Brad (Zanetti) and Bobby (Rogers) were just a few feet ahead of me as I took my first steps. Instantly I knew that something was very wrong. My legs which had just served me so well down the Carlsbad 5000 course did not seem to be working right. I felt almost like I had just finished a marathon instead of a 5K. I knew I should stop but like so many other times in my life, I just couldn’t do it. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of our hotel, a nice breakfast, the pool, hot-tub and a micro-brewed IPA.
This was my fourth trip down to Carlsbad to run in the “World’s Fastest 5K” – so-called not due to the course but for the fact that after the several heats of age-division races, the elites put on an exhibition of speed. They used to run on the same course as everyone else, but lately they do a couple of laps along the coast highway so everyone can get a good and really close look at them.
I was very excited to be here this time around, my training having gone very well leading up to the race. I ran 23:01 – over twenty-seconds faster than my previous best in 2013.
This year our racing contingent consisted of Brad Zanetti, Larry Meredith, Bryan Porter and myself. We were supported by Bev Zanetti, Bob Rogers and my sister Sandra.
Bryan Porter has been running the race annually for years now and Brad has done it now I believe seven years running. This was Larry’s fourth Carlsbad 5000 in as many years. There is a reason why we all keep coming back – it is FUN.
Here is Larry’s take on the race, Carlsbad and the overall experience:
“This was my fourth Carlsbad 5000 (in four years) and my slowest, by far.Editors Note: [Larry had a terrible cough] I ran well in only one appearance, 2 years ago, but have not regretted making any of these trips. Except for my performance in the race, this year was particularly enjoyable for many reasons. The flight schedule to and from Santa Rosa (what a luxury to fly straight to San Diego from here!) was perfect for a long weekend vacation. We arrived in San Diego just after noon on a Friday and did not have to return until late Monday evening. That gave us a day-and-a-half of leisure both before and after the event. With a seasoned brewery guide Brad and reliable designated driver Bev carrying out their essential duties, the whole weekend seemed like an organized tour. Dale and I were along for the ride.
The hotel that we keep coming back to is just a half-mile from the beautiful Carlsbad beach, which stretches for more than two miles until it reaches the scenic little coastal town that hosts the races. The temperature always seems perfect for a 5K, particularly for the masters men’s race that begins at 7 a.m. on Sunday. While one year there was a stiff breeze to battle against on part of the course, this year was calm. With the jacked up crowd in the race and along the course, it’s a great place to find out how fast you can run a 5K. We made the mistake of arriving late to the post-race beer garden after a quick shower and breakfast back at our hotel. The garden was packed and chaotic, with a line snaking through it to the dispensing stations. It took 45 minutes but we collected our 2 pints of locally-brewed IPA and sauntered over to hear a very good live band play all of my favorite rock tunes from the ‘80s. As always, that combination ends with Bryan and me groovin’ to the beat. I’m tellin’ ya, we need some more ladies on this trip! We then had to chug our brews so we could get back out on the course to watch some of the fastest 5K runners in the world, men and women, in their separate elite races. For the second straight year, Bernard Legat set a masters world record for a road 5K.
Checking off local breweries is always on the agenda for Friday, Sunday and Monday. Yes, we temper our thirst on Saturday in preparation for the race. Since we had all of Monday on this trip we visited Balboa Park in San Diego, touring the natural history museum there. A few minutes later we were downtown, eating great burgers at Hodad’s, a place that takes you back in time. And then we walked through the historic Gaslamp Quarter. We nearly bought tickets to the opening day game of the baseball season but just couldn’t bring ourselves to cough up $80 each to watch the Dodgers destroy the hometown Padres. So we went to another nearby brewery. And a deserted Ghirardelli ice cream shop for desert. As luck would have it, we were able to watch the NCAA men’s basketball national championship game at the airport. The last-second game winning shot was made just in time for us to catch our flight. What a weekend!
To those of you who think it’s not worth a weekend trip to run a 5K I say give this one a chance. You can always take on the “All-Day 5K” which involves running each of the four 5K races held that morning.”
Carlsbad – The proto-typical “beach town” – Carlsbad is both quirky and upscale depending on your mood or pocket-book. It is located 35 miles north of San Diego International Airport – straight up Interstate 5.
Carlsbad 5000 – the race is held the first Sunday in April in the town of Carlsbad. Four Heats of the 5K or run the “All Day 20K” and do them all! Youth 1 Mile races (and now adult too) are run on the previous Saturday.
Beer Garden – crowded but fun with live music for all adult entrants.
Elite Races – there is both an elite men’s and women’s race immediately following the last heat of the morning.
Flights – The best way to go is on Alaska Airlines out of Sonoma Co. to San Diego.
Airfare runs typically between approx. $110 and $250 one way depending on when you book your flight.
Car Rental – Rent a car from any of the many providers in San Diego and make the short drive up the coast to Carlsbad.
– We always stay in the West Inn about 3 miles south of downtown Carlsbad but within easy walking distance of the beach. I give the hotel Five out of Five stars. It is clean, well-appointed has a great breakfast, two restaurants a very nice pool and spa. Rooms are approx. $165 – $185 per night and well worth it. http://westinnandsuites.com
Eating – There are literally hundreds if not thousands of great places to eat in Carlsbad and the greater San Diego area. One of our favorites and a post-race ritual is The Compass in the Carlsbad Village shopping center near downtown Carlsbad. Great dishes ranging from high-end burgers to Cuban sandwiches, fish tacos and Macaroni and Cheese. Fantastic beer selection as well.
Breweries – Again, there are hundreds to choose from. From the huge Stone Brewery in Escondido to tiny Belching Beaver in Vista. Coronado Brewing Company on Coronado Island and Ballast Point Brewing in San Diego (home of Sculpin IPA) are some favorites.