Monday, April 22, 2024

2024 Carlsbad 5000-Kicked that Bucket!-Report on Masters Performances on the New Course

 April 21, 2024 What runner does not have the Carlsbad 5000 on their 'Bucket' list? I have never heard anyone say they have no interest in it. What's not to like? It is flat and fast; and the weather almost always cooperates with sunshine and moderate winds. It is rare to race outside the 45 to 65-degree range. Billed as 'The World's Fastest 5K', it can boast that 16 World Records have been set there. The race now takes place on the first Sunday in April; they introduced a new course this year. It solves one problem the old course had; it used to finish across a set of railroad tracks. They could usually plan around train schedules, but they definitely had to keep their race series tightly on schedule at all times. The Carlsbad 5000 is not just a single race, it is truly a festival of races. If you think you've seen the last race, hold onto your hat. There is almost always at least one more coming. That means logistics are critical; the organizers do an incredible job of keeping things on track!

The Mass Participation part of the Carlsbad 5000- Runners Heading Out as Other Runners are Heading Back All Photos courtesy of the Carlsbad 5000

In addition to solving the train tracks problem, they straightened out the course, eliminating one 90-degree turn and one 180-degree turn. That tends to make the course less technical, so slightly faster. But to accomplish that, they had to stretch the course out further south of the village. That introduced more of a drop on the way out and more of a rise on the way back. That tended to offset the gains. Either way it is still a very fast course! 

My Race. Before I get into the general recap, I came in off a 5th place Men's 75-79 finish at the USATF Masters 5 Km national Championships in Atlanta on February 25th. I ran 25:35 there. That course has over 160 feet of elevation change, not bad by Atlanta standards but definitely not flat and fast! In between that race and this, I ran a local 5 km in Holland, Michigan in 25:07. That course was not as hilly as Atlanta but not as flat as Carlsbad, plus it was a double-digit wind day. Of course, that course is uncertified, so the course could be short. Still, I had high hopes of breaking 25:00 on the fast course in Carlsbad. Unfortunately, I picked up a mild cold about a week before Carlsbad. I thought I would shake it and almost did, but then the travel, with my lowered resistance, allowed it to come back. Not horrible but maybe that made a difference. In any case, I did not have the race I hoped for. I ran 26:01 and finished 7th in the age division. It was disappointing. But, on the other hand, it gives me a reason to come back. I did have a great time chilling with my son who came down from San Fran. 

Matt and Me, enjoying the San Diego Botanic Gardens the Day Before the Race

I also met a few folks I knew either directly, through Strava, or through blogging about them on this site. Somehow, I managed to miss all my Cal Coast comrades in arms--not sure how that happened! I also got to have a short talk with Tracy Sundlun, who is organizing the World Road Racing Championships (of World Athletics) for September 26 to 28, 2025 in San Diego. Sundlun introduced me to John SmithEndurance Sports, the organizer of this outstanding day of races who was, of course, hard at work at the finish line!

Lots of folks had great races! The Masters Women have their own race which went off at 7 AM. They were followed fifty minutes later by the Masters Men. Meriah Earle Escondido CA topped the field of Masters Women in 17:21. Roosevelt Cook Hesperia CA led the way for the Men's field in 15:15. The top age grading performances were turned in by Kris Clark Salida CO in the Women's race; her 19:27 at age 61 graded at a nifty 96.26%. Kevin Ostenberg Newcastle CA headed the Men's list; his 17:25 at age 63 earned a 93.56%. Both were well up into the World Class range.

[Age Grade scores map an individual's time for a given distance into a percentage that represents how close they came to a projected World's Best time for that individual's age and sex. The scores are called Performance Level Percentages, PLP's for short, with numbers closer to 100.00% being better. PLP's 90% and above are called 'World Class', with PLP's 80% and above called 'National Class.']

Top Five Age Grade Scores/PLP's:


Kris Clark 61 19:27 96.26

Kristine Clark winner of Women's 60-64 and top Age Grade Score

Susan Evans 64 20:32 94.70

Leslie Cohen 68 22:10 92.46

Amy Halseth 54 18:44 92.01

Meriah Earle 45 17:21 90.36


Kevin Ostenberg 63 17:25 93.56

Kevin Ostenberg on his way to the Men's 60-64 Win and the Top Age Grade score

Emmet Hogan 55 16:37 91.56

Roosevelt Cook 44 15:15 91.43

Todd Rose 50 16:13 90.08

Dick Robinson 62 18:03 89.48

Detailed recaps follow for the overall Masters Championships and for Age Group podiums.


WOMEN Meriah Earle Escondido CA was a strong favorite for the Overall win. Her most recent appearance at a Masters National Championship was at Club Cross in San Francisco in December 2022. She took the overall win there by twenty seconds over Maggie Shearer Newbury Park CA. More recently, Earle finished 61st out of 116 in the Olympic Marathon Trials in Orlando, clocking 2:39:46 on that very warm day in Orlando. Shearer was in the field at Carlsbad. But she was injured shortly after San Francisco and missed racing for much of 2023. Her first race after emerging from rehab was the Dana Point Turkey Trot last Thanksgiving where she clocked 19:19. That looks pretty good until one recalls that in 2022 at the same race, she chose the 10K and clocked 36:41! By the end of February, Shearer was able to win the Brea 8K in 30:33, roughly equivalent to an 18:54 5K. Clearly making progress but it would be too early in the comeback to contest for the win. Other top contenders included Karla Khalifa San Diego CA and Jennifer Santa Maria San Diego CA. Khalifa ran 17:32 here last year in her last year before becoming a Masters runner. A recent demonstration of her fitness was the Kook Run on February 24, where Khalifa ran a 37:06 10K. On Independence Day last year, Santa Maria ran a 38:58 10K and on Thanksgiving last year, she clocked 19:51 on Thanksgiving Day. 

When the gun sounded, Earle moved away confidently. By the end of the first Mile, Earle had a lead of over a hundred meters on the field. Shearer was leading the chase, a good sign. As her Coach observed to me at Club Cross Country in 2023, "Maggie is a gamer!" Shearer had about 25 meters on Khalifa, with Santa Maria ten meters further back. Earle had no problem the rest of the way, adding substantially to her lead with each passing mile. Earle took the win in 17:21 with over 200 meters to spare, a handsome effort! 

Meriah Earle wins the Women's Masters Race

As the chasers moved further south on Carlsbad Boulevard and swung around the 180-degree turn, Khalifa began to creep up on Shearer. When they hit the 2-mile mark where the incline starts to bite, Khalifa was just ten meters behind Shearer, who hit the 2 Mile in 11:44. Santa Maria was still over 3 meter behind Shearer. That stretch from mile 2.0 to 2.5 was a tough one. Khalifa was able to close and then pass Shearer, finishing in 18:18 in 2nd place. 

Karla Khalifa finishing second in the Masters Women's Race

Shearer gave it all she had but could not hold off Santa Maria, who closed hard to take third in 18:24. 

Jennifer Santa Maria nails the final overall podium spot with an 18:24 effort.

Shearer was fourth in 18:32.

Meriah Earle 17:21     Karla Khalifa 18:18     Jennifer Santa Maria 18:24

MEN As with the Women, there was a clear favorite. Since the race started up with in person racing after Covid, Roosevelt Cook has finished either first or second in the Masters race. Two years ago he won by almost half a minute in 15:08. Last year Cook finished 2nd to Sergio Reyes (not entered this year) in 15:12. The main challengers appeared to be Randy Arriola Scottsdale AZ, James Horman Appleton, GBR, Glenn Racz Temecula CA, and Jake Stout Brush Prairie WA. A 1:08 Half Marathoner pre-covid, Arriola apparently took a break from racing. This past year he raced to a 1:15:24 at the Mesa Half Marathon and a 2:50:07 at the Buckeye Marathon, both in Arizona. Horman ran the 2023 London Marathon in 2:28:49. Primarily engaged in Spartan/Obstacle events, Racz finished 3rd in this Masters race last year in 15:58. Stout was first Masters at the 8 Km Shamrock Run in Portland OR in 25:15. That equates roughly to a 15:38 5K. Cook, the top 40-44 runner for the Cal Coast Track Club, gradually moved to the front in the first mile, which he covered in 4:47. Arriola was a couple of strides back with Stout and Horman in close sequence behind him. Racz started more cautiously and was twenty meters behind Horman. By the time he hit the beginning of the incline at Mile 2 in 9:43, Cook had 25 meters on the field. Arriola and Stout were running in tandem, vying for second and third, with Horman ten meters behind them. Racz was fifty meters behind Horman and would not contest the podium this year. The incline slowed everyone's pace relative to the first and second miles but Cook slowed the least. His 5:02 pace for the final 1.1 miles brought him home in 15:15, three seconds off his winning time from last year. It was a dominant win! 

Roosevelt Cook soars across the finish line in first place overall in the Men's Masters Race at 15:15!

Stout was just able to keep Horman at bay, finishing in second place, eighteen seconds after Cook crossed the line. 

Jake Stout and James Horman finishing 2-3 Overall in the Men's Masters race at the 2024 Carlsbad 5000

Horman closed at 5:08/mile pace, missing second by just three seconds! Arriola was fourth in 15:47, with Racz running a strong last mile to finish six seconds behind Arriola in fifth.

Roosevelt Cook 15:15     Jake Stout 15:33     James Horman 15:36


M40 Arriola and Racz went 1-2. 

Randy Arriola, fourth overall, claims the win in Men's 45-49 with a nifty 15:47!

Jose Delgado Tucson AZ closed strong, passing Michael DeForest Missoula MT in the last mile to claim third with six seconds to spare. He closed to within two seconds of Racz!

Randy Arriola 15:47     Glenn Racz 15:53     Jose Delgado 15:55

F40 Rebecca Paten Santa Cruz CA led from wire to wire, hitting the 1 Mile in 5:56 with a fourteen second lead. Paten went on to win the group in 18:44, with 25 seconds to spare. 

Rebecca Paten wins the Women's 40-44 Division in 18:44!

Amanda Lankford Simi Valley CA moved past Joy Shen Lakewood CA  in the middle mile, pulling away to take second place, 88 meters ahead of Shen. 

Rebecca Paten 18:44     Amanda Lankford 19:09     Joy Shen 19:31

M45 Jeremy Deere Canada was fastest off the mark, setting a 5:02 pace for the first mile. Neville Davey Palo Alto CA was right on his heels at 5:04. Tim Hebert Ft. Collins CO followed, fifteen meters astern, with Dan Lesser San Diego CA another ten meters back. 

Neville Davey leading Dan Lesser and Tim Hebert as they approach the turn-around at the halfway point

Dan Lesser striding ahead of Tim Hebert, heading for the win in 16:18

Davey fell off the pace in the second mile but Lesser pulled even with Hebert as they both still trailed Deer by a good 25 meters. Hebert and lesser gradually closed over the final mile. Lesser had the best kick, taking the win in 16:18, with Hebert nipping Deere at the finish line! Davey finished fourth.

Dan Lesser 16:18     Tim Hebert 16:22     Jeremy Deere 16:22

F45 Maggie Shearer Newbury Park who was in the mix for the overall win, led this division wire to wire. Shearer won with 50 meters to spare. 

Maggie Shearer clipping along towards an 18:32, good for the win in Women's 45-49

Lorna Vargas Fonseca Costa Rica and Angela Moll San Diego CA matched paces for the first mile, passing the clock at 5:55. Fonseca moved ahead of Moll over the next mile, enjoying a 20-meter lead as they headed into the final mile. Fonseca finished second, building a hundred meters additional lead. Moll enjoyed third place; Christy Peterson Rolling Hills Estates CA finished strong to claim fourth place in 19:41.

M50 Todd Rose San Francisco CA, a mainstay of the powerful West Valley Track Club was coming off a top 20 overall finish in the Masters 40+ race at the USATF Club Cross Country (national) Championships in Tallahassee FL. Rose pulled the M45 group through the first mile at 5:01; he had a lead of over 45 meters on his own M50 field. John Gardiner Rancho Santa Margarita CA, is a longtime mainstay of one of the archrivals of West Valley, the Cal Coast Track Club. He knows what Rose is capable of. Too savvy to get drawn into that fast a pace, Gardiner adopted a more measured 5:10 pace for the first mile, leaving him with a twenty-five-meter lead on Marcelo Mejia Perez Goleta CA, and a forty-five-meter lead on Todd Booth Santa Barbara CA. That first mile set the tone for the rest of the race; the order did not change, just the size of the gaps between the athletes. Rose enjoyed the victory with a fine 16:13. 

Todd Rose sprints across the finish line, taking the Men's 50-54 Win in 16:13!

Gardiner finished a hundred meters back in second place, with a 150-meter lead over Mejia Perez. Booth finished fourth at 17:32.

Todd Rose 16:13     John Gardiner 16:36     Marcel Mejia Perez 17:13

F50 Amy Halseth La Jolla CA, who finished fifth overall, led this division out in 6:11. Valerie Swafford San Diego CA gave Halseth plenty to worry about in the first mile; she was just one second behind at the 1 Mile timing mat. Hometown runner, Michellie Jones Carlsbad CA, was twenty-five meters behind the leading duo. Swafford continued to battle through the 180-degree turn and onto the end of the second mile. She was a mere two seconds back from Halseth. Jones was still within thirty meters of Swafford. But the final mile proved the difference. Once Halseth threw in a sustained surge to stay with thee lead pack in the third mile, Swafford was done. Halseth pulled away to win by over 200 meters in 18:44. 

Amy Halseth #1707 heads out from Carlsbad Village at the front of the Masters field on her way to a 5th place finish overall and first in the 50-54 Division

Swafford took second, forty meters ahead of Jones.

Amy Halseth 18:44     Valerie Swafford 19:45     Michellie Jones 19:55

M55 A sub-four-minute miler in his day and a regular at the prestige international track meets, Christian Cushing-Murray Orange CA is no stranger to the podium. The winner of this Masters race at Carlsbad just eight years ago in 15:11, Cushing-Murray, known to most of the track world as 'Cush', claimed the Road Mile American M55 Record in Indianapolis last year in 4:47! But Cush is also no stranger to having to come back from injury; this was one of those years. He was also going up against a Club Northwest buzzsaw, Emmet Hogan Issaquah WA. Injured or not, it is tough for anyone in his age group to take it out faster than Cush. He hit the mile marker with a slim three-second lead on Hogan. Once they made the 180-degree turn, it was all Hogan, who enjoyed a good fifty-meter lead on Cush by the time they hit the two-mile mark. 

Emmet Hogan on his way to the win in the Men's 55-59 Division at Carlsbad

Hogan brought home the win in 16:37, with Cush well over a hundred meters back in second. 

Christian Cushing-Murray bringing it home in Second Place in the Men's 55-59 Division

Thomas Tayeri Palo Alto CA ran an evenly paced 17:41 to claim third place.

Emmet Hogan 16:37     Christian Cushing-Murray 17:10     Thomas Tayeri 17:51

F55 Elizabeth Guerrini Long Beach CA dominated this division. Guerrini passed the 1 Mile marker in 6:04. Local rivals, Margi Bell Carlsbad CA and Lan Clayton Carlsbad CA, passed it in tandem at 6:18. Guerrini stretched her lead to well over a hundred meters by the time she crossed the finish line with the win in 19:27! 

Elizabeth Guerrini claims the Women's 55-59 Win with No Rivals in Sight at the Carlsbad 5000

Clayton had a slight edge on Bell at the two-mile mark. But Bell closed stronger to take second place in 19:59, a good thirty meters ahead of Clayton. Tina Gini Larter finished fourth in 20:45, with Tania Fischer in fifth, ten seconds back.

Elizabeth Guerrini 19:27     Margi Bell 19:59     Lan Clayton 20:07

M60 Kevin Ostenberg Newcastle CA, a strong cross country runner for the HOKA Aggies team of northern California made the trip to So Cal worthwhile. Ostenberg, the fourth place finisher at the Men's 60 and up race at the 2023 edition of Club Cross, laid down a 5:28 for the first mile! That left his division rivals over fifty meters back. Dick Robinson San Diego CA led the chase pack at 5:23. Bob Brisco Santa Monica CA was two strides back, with Run Minnesota's Patrick Billig Roseville MN on his shoulder. Ostenberg's lead had grown to a hundred meters by the two-mile mark. Ostenberg claimed the win with a half minute to spare in 17:25. 

Kevin Ostenberg wins Men's 60-64 at the 2024 Carlsbad 5000

Robinson continued to lead the rest, with Brisco and Billig within striking distance. Billig surged past Brisco in the final mile and closed on Robinson. Though they were given the same time, Robinson held Billig off at the finish line. Brisco finished fifth behind Alejandro Gacia Tucson AZ.

Kevin Ostenberg 17:25     Dick Robinson 18:03     Patrick Billig 18:03

F60 Kris Clark Salida CO, who trains at 7,000 feet, surprised many by taking first place in the Women's 60-64 division at the 2023 USATF 5 Km Championships. A month later, injury sidelined her plans to go after a second national championship over ten miles in Sacramento. The injury is a thing of the past and she showed it! Clark would eventually win big, but Linda Ostenberg Newcastle CA gave her something to think about! Ostenberg pulled the field through the mile in 6:17, with Clark right on her shoulder. Clark ran her second mile faster than the first; Ostenberg could not match that surge in pace, falling over a hundred meters back by the two-mile split. Despite losing contact with Clark, Ostenberg still had a big lead over Susan Evans Penticton, Canada. But Ostenberg had expended too much energy in that first mile. When Evans close and passed, Ostenberg had nothing in the tank. Evans finished second, over a minute behind Clark, but five seconds ahead of Ostenberg. 

Susan Evans on her way to a second place finish in Women's 60-64 Division

Clark had her big win and the highest Age Grade PLP on the day!

Kris Clark 19:27     Susan Evans 20:32     Linda Ostenberg 20:37

M65 Scott McEntee Encenitas CA took the field out hard, covering the first mile in 6:02; Michael Lebold San Diego CA was right on his heels! Mark Core Irvine CA was laying off the pace about fifty meters back. Lebold found the gap up to McEntee grow to twenty meters as they approached the 2-mile mat. Core was able to lessen his gap to Lebold by ten meters. McEntee had no trouble the rest of the way, taking the win in 19:39. 

Scott McEntee claims the win in Men's 65-69 at the 2024 Carlsbad 5000!

Core gradually closed on Lebold and surprised him at the finish line, edging him for second place by a single second!

Scott McEntee 19:39     Mark Core 19:56     Michael Lebold 19:57

F65 Leslie Cohen Santa Monica CA enjoyed a wire-to-wire win in this division. She led the field by over a hundred meters at the 1 Mile mat. Cohen. added to it the rest of the way, winning in 22:10 with a lead of over two hundred meters! 

Leslie Cohen closing in on the Finish Line and her win in the Women's 65-69 Division at the Carlsbad 5000

At the one-mile mark, Linda Powers San Diego CA enjoyed a four second lead over Carol Sexton Woodinville WA in the race for second place. Sexton reversed that advantage in the second mile and pulled away in the final stretches. Sexton finished second with over forty seconds to spare.

Leslie Cohen 22:10     Carol Sexton 23:38     Linda Powers 24:25

M70 Five years ago, in the last full season before Covid disrupted road racing, Joe Reda DeForest WI battled Reno Stirrat for M65 national championships on the roads. Successful more often than not, Reda captured the USATF Masters National Grand Prix that year, with Stirrat second. He was going up against Wayne Chick Austin TX. Reda covered the first mile in 6:27; Chick was fifteen meters back. They stayed in that position down out of the village and around the 180-degree turn. The gap was unchanged when they crossed the two-mile mat. Reda's better fitness kicked in at that point; he added another eleven seconds to his lead in that last 1.1 miles. Reda's 20:23 brought him the win! 

Joe Reda #2441 finishes off his 20:23 winning effort in the Men's 70-74 Division at the 2024 Carlsbad 5000

Chick was almost fifty meters back in second but well ahead of Rick Pfeiffer Carlsbad CA. Pfeiffer is, arguably, more at home on the turf than the roads. He finished second and third in M70 at the highly competitive Club Cross Country races in 2021 at Tallahassee and in 2022 in San Francisco.

Joe Reda 20:23     Wayne Chick 20:38     Rick Pfeiffer 21:20

F70 It was no contest in this division. Ernestina Martin Chula Vista CA clocked 7:14 for the first mile and enjoyed the better part of a minute lead on the field. Martin went on to win in 23:41 with well over two minutes to spare. 

Ernestina Martin crosses the Finish Line in 23:41 to take the win int he Women's 70-74 Division at the 2024 Carlsbad 5000

Kathi Guiney Mission Viejo CA could not keep pace with Martin but kept Sandy Robbins-Sydner Apple Valley CA at bay. After leading Robbins-Sydner by almost a hundred meters with a mile to go, Guiney's lead was almost halved at the finish.

Ernestina Martin 23:41     Kathi Guiney 26:27     Sandy Robbins-Sydner 26:39

M75 Ron Wells Alpine CA sped off at the start, weaving between younger runners who were not up to his pace. Wells covered that first mile in 7:02, enjoying a lead of over eighty meters on the field. Wells, the 2021 M75 champion at the national Club Cross Country championships in Tallahassee FL, added to his lead throughout the race. Glenn Alder San Clemente CA crossed the 1-mile timing mat in 7:26, with John Combs Loomis CA thirty meters back. Alder stretched his lead to seventy-five meters by the two-mile mark. Combs cut into that lead substantially in the final stretch but could not catch Alder. Combs made sure that Peter Kerklaan Delta Canada finished a good thirty meters behind him. 

Ron Wells heads for the Finish Line where his 22:50 will enable him to win the Men's 75-79 Crown with plenty to spare

Wells enjoyed a dominant win with well over a minute to spare.

Ron Wells 22:50     Glenn Alder 24:18     John Combs 24:32

F75 Jan Kerklaan Delta Canada led the field out with a 10:49. Grace Hanover Lake Elsinore CA was just fifteen meters back in second place. Kerklaan maintained her pace through the second mile; that was enough to grow her lead to over seventy meters. Kerklaan won the division at 34:23 with over a minute to spare. 

Jan Kerklaan #1912 closes in on the Finish Line and her 34:23 winning time in Women's 75-79 at the 2024 Carlsbad 5000

Hanover placed second, a good half minute ahead of Emily Smith Collierville TN.

Jan Kerklaan 34:23     Grace Hanover 35:26     Emily Smith 36:02

M80 James Callaway Coronado CA, M80 winner at Club Cross in San Francisco, led the field out in 8:03. He enjoyed a twenty-five meter lead over John Phillips Seattle WA. Callaway grew that lead to over sixty meters by the two-mile mat and cruised home in 25:33, with twenty-seven seconds to spare. 

Jim Callaway #1253-right finishes off his winning 25:33 effort in winning the Men's 80-84 Division Bill Sumner #2708-left finished 6th in M75

Phillips was well clear of the third-place finisher, Jim Metts San Diego CA.

Jim Callaway 25:33     John Phillips 26:05     Jim Metts 30:25

F80 Kathryn Carpenter Ramona CA was the fittest runner in this division, covering the first mile in 11:07. At that point she was already well over a minute ahead of the second-place runner, Sherry Braheny La Mesa CA. Carpenter kept Braheny eighty seconds back the rest of the way, earning the win with a 36:23 effort. 

Kathryn Carpenter #1283 closes in on the Finish Line; her 36:23 enabled her to win the Women's 80-84 Division at the Carlsbad 5000 

Braheny enjoyed her second-place finish, a good three minutes ahead of Nancy Linck La Jolla CA.

Kathryn Carpenter 36:23     Sherry Braheny 37:46     Nancy Linck 41:26

Linck, at 82, was the oldest to ascend the Women's podium this day, with Carpenter the oldest winner at 81.

M85 Michel Ribet La Jolla CA took the field out in 11:22, with a 90-meter lead on Richard Williams Coronado CA, in second. Ribet stretched the lead over the final 2.1 miles, winning by an even minute over Williams. 

Michel Ribet cap crosses the finish line in 36:22 (chip time) to claim the Men's 85-89 Win at the 2024 Carlsbad 5000

Tracy Hightower Halton City TX was well back in third place.

Michel Ribet 36:22     Richard Williams 37:22     Tracy Hightower 49:10

Williams was the oldest podium finisher on the day at 88, Ribet the oldest winner at 86! 

It was another beautiful day for a race in Carlsbad. The organizers did a terrific job and so did the athletes. There were some close races, lots of PR's and plenty of things, in addition to the Masters contests to celebrate!

Men's Elite: 

Women's Elite

Celebrities: Kip & Meb     

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