Through to the Final of the World Champs

Early this morning I had my qualifying heat for the World Championship 5000 meters. I got the startlist the day before, and my heat was extremely tough….I had two of the three Kenyans, two of the three Ethiopians plus Ali Said Sief (12.50 last…

year), Mark Carroll (who beat me in Oslo), Said El Wardi (13.04) and Driss El Himer of France….so I knew my only shot was to get through on time. The top 5 got through automatic, plus the top five best times in the heats (two of them/15 total to Final).

The tactics was to go out at a steady pace, and lead the field. So I did, going out hard and running from the front. I got company with Mark Carroll after about three laps, and we alternated laps for a while (he told me when he came up to me “Bakken, lets go together”). That helped alot. I passed the 2000 meter on the 13.20 pace we had planned the night before, leading. But I could feel the altitude (668 meters/2000 feet), to my surprise. The other runners said the same after the race – it was really hard to breath even that “low”. Appearantly when Brendan Foster, GB was on his top, he came to this track in 1978 after running abour 27.30 at sea level and did 28.13 up here….came down again and did 27.30 in Prague…

The field caught up with me at around 2500 meters and at 3700 meters, the field with Sammy Kipketer passed me. So I just had to stay in there. I was ninth with one lap to go, and passed a Spanish runner at the line and El Wardi with 300 meter to go. The time of 13.32 was fast enough to go through – so all as planned. It was a HARD race, and extremely hard to stay in front and get the pace going. But I am glad I did it. It paid off and now I am in Fridays Final together with only 3 other non-Africans by birth. I think the altitude took a couple of the other Europeans down. Adam Goucher looked really strong in the second heat and will have a good shot in the Final. He has the advantage of living at altitude in Boulder.

I have four days to rest now. And I will need it – four or five times during the race I had to pull myself together to stay in there. But luckily something happened that challenged me all the times that came.

So all well from Edmonton ๐Ÿ™‚