That means three for three in Dutch, and I am elated to report that, this morning, I achieved my goal of running the 5000m half as fast, or in twice the time, as the current world record held by Kenenisa Bekele of 12:37.35.
In fact, I ran it faster than half as fast, as I closed with a time of 24:14.97, nearly a full minute faster than I needed to be.
Maybe I set my sights too slow. This is the third race in The Running Decathlon and I have completed all three, the Mile, the 1500, and now the 5000m, in times that shattered my original goals. I guess I am just teeing it all up to do once again when I am 70 instead of 60.
Again, it was an amazing experience. Hengelo was a town I had never heard of before this endeavor and now it will forever be a part of me. “We are not known for our monuments or historical markers,” said Monique Otto from Bureau Hengelo, the promotional arm of this charming tech/industry city in the southeast corner of the Netherlands. But they have wonderful neighborhoods, a Michelin starred restaurant and a young vibrant student population that make it a pleasing visit off the beaten tourist path.
And they also have the Fanny Blankers-Koen Stadion, a charming track and field-only facility that annually hosts the stars of the sport in an IAAF Meet that has seen some of the greatest performances by African distance runners in history.
In 2004, Bekele, an Ethiopian, came here with a world record in mind and he ran so swiftly and so smoothly that his time has not been challenged since. The video of the run is spectacular (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSSBtxvd5BI) and it shows the 22-year-old at the peak of his abilities. He is still the world record holder in the 5000m and the 10000m, perhaps the most competitively run races in the world.
Think of that. With all of the 10Ks and 5Ks contested each week, each year, every single runner is behind Bekele. And, going into next week’s Olympics, the fastest 5K this year was run by Mo Farah of Great Britain, whose 12:59.29 is a more than :21 behind the time Bekele ran here in Hengelo.
But enough about the greats. Back to me. I was very nervous going into this race this morning. Unlike the heat that was oppressive in Rome, the skies were overcast and the temperature was right around the 60-degree mark.
I had a pacer, Lars Pluym, a decathlete who competes in the FBK Stadion, who showed up unannounced to help. There was a team of locals, many of whom were here at the Stadium the day Bekele broke the record twelve years ago, including Bennie Oude Engerink (starter), Marion Witvoet (timer), Geert Linde (equipment), Bennie Horstman (equipment), Aiko Staudt (manger), and Roelof de Vries, the coordinator of MPM Athletics Union, all of whom are now official members of the Bridging Bionics Foundation support team.
I also had the spirit of Tim Burr, who has not only been an inspiration for this entire undertaking, but who also contributed a post yesterday that put things in perspective as I dealt with a silly missed train connection.
I thank all. Hartelijk Bedankt. Now it is on to Berlin and the Sprints.