Rio Olympic 5,000m silver medalist Paul Chelimo is chasing the American indoor 5,000m record this Thursday at the Firefly Recovery 5,000m in Virginia. The track meet is being staged by the American Distance Project with strict COVID-19 mitigation protocols, which means there will be no spectators, coaches or competitors outside the American Distance Project’s training group bubble. The race is being held with the goal of chasing the Olympic and U.S. Olympic Trials qualifying time, as well as Galen Rupp’s seven-year-old indoor record of 13:01.26.
According to a press release on LetsRun.com, the meet will consist of just a 5,000m and a 10,000m race for both men and women, and will be held on Virginia’s new 200-metre hydraulically banked indoor track. Athletes will also be using the Light Speed Pacing System, which is a wireless LED pacing that assists runners with setting target paces. Other athletes in the impressive field include Leonard Korir (13:15.45), and NCAA Champions Lawi Lalang (13:00.95 outdoor) and Anthony Rotich (13:31.95), among others.
Chelimo is currently ranked sixth in the world in the men’s outdoor 5,000m and owns a PB of 12:57.55, which he set in 2018. Should he achieve his goal of breaking Rupp’s indoor 5,000m American record, that will put him in the top 10 in the world at the indoor event, along with world record-holder Kenenisa Bekele (who ran 12:49.60 in 2004), Haile Gebrselassie (12:50.38 from 1999) and four other men who have run under 13 minutes in the indoor 5,000m.
In order to run under 13 minutes, Chelimo’s pace will have to be less than 2:36 per kilometre, or 31 seconds per lap of the indoor track. With that in mind, the American record is certainly a lofty goal, but Chelimo must be in good shape if he’s planning on going after it. In a short season that has been packed with incredible performances, this would be yet another record to add to the books, and the eyes of the track world will certainly be watching on Thursday to see if Chelimo gets the job done.