CALIFORNIA: Belainesh Gebre of Ethiopia wins 2008 Santa Monica 5000


SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA – In a thrilling finish down Santa Monica’s Ocean Avenue, San Luis Obispo based runner Phillip Reid successfully held off Christian Hesch from Morro Bay to win the Los Angeles Sports and Fitness (LAS&F) Invitational at the third annual Saint John’s Santa Monica 5000.

Reid’s time of 13.58.9, shattered the course record of 2006 & 2007 winner Kenyan Haron Lagat by 6 seconds. Reid won $1,500 for his first place finish, along with a $300 time bonus for breaking 14:20.

The total time between first-place Reid, 13.58.9, second-place Hesch, 14:00.9, and third-place Brett Gotcher, 14:01.8, was less than three seconds, captivating hundreds of spectators on the bluffs of Santa Monica.

The LAS&F Invitational, which was first run in 2004 in Agoura Hills, brings together the best athletes from Southern California and the world to compete in the Championship of L.A. Road Racing.

“The LAS&F Invitational is the stage for California’s best to compete. It makes for outstanding competition, a great race and also a wonderful event to watch,” said LAS&F Publisher Danny Greenberg.

In the women’s 5k race, Ethiopian Belainesh Gebre easily won in 15:47.1 holding off Kenyan Evelryne Lagat. Fellow Ethiopian and New Mexico based countrywoman Naser Teyba finished third.

In the 10k race, Jacques Sallberg, won the men’s pack for the second consecutive year, in 30:32.4 and Christine Bolf of Los Angeles, won the women’s field, in 36:17.8.

The festivities began early Sunday morning under partly cloudy skies and 60 degrees Fahrenheit as L.A. based yoga teacher Rainbeau Mars led a group stretch to the thousands of athletes. The post-race Party on the Pier featured several live bands and a pancake breakfast.

Race proceeds benefit Saint John’s Health Center. With 30,000 patient visits each year, the Saint John’s 24-hour Emergency Department provides life-saving services to the community each and every day.

“Saint John’s has served the people of Santa Monica and neighboring communities for over 60 years. We are pleased to be the beneficiary of such a wonderful health and fitness event right here in our own community,” said Robert O. Klein, Saint John’s Vice President of Foundation and Health Center Relations.

In addition to Saint John’s, race sponsors included Lexus, CBS2/KCAL, Calitus Capital Management, Clif Bar, Equinox Fitness Balance, b, Clif Bar and b. Media sponsors are the Santa Monica Daily Press, Los Angeles Sports and Fitness magazine, and Jack FM.