SAN JOSE, Calif. – When most people were enjoying a delicious meal amongst family and friends, junior runner Diego Estrada was out doing what he loves. The Salinas, Calif., native took part in the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot this past Thursday. It wasn't your normal 5K trot though as Estrada was going up against U.S. mile record-holder, Allen Webb, and six-time NCAA champion, Galen Rupp.
Estrada, having just run a 10K at the NCAA Championships and claiming his first All-American honor, didn't decide until 24 hours before the race that he would compete. He had to talk his way into the elite field of 26 sub-14 minute 5K runners, but proved his worth when he crossed the finish line.
With 600 meters left in the race, Estrada unleashed a strong kick to pass eight competitors and finish fourth overall in a time of 13 minutes and 50 seconds. It was third fastest 5K of his career.
"In my head, I went in there with a new strategy which was to sit in the middle of the pack and catch as many people as I could at the end," Estrada said. "I didn't even tell my family I was going because it was more of a challenge to myself because I wanted to end the season on Monday's (NCAA Championships) performance."
Known to be a "front runner" his whole career, Estrada even surprised himself when he was able to sit back and outkick his opponents in the end.
"I shocked myself," Estrada said. "It was such a rush when I crossed the finish line in fourth. When I look at the video of the finish, it is exciting to see me fly around the pack at the end and pass people because I have never been able to do that."
Webb (13:36) and Rupp (13:39) finished first and second, and were followed by former course record holder, Scott Bauhs (13:47) and Estrada.
With the indoor track season looming, Estrada feels that his new-found style could prove to be an asset in competition.
"It gives me confidence in the way that I have the ability to go to the front of the race and control it, but now I know I am comfortable sitting in the middle of the pack," Estrada said, "If I time it right, I think it could play out well at a national championship meet."