Manx athlete Keith Gerrard sliced 49 seconds off his own Manx 10 kilometre record while taking fifth place at the Stanford University Invitational near San Francisco on Friday evening.
In his first outing of the 2010 outdoor track season, the Manx Sports Aid recipient clocked 28.42.51 to achieve the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s automatic regional qualifying time and the Isle of Man Commonwealth Games consideration standard for 10k.
Running in the section one heat consisting of 26 competitors, the University of New Mexico student was content to stay at the back of the field for the first half of the race, passing the 5k mark in a split time of 14.27.
This proved to be a wise tactic and, with gaining confidence in the remaining laps, was able to latch onto the back of the leading break-away pack.
A final 5000 metres in 14.15 saw him move into fifth place, recording a last lap of 65 seconds.
Keith, who had struggled to find his best form in his first months in the USA, said after the event: ‘I’m very pleased as this is a huge step forward for me. Sub-29 has been in the back of my mind for a while now, so to smash it feels great.
‘The conditions were perfect and the race was ideal. Because it was my first outdoor race of the year I wasn’t totally sure where my fitness was at but I was still confident I would go fast. The first couple of laps were a little shaky when I was getting into position but I soon got into the rhythm. All I had to do then was cover the breaks and dig deep.’
Although Keith’s early season run makes him the only UK athlete to be ranked at 10,000 metres so far this year, only two British athletes ran quicker over that distance in 2009.
Keith now begins a busy two-month schedule with a trip back to California on April 16 to compete at the Mount SAC Relays in Walnut, Los Angeles, where he will attempt to improve on his 5k personal best.