The organizers of the Run Westfield 5k really knew what they were doing when they set this up and must have gotten exactly what they wanted. Set up a fast course, offer a lucrative prize structure and then watch the talented runners flock to you and lay down big PR’s.
Per the results posted on the web, there were just over 1,100 finishers, but a whopping twenty-one of those went under fifteen minutes!
Bob Rosen helped us fill in some of the gaps in coverage and provided ample notes to us from his vantage point on the lead vehicle. Bob is very close to Philemon Terer (5th) and Benard Langat (9th) and really knows his stuff.
About the course: it loses 90 ft from start to finish, but there’s actually a slight elevation gain of about 20 ft in the first mile. From that point on it’s basically flat with a slight downhill over the last mile.
As far as the race itself, it went out fast. Obviously. They went through the first mile in 4:18, but again that’s a slight uphill. Temps were mild with a slight tailwind (ideal conditions). Lead pack for the first mile: Simon Ndirangu (eventual winner) was right up front with Terer alongside, slightly behind. Alistair Cragg was a second behind (maybe), and then there was about a half dozen guys within two seconds of them.
Ndirangu asserted himself in the second mile and looked totally in control. Terer was with him, but they know each other from Kimbia. Knowing his opponent, and knowing that Terer isn’t a 5k guy must’ve given him more confidence. Cragg caught Terer just before mile two. Those two were back at it again only two weeks removed from their battle at the Holyoke St. Pat’s 10k, where Cragg took down Terer in the last mile. Ndirangu had 3 or 4 seconds on Cragg here. Two mile splits: Simon in the high 8:30’s, Cragg in 8:44ish, Terer in 8:46.
Over the last mile Ndirangu looked to be running away with it. Ndirangu kept kept his foot on the gas and put ten seconds on Cragg while Cragg opened up on Terer. Sang and Tefera overtook Terer in the last quarter mile, which is a huge loss for Terer. That drop in the results of only two spots cost him $1,500. Zach Hine had a huge PR and finished 6th, one spot out of the money.
I had scouted the course map a little before I arrived but during the warm up the potential for fast times really started to sink in. After cresting a small hill within the first quarter mile of the race, the course never went uphill again, instead dropping ever so gradually the first two miles and then more precipitously the last mile (although not so much as to cause a person to put on the brakes at any point). The one turn in the race comes in that same first quarter mile, and the wind (at least on this day) was fairly brisk and at our backs. Throw in perfect temps and a faster field than anything I’ve ever been a part of and… well, this happened:
Mile one: 4:33
Mile two: 4:34
Mile three: 4:43?, 29
That’s a PR of 44 seconds. In a 5k. It still doesn’t feel real.
That’s pretty crazy, but with a fast course and a tasty prize structure you’re bound to see things like that. Speaking of prizes, here’s how it broke down: $5k – 3k – 2k – 1k – 500 for both top five men and women. They also incredibly offered $500-400-300-200-100 to top five Westfield residents. When you see the WMDP boys celebrating in the video, you’ll know why. The three of them got a combine $1,200 for their troubles. That’s incredible.
For the ladies, Kim Smith ran what appears to be the third fastest road 5k ever for a woman. We saw that and embedded in a good discussion here on Letsrun. Kim had an almost unbelievable 44 second cushion between her and her training partner Amy Hastings.
Here’s a look inside the numbers compared to other high level 5k’s around here:
4 guys broke 15:00 at Kerouac (14:46 won). This was held in September and was the USATF-NE 5k Championship.
29 broke fifteen at CVS (8 broke 14, winner was 13:52). Also held in September, this was the National Championship.
Here in Westfield, the top six broke 14, 21 total broke 15. Winner came in at 13:16, and the top six under Ben True’s winning time in September. Although
It might not have the challenges of a loop course, but it’s not without it’s merits. Without a doubt there’s going to be debate about the legitimacy of the course, but hopefully the course certification can put that to rest. It appears to be a legit length, and although it’s downhill, it’s not like running a down a ski slope. If this doesn’t excite you because it’s a downhill spectacle, maybe you just need to embrace it in the same way people embrace things like a home run derby. If anything it’s just fun to watch. Try telling anyone their Boston Marathon PR isn’t legit and see what they have to say about it. This race could very well be the next big thing around here. There’s not a lot of money in running so it’s good to see another race step up and offer some substantial prize money
Great course, excellent prize money, deep field. Can’t wait for 2014.