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The final morning of the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene saw the men’s 5,000 m final begin in 88-degree (F) heat, with a slow start and a fast finish.
Garrett Heath, the 2019 Pan Am Games fourth-placer, led the field at the start, but gave way to Rio silver medalist Paul Chelimo after four laps, with 10,000 m winner Woody Kincaid close behind.
Chelimo ran easily with laps of 64.2 and 64.4, then Kincaid took over with 7 laps to go, then let Emmanuel Bor go in front with six laps left (again 64.1). Chelimo then went back into the lead, with Hassan Mead close, then Bor, Kincaid and NCAA champion Cooper Teare of Oregon.
The pack stayed close as the pace did not increase; Chelimo led at 8:07.49 through 3,000 m. Then the pace relaxed further, back to 67.6 and 69.3, bunching the field with three laps to go.
BYU’s Conner Mantz took over as 11 men were together with two laps to go after a 64.2 lap that did little to sort things out. Running to the front at the bell, it was Chelimo and 10,000 m runner-up Grant Fisher and Teare leading, taking off after a 63.7 lap.
On the backstraight, Chelimo and Fisher dueled together with Kincaid, Teare and Bor close and around the turn, Bor was dropped and the all-out sprint was on. On the straight, Chelimo was out in lane three to force Fisher and Kincaid wider, with Teare broken only in the final 40 m.
Chelimo ran the last lap in 52.83 to finish in 13:26.82, ahead of Fisher (13:27.01) and Kincaid (13:27.13) with Teare at 13:28.08 and Bor in 13:30.03. The top five were the only ones with the Olympic standard in this event and the race confirmed their class.
Chelimo is outstanding in hot conditions, winning in scorching heat in Sacramento in 2017 in 13:08.62 and considering his tactical acumen, will be a contender again in Tokyo. “I didn’t taper too much for this race, you know?” said Chelimo afterwards. Of Tokyo, he said, “Be ready to put it all out there.” Can’t wait.
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