Hurting Webb can't finish Carlsbad 5000 in his Olympic-year opener

Updated: April 6, 2008, 6:11 PM ET
Associated Press

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Five runners sprinted toward the finish line of the Carlsbad 5000, and Alan Webb wasn't among them. In fact, not even close.

The American mile record holder dropped out about a half mile before the finish of the 3.1-mile road race Sunday, his legs dead and hurting too much to even jog in.

Terefe Maregu Zewdie of Ethiopia sprinted the final 50 meters to win in 13 minutes, 34 seconds, slow for a race billed as the world's fastest 5K. The race hasn't had an American winner since 1990.

Britain's Mo Farah was second in 13:35, followed by Haron Lagat of Kenya, Collis Birmingham of Australia and Josphat Boit of Kenya.

Among the women, Vivian Cheruiyot led a 1-2-3 Kenyan finish. She won in 15:14, with Rose Kosgie second in 15:21 and Genoveva Kigen third.

Webb is beginning his push for a second straight berth on the U.S. Olympic track and field team. He felt he was training well. Now he'll discuss changes with his coach.

"The point was not to come here and do this," he said.

His best event is much shorter and on the track. Webb ran the 1,500 in the Athens Olympics but didn't make it out of the first round.

"I've run well at this distance, and I feel I have potential to run the 5,000," he said. "That's why I'm doing it. I know I can run well. So, anytime you don't finish a race it's obviously a big concern. I don't take that very lightly."

Zewdie's time was 34 seconds slower than the world 5K road record set in Carlsbad by Kenya's Sammy Kipketer in 2000. Kipketer matched his own record in Carlsbad the following year.

"In the big scheme of things, I obviously came here to run this race and to win this race and do well," Webb said. "I have other goals, obviously, for the season. It's definitely disappointing but I'll move on eventually. I never like losing at all. I don't do that very often, if at all."

Webb said he was hurting after 800 meters.

"I didn't even know how fast we were going but I didn't think we were going super fast," he said. "I was just trying to hang in there and hopefully get into a rhythm. I couldn't get into it. I was pushing the whole way even to stay where I was. I was expending a ton of energy just to maintain. I was putting in surges just to stay up even to where I was."

That was never better than eighth in the 13-man field.

"I was going to just jog it in, but I couldn't even jog," he said. "Once I broke away it was end of story."

The course was designed 23 years ago by Steve Scott, who won the first three Carlsbad 5000s. Scott set the American mile record of 3 minutes, 47.69 seconds in 1982. Webb broke Scott's record with a 3:46.91 at a European meet July 21.

Scott and Webb met for the first time on Friday. Scott said Webb's entry in the Carlsbad 5000 had clearly caused a buzz.

"I was digging it," said Scott, now the track and cross country coach at nearby Cal State San Marcos. "As a fan I'm disappointed, but as a coach I understand, and as an athlete, too. I would have liked to have seen him with freshened legs out there racing. I would have loved to see him hang in and outkick them at the end. It didn't happen."

Scott said there's a fine line between easing up without sacrificing training, "especially in an Olympic year. He was probably a day away. If the race was tomorrow, he'd run 13:10. You don't want to sacrifice training to race. You should take an extra day off but you don't.

"He's training very hard," Scott added. "The Olympics are still months away. He's so driven that he's gong to train as hard as he possibly can and push the envelope. He's a champion and he's a competitor, and he'll be there when he needs to be."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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