Sept. 17, 2002
U.S. men's 10,000m record holder and UCLA distance great Meb Keflezighi won his fifth national title this year on Sunday (Sept. 15) at the 2002 USA 5K Championship. The race was held in conjunction with the 13th CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5K in Providence, RI.
Keflezighi, who won four NCAA distance championships during his UCLA career (1995-98), won the USA 5K crown and finished third overall in the race, with a time of 13:45. Kenyans James Koskei and Shadrack Kosgei were both clocked at 13:40, with Koskei just out-leaning his countryman for the win.
Meb's 5K victory added to his 2002 collection of national titles that include 12K cross country, 15K roads, 10,000m track and seven-mile roads.
"Five national titles in one year is a big honor to me," said Keflezighi, who is off to Madrid to run the 5000m at the World Cup later this week (he will be joined by fellow Bruin great Gail Devers who will compete in the women's 100m hurdles). "I'm fortunate to have coaches like Bob Larsen and Joe Vigil at the Team USA California training camp. God gave me a talent and I'm thankful." Larsen was also Keflezighi's college coach during his Bruin career (Larsen served as UCLA's men's head track & field coach for 15 years, retiring after the 1999 season).
With his win on Sunday, Keflezighi vaulted to the lead of the 2002 USA Running Circuit (USARC) men's standings. Meb leads with 45 points, followed by Dan Browne (2nd, 39 points), Kyle Baker (3rd, 35 points), Jim Jurcevich (4th, 32 points) and Abdi Abdirahman (5th, 31 points).
There are two Men's USARC races remaining (Twin Cities Marathon, Sept. 29; Food World Senior Bowl 10K, Nov. 2). USARC points at the Twin Cities Marathon will be doubled. The 2002 USARC, the eighth edition for the men and seventh for the women, offers over $340,000 in championship prize money plus a $25,000 grand prix purse.