K. It's a pretty big deal.

"If I ever decided to do a road 5K, this was right up there. This year it just worked out."

On July 21, Webb set the American mile record of 3 minutes, 46.91 seconds at a European meet. Scott had held the record of 3:47.69 since 1982.

Webb met Scott for the first time Friday. But he said he ended up getting more intelligence on the course from Marc Davis, who in 1996 set the American road 5K record of 13:24 with a third-place finish in the Carlsbad 5000.

"I've known Marc for a few years, and when he found out I was running here he gave me a call," Webb said. "He gave me the low-down about the course, what to expect, where the runs are. I ran the course and have a pretty good understanding of what will happen."

Kenya's Sammy Kipketer set the world 5K road record in 13 minutes at Carlsbad in 2000, then matched it a year later on the same course.

Scott, the track and cross country coach at nearby Cal State San Marcos, is excited Webb will run.

"This is the greatest thing to ever happen to the Carlsbad 5000," said Scott, who won the first three Carlsbad 5000s. "More than any world record, to have a top American competing here in peak physical shape, prepping for the Olympics is a testament to the quality of this race and the outstanding performances that have been staged here in the past. Regardless of the time, it will be world news how he does here."

Webb first gained national acclaim when he broke Jim Ryun's 36-year-old American high school mile record with a 3:53.43 in 2001. Since then he has steadily moved up the ranks of the world's top middle-distance runners.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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