Yes I know, it does not have that magical ring to it that sub 4 for the mile has, but it's a much greater feat. I love the 5km - it's that blend of miling speed & 10km strength that intrigues me. If a group of exercise physiologists had to have chosen events, this is the one that they most certainly would not have - too complex, requiring super human ability to master, too hard to define the prerequisites the athlete requires to master the event. The fastest athletes I have ever coached got into the teens, never 12-anything; it would be an honor indeed to coach someone to go sub 13, or sub 15 for women for that matter.
The 1st guy ever to break 13min for 5000m was the great Moroccan Said Aouita in 1987 in Rome - he was a great miler & world record holder for multiple other distances from 1500m up to 5km. He even ran in the Olympics in the 800m such was his range!
It's not been around that long - the 12.5 lap event was born from the 3 mile event. I think the real buzz around the event came about when a flamboyant Brit by the name of Chris Chattaway (who was a rabbit in Bannister's world's 1st sub 4 clocking), who did minimum mileage, defeated the Russian iron man, Vladimir Kuts, who was famous for his incredible training volumes in a Russia versus England 5000m match in 1954 by hanging on for dear life through a suicidal pace & multiple surges. He set a new world record in 13:51.6 some 5sec faster than the previous record. (About 10 days later Kuts broke this record).
The current world record is just south of 12:40 (12:37:35to be exact), held by the still current king, Kenenisa Bekele from Ethiopia & there have been quite a few runners from Africa below
the magical barrier. My interest was perked when British miler David Moorcroft, somewhat unexpectedly ran 13:00:41 27 years ago (& still the British record- 3rd oldest). This was the last 5000m record set by a non-African (July 1982!). Incidentally this time was set without pace-makers - wow some race that must have been! This was 5sec faster than anyone had ever run before. He sadly never did go sub 13, as he became injured soon thereafter (stress fracture, hepatitis & chronic pelvic misalignment) & had a tragic exit from the '84 Olympics, coming last in the final in excruciating pain.
Bob Kennedy from the USA was the 1st non-African to go sub 13min, (12:58:21) in 1996. It took many years before the Aussie, Craig Mottram followed him under 13min - 12:55:76 coming 2nd to the great Gebrselassie in a UK all comers record with a last lap of 55.67 seconds in 2004
For more check out this interesting PDF: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=Bob+Kennedy+goes+sub+13&aq=f&oq=&aqi=&rlz=1W1GGLL_en
Now to cap it all, in one glorious season for US men's 5000m running both Dathan Ritzenhein (AR 12:56.27) & Matt Tegenkamp (12:58.56) also joined the exclusive sub-13 club. They join Bernard Lagat (12:59.22 to Bekele's 13:00.04) when he beat the unbeatable Bekele, as US runners sub 13. Lagat is formerly from Kenya, so has the pedigree.
Hope that inspires you to go out & break 25, or 20, or 15min for 5km - & if you break 14 without any formal coaching, give me a call & we'll talk, especially if you are a member of the fairer gender, hee, hee.