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Feel Like Pulling a Fast One? Try Newport 5000

June 17, 1993|RICK VANDERKNYFF | Rick VanderKnyff is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition. and

What's the fastest 5K road racecourse in the state?

Most of the smart money would go to the Carlsbad 5000, the site of several world records over the past several years. But Bill Sumner, director of the annual Newport 5000, is not conceding the title so easily.

Sumner, in fact, calls the Newport 5000 "California's Fastest Certified 5K Course" on race flyers. He bases that claim on the fact that, though the Carlsbad 5000 has seen world records broken because organizers bring in elite international athletes, the Newport 5000 has seen more national age-group records broken.

However you draw the comparison, the Newport 5000 qualifies as a fast course and one that is drawing more runners every year. It attracted 1,800 athletes in the first year, 2,600 in the second and 3,000 last year. Sumner expects to draw more than 4,000 competitors in its fourth running Sunday.

He also predicts lots of spectators--between 15,000 and 20,000.

Sumner said one reason the course is fast is because it heads gently downhill in its second mile, when many runners lag a bit after a fast opening mile. The course does climb gently in its final mile, but Sumner said that by then, most runners will experience a second wind as they approach the finish line.

Starting at Birch Street and Jamboree Road, the course goes west to MacArthur Boulevard, north to Campus Drive and back eastward to Jamboree. From there it traces a large triangle: south on Jamboree to MacArthur, northwest on MacArthur to Birch, and east on Birch to the finish.

The run has attracted some elite racers in the past, notably locals Kathy Smith and Mark Junkerman. Both are expected to return this year, to be joined by Brian Abshire, currently ranked third in the country in the 5,000 meters. Abshire recently ran blistering 5K times of 13 minutes, 19 seconds at Fontana and 13:30 at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut.

Course records for the Newport 5000 are 14:05 by Greg Whitely for the men and 16:12 by Kathy Bowman for the women.

"Both records will go," Sumner said. "I can guarantee it."

This is the first year the Newport 5000 has offered prize money: $500 for first place, $300 for second and $100 for third for both men and women.

Besides the 5K, there is a 2K for children 12 and under, with medals for everyone and prizes for the top finishers in each age category.

Race-day registration begins at 6:30 a.m. Runners can also register today and Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Le Meridien Hotel, 4500 MacArthur Blvd. in Newport Beach.

Proceeds will benefit youth athletic programs in Orange County.

*

And now for something completely different--South Coast Audubon will have its last bird walk of the season at 8 a.m. Saturday at Irvine Regional Park in Orange. Organizers are expecting to spot many nesting birds.

A potluck picnic will be held afterward, and participants are asked to bring a favorite dish to serve eight. There is a $2 fee for entrance into the park. Information: (714) 858-8698.

* What: Newport 5000 road race.

* When: Sunday, June 20. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m. The race for men and women 40 and older begins at 8 a.m.; the race for runners 39 and younger will begin at 8:45 a.m. The Newport 2000, for children 12 and under, starts at 9:30 a.m. A non-competitive 5-K walk goes at 10 a.m.

* Where: Birch Street and Jamboree Road, Newport Beach.

* Whereabouts: From the San Diego (405) Freeway, exit at Jamboree Road and head south to Campus Drive. Turn right and follow the signs to the parking area.

* Wherewithal: $20 entry fee (includes T-shirt).

* Where to call: (714) 854-3266.

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