(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
Moscow, August 13, 2013 -- All of the medal favorites advanced from the preliminary round of the men's 5000m this morning on the fourth day of the 14th IAAF World Championships in Athletics here at Luzhniki Stadium, despite transportation troubles for the three-man Ethiopian team and a minor tumble in the first heat.
In the first of two heats, 19-year-old Hagos Gebrhiwet, the reigning world junior cross country champion, got the win in 13:23.22 capped off by a 56.6 second final lap. The Ethiopian said he felt "very strong, very good," despite having to run the race without time for his usual warm-up. A meet official told Race Results Weekly that the Ethiopian's bus to the stadium arrived late (it was unclear if the bus driver got lost or if it was simply running behind schedule).
Gebrhiwet's teammate Yenew Alamirew, another medal favorite, finished second (13:23.48), followed by the man who won the world title in 2007, followed by silver medals in both 2009 and 2011, American Bernard Lagat. The veteran, who is twice the age of Gebrhiwet, ran cautiously in the front part of the pack through most of the race, then moved to lane-two with two laps to go to make sure he avoided trouble. Qualifying rounds still make Lagat nervous.
"When I'm in there I just feel like, hey man, I don't want to make any mistakes," said Lagat sporting a new, closely cropped beard. "I just want to keep going, I just want to make sure I execute the way my coach wanted and the way I wanted." He added: "I felt really good today."
The other two automatic qualifiers from the first heat were Kenya's Thomas Longosiwa, last summer's Olympic bronze medalist (13:23.94), and recent North Carolina State graduate Ryan Hill, who is competing in his first IAAF World Championships (13:24.19). Like Lagat, Hill moved wide in the final lap to avoid trouble, but was a little surprised at how fast the closing sprint was given that it was only the preliminary round.
"I knew I needed to be much closer (to the front) and, man, with about 120 to go I was thinking I just might pass all these guys," Hill told Race Results Weekly. "Like I'm feeling great, but I didn't know they hadn't actually reached their top gear yet."
Germany's Arne Gabius, who would have been expected to make the final, was eliminated after he had to sidestep a fallen athlete. He finished 12th.
"I looked down and a Kenyan was down in front of me," Gabius lamented. "I had to go around," he added, demonstrating the balletic move he had to make to stay on his feet.
The second heat belonged to defending champion Mo Farah, despite the fact that the double Olympic gold medalist only finished fifth. Working with his training mate Galen Rupp, Farah ran at the front and controlled the pace throughout the race, tailed closely by Kenyans Edwin Soi and Isiah Koech, and Ethiopia's Muktar Edris. Farah, who won the 10,000m title three days ago, did not join in the final sprint with the Africans, choosing to save his energy, instead.
"I just wanted to do as less work as possible, so freshen my legs out and get ready for the final," Farah told a group of reporters. "I just have to recover now and get ready for Friday."
Edris crossed first in 13:20.82, followed by Soi (13:21.44), Koech (13:22.19) and Rupp (13:23.91). Farah clocked 13:23.93 and said the race hadn't taken anything out of him.
"For me I just wanted to run comfortable. I didn't want to be able to sprint all-out and tire myself out for Friday. We were just getting comfortable, and just going through."
Lagat, who also said that he finished the race feeling fresh, explained that his new beard had a purpose.
"The beard is just to add a little wisdom," Lagat quipped. "I just want to look a bit wiser."