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Payton Men's 5K Preview: How Fast Can Edward Cheserek Run An All-Out 5K?

The 2017 Payton Jordan Invitational is live on FloTrack on Friday, May 5, beginning at 4:00 PM Pacific time, and we can't wait. We've already previewed the women's 800, women's 1500, women's 5kmen's 800, and men's 1500. Below, we break down the men's 5K.

Men's 5K

Worlds standard: 13:22.60
USAs standard: 13:32.00
Who: Edward Cheserek, Matt Centrowitz, Kyle Merber, Justyn Knight, Nate Brannen, Garrett Heath, Drew Hunter, Will Leer, Riley Masters, Luc Bruchet, Kemoy Campbell, Tommy Curtin, Sam McEntee, Morgan McDonald, Morgan Pearson, Erik Peterson, Jim Rosa, Mike Tate, Amon Terer, Daniel Winn
When: ​9:10 PM PT (Heat 1)
​UPDATE: ​Centrowitz is running, but in the second heat.
Why: ​This is the outdoor analogue to Cheserek's spectacular indoor mile, where he was rabbited to a 3:52.01 collegiate record. Andy Powell is giving Cheserek one record shot a season this year, and this is it for outdoor. Believe it or not, Cheserek's 5K PR is still from the NCAA final his freshman year, when he and Lawi Lalang both ran 13:18 in an epic battle to the finish line. Lalang's winning time is still the NCAA outdoor meet record:​

That was in an unpaced race, where the primary goal was to win, two days after running a hard 10K, and with just one year of collegiate training under his legs. First of all, rabbits are the most overrated thing on our sport. Second, what can Ches run in perfect conditions when the entire goal is to run fast? The obvious marks to watch for are Henry Rono's outdoor collegiate record of 13:08.4 (run in a dual meet in 1978) and Lawi Lalang's absolute collegiate record of 13:08.24 (run at Millrose in 2012). Additionally, Oregon distance coach Andy Powell has emphasized the importance of Oregon school records. The Ducks list the late Bill McChesney's 13:14.80 from 1982 as their school record.

The case for King Ches setting the CR

His mile (3:52.01) and 3K (7:40.51) PRs are worth almost exactly the same amount of points on the IAAF scoring tables. The mile is worth between 1175 and 1176; the 3K is worth between 1173 and 1174. The 5K times from 1173 to 1176 range are 13:09 and 13:10. That seems like a safe floor for the King. 

Here are two more data points, though always beware the transitive property in distance running:
-Three weeks after Cheserek pushed Lalang to the line at 2014 NCAAs, Lalang ran 13:03.
-Cheserek owned Eric Jenkins during Jenkins's senior year. Jenkins ran 13:07 that summer.

Less rigorously, it's just really hard to imagine that Cheserek hasn't improved more than ten seconds with triple the amount of collegiate training. If nine months of Powell's higher mileage and harder workouts got him from an 8:39 high school two miler (north of 13:20 5k ​pace​) to 13:18, 36 more months has to be worth ten seconds. He was probably ready to run 13:10 in 2014. Conservatively, he's ready to run 13:05 in 2017.

The case against

There are really only two points against, but they're both substantive. Cheserek has never chased a time in a race longer than two miles; he's an experienced racer, but he's not an experienced time trialer. And check out the top PRs in the field. No one has broken 13:10, and very few have broken 13:20. Campbell, Heath, and Masters all ran their outdoor PRs at Payton in 2015, though Campbell did run 13:14 this indoor season. The only other man in the field under 13:20, Brett Robinson, set his still-standing PR in 2013, though he did run 13:19 last year and 13:22 earlier this year. But the field could mean that this race is won in closer to 13:15 than 13:05.

Athlete PR Nation/college
Kemoy Campbell 13:14 JAM
Garrett Heath 13:16 USA
Riley Masters 13:17 USA
Brett Robinson 13:18 AUS
Edward Cheserek 13:18 KEN/USA/Oregon
Matthew Centrowitz 13:20 USA
Sam McEntee 13:20 AUS
Will Leer 13:21 USA
Florian Orth 13:23 GER
Luc Bruchet 13:24 CAN
Justyn Knight 13:26 CAN/Syracuse
Tommy Curtin 13:27 USA
Ross Proudfoot 13:27 CAN
Morgan McDonald 13:29 AUS/Wisconsin
Brian Shrader 13:29 USA
George-Byron Alex 13:29 USA

OK, we get it, FloTrack loves Ches, what about everyone else?

Glad you asked!

-Olympic gold medalist Centrowitz hasn't raced since mid-February, and he's pulled out of meets already this outdoor season, so he's a question mark. We'll have more info as the meet gets closer, especially when official heat sheets are released on Wednesday. But fingers crossed that Centro runs, because if he does, it will be fascinating. He ran 13:20 at Payton in 2014, and said after that race that he was down to run one 5K a year. He hasn't run one since.

-Watch out for the 13:22.60 IAAF World Championships qualifying standard.

-According to Tilastopaja, this is the first track 5K for Kyle Merber since 2010. Merber has actually finished second to Cheserek twice this year, in a 7:49 3K and 3:52 mile indoors. He's a major question mark in the event.

-This is Drew Hunter's track 5K debut. His truncated high school senior season meant that he barely got to show off his strength in 2016, but he ran a 7:59 3K indoors to break Cheserek's high school national record.

-Justyn Knight's 13:26 5K PR is from last summer, when he outkicked Galen Rupp. Only nine collegians (and none since Lalang and Cheserek three years ago) have broken 13:20 during the season.

-Knight might not even be the top Canadian in the field, as 2016 Olympians Nate Brannen and Luc Bruchet are scheduled to run.

-Morgan Pearson ran 13:32 on the roads last November, beating Shadrack Kipchirchir, Woody Kincaid, Lalang, and Hunter. He hasn't raced longer than two miles on the track in 2017 and could be ready for a breakout race.

-Campbell's 13:20 from this meet two years ago is the Jamaican record. Considering that he ran 13:14 indoors, it's safe to say that his national record is in dnager.

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