Carlsbad 5000, By Larry Meredith

For the fifth straight year a small contingent of Empire Runners made the pilgrimage to the Mecca of 5Ks in Carlsbad, California held on March 29. The event calls itself the “World’s Fastest 5K,” not because it is run on a downhill course, nor because it is pushed by tailwinds, nor because the surface is engineered for speed. On the contrary, the course presents a few gradual rises, runs back and forth along what can be a breezy coastline and offers standard road pavement underfoot. No, Carlsbad is internationally known as the “World’s Fastest 5K” because 16 world records, 8 U.S. records, along with numerous national and age-group records have been set on the scenic oceanfront course.


On the current list of 5K world records by age (, Carlsbad is the listed as the record-setting site 39 times. And now you will see that the most recent addition to the list is a 7-year-old Empire Runner by the name of Daniel Skandera who sped around the course in an amazing 19 minutes and 25 seconds. Competing in the 12-and-under age group against 77 others, Daniel placed 6th.

You might want to check out Daniel’s accomplishments at other distances ( He is listed as the world record holder at age 5, 6 and 7 for the mile; at age 6 for the 600-meter run, 1000 meters and 1500 meters run; at ages 6 and 7 for the 2000 meters, 2 miles and 3000 meters. O.K., so Daniel’s not listed in the steeplechase (an event his Grandpa Harry excelled at) but that’s only because he can’t reach the top of the barriers.


But enough about the young prodigy among our band of long-distance travelers for a short-distance race. Our elder statesman Brad Zanetti was testing out his 60-year-old wheels and fared quite well, placing 12th in a field of 120 in his division.   In a race of over 2000 masters runners special awards go to the top 250 finishers and Brad claimed 204th, just 3 places ahead of fellow ER and long-time Carlsbad devotee Bryan Porter. Carlsbad rookie John Harmon earned a medal as well, taking 235th and placing 26th out of 188 in his 55-59 group. Larry Meredith placed 312th.


Carlsbad’s final races are truly elite affairs and this year’s field of competitors did not disappoint the thousands of spectators lining the streets of this fashionable little burg. In the women’s race Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia turned in the 2nd-fastest road 5K ever run, a 14:48, to win going away. Lawi Lalang held off fellow Kenyon Wilson Too by just 3 seconds, finishing in 13:32. Third place went to America’s most decorated distance runner, Bernard Legat who, at 40, set a world road record for masters at 13:41.

If the time and expense of traveling so far for a 5K puts you off, don’t forget that the coastal corridor down south is home to some world-class breweries and Brad Zanetti is a willing and more-than-able tour guide for this type of extra-curricular pastime. There are swimming pools, hot tubs and beaches, local cuisine and family activities nearby. And with our cheerful designated driver Bev Zanetti negotiating highways and byways, a long weekend with a short race turns into a mini-vacation. Mark your calendar for the weekend of April 2-3 and join in on the fast fun next year.


9 thoughts on “Carlsbad 5000, By Larry Meredith”

  1. Good to see sane runners who can appreciate a cold beer after a hard race…I did Carlsbad in ’93 and 2010, just two of the 510 races I’ve done since ’77…and I’m proud to say I never got beat by a 7-year-old…yet?


    1. Hi Jim, thanks for the comment! I’ll mention it to Larry next time I see him at the Thursday night run. FYI I broke your seniors mile track record this year for the club…. it took 19 years though! (this is Doug Murdoch – I manage the blog). It would be great to meet you sometime if you come down to Santa Rosa. Cheers, Doug


      1. Hey Doug, but what was your time? On the road or on the track (indoor or out)?
        My indoor record is 4:50 in the ’96 Harvard Mile at age 51.
        My outdoor was slower…4:55.8 at Empire Track #2 in ’96 at age 52.
        My road mile was the 4:54 Fleet Feet Mile in ’96, also 52.
        I guess I didn’t get injured in ’96…


      2. HI Jim, my best outdoor was 4:45.9 for the mile at the ERC track meet – I had done 5:51 the previous year as a 51 year old so I knew it was possible. My goal for this year again is to try and break 4:40 (gotta have big goals!). My best 1500 was at the USATF masters nationals, 2nd place, 4:23.12. I have never run indoor before… real opportunities unless I fly somewhere. I did run the Marin Miracle Mile and won it in 4:52, and managed to get a mega giant blister. Funny, they sent me a check for fifty bucks for winning, so I told them to donate the money to the kids fund, and I kept the check as a souvenir, figuring it will be the only time I ever get paid to be a runner!


      3. My son Eli suggested I get a Skype account so I can see the grand kids. when I talk to them…but then they all see me and my aging face…not a pretty sight…but I could wear a 50-year-old mask?


      4. If you have a Skype account, we could surprise everyone at one of the monthly ERC meetings…….we meet at Straw Hat now and they let us use one of the big screen TV’s to connect my laptop. Larry would be surprised.


  2. Ask Larry about that mile we did back in ’93 down at a Tamalpa Runners track meet at College of Marin. He caught me on the last lap (or I caught him) to run his best time, I think, and I ran 4:48. I was 49 years old.


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