(10-Jul) -- Both Shelby Houlihan and Mo Ahmed improved on their national 5000m records in Portland, Ore., tonight at the Portland Intra-Squad Meet II organized by the Nike Bowerman Track Club. Houlihan set a pending USA record of 14:23.92, edging her teammate Karissa Schweizer who clocked 14:26.34, also under Houlihan's previous record of 14:34.45 set last year. Ahmed clocked an eye-popping 12:47.20, shattering his Canadian record of 12:58.16 set in 2019, and also setting a North American record. His Bowerman teammate, two-time Olympian Lopez Lomong, 35, finished second in a career best 12:58.78 making him the eighth-fastest man in American history.
The women were first to race tonight at Cronin Field at Jesuit High School. Seven women took to the track, and Olympic steeplechaser Colleen Quigley went right to the front to establish the predetermined pace of 70 seconds per lap. Quigley stayed on the front through 2000m in about 5:51 before Courtney Frerichs took over, followed by Elise Cranny. Cranny got the group through 3000m in a snappy 8:47.88 at which time she and Frerichs dropped back (they would finish third and fourth in 15:32.81 and 15:32.84, respectively. From that point, it was only Houlihan and Schweizer who were circling the track.
"I knew Karissa was going to come up on me and take the lead... and I kept fighting her off," Houlihan told Paul Swangard in her post-race interview on USATF.TV.
But Schweizer would never pass Houlihan who notched up the pace the last three laps, running 68.9, 65.8 then closing in 61.5 to smash her record.
"I tried to have a big kick in the last lap," said Houlihan, a 13-time national champion.
Schweizer, who dropped her personal best by a whopping 19 seconds, was pleased to become the second-fastest American of all time. She loves training with Houlihan, but also loves racing her.
"I'm training with my biggest competitor every day," said Schweizer who is only 24. "I would say we're very good teammates, but we're competitors."
"I know she's going to get that 5-K record at a point," Houlihan said of Schweizer.
Like the women's race, the men's contest also came down to just two athletes in the final laps. In the early going, Ryan Hill got the pace established, clicking off 62-second laps through 1800m before Grant Fisher took over, squeezing down the pace to 61-second laps and getting the leaders through 3000m in 7:46.10.
"I give all the credit to my teammates," Lomong said in his post-race interview. "We're all building from each other."
At 3400m, only Ahmed and Lomong were left at the front. Lomong tucked in behind his younger rival who, like Houlihan, started to ratcheted up the pace. The lanky Canadian ran 60.4, 59.5 and 57.5 for the last three laps to put the race away. He was confident he could get the record.
"With two laps to go I saw 10:40-something (on the clock)," Ahmed said. "I was like, I can run two flat. You've run two flat all your life!"
With tonight's performance, Ahmed became the tenth-fastest man in history.
"This year I said, no limits," he said.
Lomong had hoped to break Bernard Lagat's USA record of 12:53.60, but that will have to wait for another day.
"Today is another stepping stone," said Lomong. He added: "I think today is a big moment, and I want to thank my teammates for doing this."