Warwick, RI - Edward Cheserek is unlike any other runner in the country at this point. The excitement is palpable when he approaches the starting line. Crowds flock to the outermost edges of race courses just to get a glimpse, and fans mob the soft-spoken star for pictures as he exits the finish chute.
Today he continued his revision of the record books by shattering the Goddard State Park 5,000 meter course record by over 25 seconds. His winning time of 14:34.6 marks the fourth course record in as many weeks, and he confirmed that it’s all by design. “My plan was to get the course record because last year I missed it by a few seconds.”
What’s most impressive about Cheserek’s recent performances is not the fact that he is breaking records, but rather, how he is breaking them. The junior has conquered hilly courses, flat courses, muddy courses; and he has not shown a weakness in his spectrum of skills. The only thing Cheserek has not demonstrated this season is an ability to deal with mid-race competition. Not because he is incapable, but because nobody has been able to withstand his initial move.
The muddy course at Godard Park funnels quickly into a wooded section with a path that is roughly four feet wide. Passing is difficult when the course is dry, but nearly impossible when the course has standing water. The nature of the course forces a fast start and a quick thinning of the pack. All of this played into Cheserek’s hand and he took advantage of the topography. At the mile mark he made a significant move and methodically extended that lead through a series of blind corners over the next 3K.
When Cheserek emerged from the woods to the roughly 500 meter straightaway that leads to the finish line, he was alone. Very alone! The race behind him for second was fierce, but Cheserek’s lead was so big that he appeared to be in a completely separate race. The margin of victory was officially 47 seconds, but it may as well have been 47 minutes. Keep in mind that the field was full of top tier athletes from Rhode Island, New York, and Massachusetts. Their times were also very impressive, but Cheserek is in a world of his own.
His success is not a flash in the pan. Last year we witnessed several brilliant performances, but he seemed to be constantly plagued by injury and overshadowed by Lukas Verzbicas. “Last year I was really injured. This year I am trying to extend my mileage.” This newfound consistency in training has completely transformed his racing, and his potential is uncharted.
Verzbicas has moved on to the University of Oregon and the spotlight now belongs to Cheserek. He will continue to annihilate the course records we all thought would last for decades, and the best runners in the country will have to seriously contemplate a new strategy to beat a runner with no apparent weaknesses.