What was the USATF Outdoor highlight of the meet? Easy, Paul Chelimo! Total dominance. Nobody expected this, except Chelimo!


As I was posting this story on Monday night, I recieved a text from Jeff Benjamin. Jeff wanted me to change Paul Chelimo's run to the best performance of the entire meet! "After rewatching the coverae, I believe Paul Chelimo had the best performance of the entire meet!

Chelimo_PaulH-USAout17.jpgPaul Chelimo runs a fearless 5000 meters in hot weather, photo by PhotoRun.net

What was the meet's highlight?
Paul Chelimo.
TOTAL Dominance.
And NOBODY expected this.
Except Chelimo.

For the NBC Sports Crew of Lewis Johnson, Rick Allen, Ato Bolton, Sonya Richards-Ross & Craig Masback, expertise has always been their standard trademark. As the men's 5000 was ready to go, the duo of Allen and Masback, along with spectators both in the hot Sacramento stadium and watching in TV, definitely expected a slow tactical race. As Masback said, "It's not about time it's about being in the first 3" to qualify for the London World Championships.

Chelimo had other plans. As the US Army athlete immediately took the lead and cranked out a 60- second 400 leaving his pursuers far behind, Masback had to admit that he was incredulously amazed just like the rest of us. "Well I've been wrong all night on almost every topic," admitted the 3:52 miler. "So why shouldn't I be wrong on this topic?!"

And as Ben True led a pack in pursuit in a distant second, Masback told viewers that True, an excellent runner himself, had his view on championship racing. "It's funny," said Masback. "He (True) said I'm sick and tired of sitting back in championship races where everyone sits and kicks in the end and you'd think he'd be up there with Chelimo!"

Allen then asked Masback about his experiences in competition. "When you used to run distances did you use to look up at the big screen to see how far you were ahead?", asked Allen to Masback.

"First of all, I was never that far ahead," said Masback jokingly. "But there were a few races where they did have a big screen and what I'd do in the 1500 meters is if I took the lead in the latter stages I'd adjust my speed to stay ahead of the others so you can definitely use the big screen to keep track of things"

After a brief recap of the Women's High Jump (which was won by phenom Vashti Cunningham in a new best of 6' 6 1/4") the race returned to a flabbergasted Allen with Chelimo still dominating with 7 laps to go. "Did you ever think you'd see this?", said Allen to Masback.
"No," said Masback. " He's (Chelimo) shown he can win a tactical race like in Rio getting a silver behind Mo Farrah "one of the greatest kickers of all time...He doesn't need to do this."

Masback rotten began reciting Chelimo's splits of 4:10 thru 4 laps and
5:13 for the 2K. " He's running 63 seconds per lap!"

The dreaded commercial break was the only thing that disturbed the rhythm of the race, though not for the competitors. Coming back with 4 laps to go, Chelimo still maintained a 70 meter lead and was on 13:10 pace. "I bow down to this guy!", said Masback as the crowd began to get loud. "This is a tremendous effort!" Allen then noted that the oppressive temperatures had dropped 15 degrees, although it was still 90 degrees on the track.

The Pack

Masback then gave kudos to the chase pack of 4. "They're actually running quite well for a championship race if you think about it...If he (Chelimo) runs 13:10 they're going to run 13:18 to 13:20"

"All are excellent Finishers," said Masback of True, Jenkins, Lopez Lomong and Ryan Hill. "They're running a good race as well"

Then Masback paid homage to the leader. "No one picked Chelimo to make the Olympic team and he squeezed on by 6 1/100th of a second and goes on to win a silver medal."

With 2 laps to go Masback noted that "He (Chelimo) keeps checking to look back just to see where they are", and then reviewed the speeds and records of True (Road 5K) Jenkins (Undefeated all year albeit in 1-Mile and 1500 races) Lomong (3:51 Mile speed) and Hill (3000 Indoor World Sillver) which makes up "A fascinating race for second"

But as the Bell was rung for the final Lap 12:09 only Chelimo was close enough to pass it, as Allen said, " He's gotta pick it up for the meet Record of 13:12"

As Chelimo waived to the crowd along the backstretch, Masback exclaimed,"He's doing his victory Lap in the last lap!"

As Chelimo rounded the final turn, the commentators mentioned how Jenkins with 250 yards to go started to kick, but it was Chelimo from start to finish, as his 13:08.62 breaks the meet record.
Following behind to take the final spots were Jenkins and Hill.

Masback then stated that "Chelimo just ran over 2 minutes for the last half", along with a sub sixty second last 400. Allen then spoke how Chelimo did his Army salute to the crowd.

"This is a statement from Paul Chelimo," said Masback, "that just as he was a silver medalist last year he's going to be a contender at the World Championships in London!"

That was one recollection that everyone can agree upon!!

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