Carlsbad 5000 Race Report
Carlsbad 5000 - “World’s Fastest 5K”
Collaboratively written by: Sean Abeyta, Sofie Schunk, and Brett Winegar
If you’re a runner and haven’t had the privilege to experience the Carlsbad 5000, add it to your race calendar! This road race is extremely well organized, brings in good competition, and is located in the coastal beach town of Carlsbad, CA which is loaded with food, entertainment, and shops for everyone. The registration fee is surprisingly modest which also really allows you to take advantage of your time in Southern California instead of pinching pennies. It is a great baseline race to do year after year, as many of the locals do!
This year marked the race’s 37th Anniversary after an almost 3-year hiatus (virtual only) since 2020 due to the recent pandemic, bringing extra hype. Meb Keflezighi, representing Groundwork Endurance who put on the Carlsbad 5000, was on-site doing book signings the day before and greeted all the runners when they crossed the finish line. The local community has embraced this event, lining the streets of Carlsbad to help cheer on runners from all the race categories, it’s absolutely electric! From the pre-race expo the day prior to the post-race entertainment this race checked all the boxes and deserves a repeat visit.
The ABQ Dukes Squad
This year the race kicked off on May 22nd, but typically you’d expect to make the trip in early April. A small group of three, Sofie Schunk, Brett Winegar & Sean Abeyta, headed to sunny Southern California to bring some New Mexico spice to this event. Sofie would be entered in the Women’s Open while Brett & Sean would be in the Men’s Masters (Fun Fact: due to the race size, there are four total races: Men’s and Women’s Masters, and Men’s and Women’s Open prior to the Pro-Elite race). Fortunately, Sofie had lived in San Diego for a number of years and as a veteran to the event took charge of the daily logistics. We all flew into San Diego, rented a car, and took to the streets. That evening we had dinner with one of Sofie’s past co-workers and training partners from Prado Racing Team (PRT) whom would also be entered in the Men’s Masters race.
The following morning we met for a pre-race shakeout with Sofie’s old running club, PRT, whom welcomed us with open arms showing us a popular loop they train at every Saturday (Lake Miramar, known for some fast 5-mile loops!) and met for coffee after. We then made the trip to Carlsbad for packet pick-up, checked out the expo, walked a portion of the course and sat down for some lunch. We took a scenic route along PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) back to San Diego, met for dinner and relaxed the rest of the evening in preparation for a big day of racing. Some of the most cherished moments and conversation were around reflection of an awesome training block and training partners keeping each other accountable throughout the process– Sean always encouraging and motivating the tempo grind with the best calming advice, Sofie digging and pushing the speed reps, and Brett while overcoming a hammy injury for the first part of the block, remained consistent as ever to keep the group in check–all of which paid off on race day. We’d also be remiss to ignore the mastermind behind the curtain, Andrea McArdle, coaching us through it all. It was also great to share stories and memories, gaining some awesome friends in this whole process! (Fun Fact: PRT’s Coach Paul Wellman, pictured below, ran with Jesse Armijo in college!)
It was an early call the next morning as the Men’s Master’s division would kick things off at 6:55am. PRT once again extended their hospitality by allowing the three of us to camp out at their tent for the day and we had the privilege to meet more of the team throughout the day.
Sean & Brett would warm the streets for the races to come, finishing 16th (16:56) & 20th (17:06), respectively, setting inspiration and passing along much-appreciated tips and tricks. The course wasn’t as flat as expected, but the competition was high making it possible for quick times. Sofie would then tear things up in the Women’s Open in arguably the most exciting sprint finishes out of the day’s races, finishing 1st overall and a massive 5k PB (16:46)!!! The energy of the crowd, seeing new and old friends, teammates, and fans, hearing their cheers, and the feeling of racing for something larger than yourself, for and with others, truly made all the difference!
The race fields were impressive for a local 5k race and runners from all over the globe were present to take a stab at this course which is renowned for being “fast” due to the competition, not necessarily the course itself. The Elite Fields were small, but extremely quick, with Edward Cheserek leading the way for the Men in 13:44 and Biruktayit Degefa for the Women in 15:29. Due to size of the other fields they all had separate gun times: Men’s Masters (886 entrants), Women’s Masters (893 entrants), Men’s Open (830 entrants), Women’s Open (637 entrants), Peoples Race (1,703 entrants), Junior 1-Mile (371 entrants) & Junior 1/2-Mile (197 entrants). There were also a number of runners that participated in the All-Day-20k who ran in both Master’s and Open races. This makes it fun, because by the time spectators and runners make it to view the Pro race there’s been time to refuel (and maybe down a SD Craft beer.. or two!), crowds have grown, and the SoCal tans are starting to shine through.
Work Hard, Race Hace, Celebrate Hard
After the races we joined PRT in the beer garden (Pizza Port brews a special beer for the event each year!), met at a local sandwich shop to watch the Elite Fields and then headed to a Mexican restaurant for some margaritas to cap things off. We were all so thankful of PRT’s hospitality and willingness to make the three of us feel at home. That night we celebrated a great training block and an epic experience in Carlsbad. With good company and great racing this was hands down a race weekend for the books and hopefully becomes an annual tradition for the Dukes Track Club. So, cheers to lifelong friends, memories, and continually improving, whether it’s getting faster or just having fun and building the running community!
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