- On September 10, Bowerman Track Club’s Woody Kincaid clocked 12:58.10 for 5,000 meters at a special event held in Portland, Oregon.
- Kincaid’s performance makes him the fifth-fastest American man to run the 5,000 meters; he is also only the eighth American man to break 13:00 in the distance.
- Reigning national champion Lopez Lomong finished second in 13:00.13, while Matthew Centrowitz finished third 13:00.39.
In most elite men’s 5,000-meter races, the top three runners finish between 13:00 and 13:30, but they rarely run faster than 13:00. In fact, before this week, only seven American men in history had broken the 13-minute barrier in the 5,000 meters.
Now, an eighth name has joined that list: Bowerman Track Club’s Woody Kincaid clocked a time of 12:58.10 in Portland, Oregon.
Around sunset at the Nike Michael Johnson track on September 10, Bowerman runners Kincaid, Lopez Lomong, and Matthew Centrowitz lined up for a special 5,000-meter event dubbed the Portland 5000 that was basically a time trial between the teammates. The group’s aim was to run below the 2020 Olympic standard time for 5,000 meters, 13:13.
“The goal was to run 13:09,” Kincaid told Runner’s World after the event. “I thought that was being ambitious.”
A few hundred spectators, including Kincaid’s family and friends, stood on the track to cheer as the gun went off. Paced by BTC’s Mohammed “Mo” Ahmed, the men started off fast, coming through the first 400 meters in around 60 seconds, then continued clipping off laps well under the Olympic standard pace of 4:14 per mile.
In the final 200 meters, Kincaid surged ahead of his teammates and finished in a 14 second-personal best time. Lomong finished second in seven-second PR of 13:00.13, while Centrowitz shaved 20 seconds off his PR to finish third in 13:00.39. All three runners achieved the Olympic standard with room to spare.
“I definitely didn’t expect to run 12:58,” said Kincaid, who set his previous best time, 13:12, at an indoor meet in 2017. “But Mo killed it. Once he kept taking us through 62-second 400s, we knew we were going to run fast.”
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Lomong and Centrowitz are headed to the World Championships in Doha starting September 29 in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters (Lomong) and 1500 meters (Centrowitz), so the race for them was simply a chance to score the Olympic standard and get in some speedwork.
But for Kincaid, it was something more: a chance to prove to his coaches and himself that he was able to run at a world-class level, even after a challenging year of recovering from groin surgery.
“A year ago today, I was sitting in my mom’s basement on painkillers,” Kincaid said. “It felt awkward running for a long time. I couldn’t take much time off, though, because this was the last year of my contract. I knew somehow that when the time came to really race, I’d be in shape.”
The teammates’ times from Tuesday are especially stunning, given the low-stakes setting they ran them in. They managed to run faster than the 2016 Rio Olympics final, where Mo Farah of Great Britain won the race in 13:03.30, American Paul Chelimo took silver in 13:03.90, and Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia took bronze in 13:04.35. They also crushed the results from the 2019 USATF Outdoor Nationals meet this summer, where Lomong broke the tape in 13:25.53, Chelimo finished runner-up in 13:25.80, and Kincaid took third in 13:26.84.
Unfortunately, since Kincaid didn’t score the World Championship standard time for the 5,000 meters (13:22.50) at Outdoor Nationals, he wasn’t able to join the U.S. team heading to Doha.
“After USAs, I went right back into training really hard,” Kincaid said. “Instead of doing a race in Europe, Jerry [Schumacher] had us do a crazy fast workout about 10 days after USAs. After that, I knew I was in shape to run 13:00.”
When asked whether Kincaid was happy to have beaten his teammates—particularly 5,000-meter specialist Lomong—the runner laughed.
“Sure I wanted to beat them. We were joking about who was going to win the week before,” he said. “Once we knew were going to get the standard, we could really race. But they set it up for me to win. This race means everything to me, and nothing to them.”
Digital Editor Hailey first got hooked on running news as an intern with Running Times, and now she reports on elite runners and cyclists, feel-good stories, and training pieces for Runner’s World and Bicycling magazines.