Preview of 2013 Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Miler – Stacked International Field Ready To Compete/US Women’s National Title To Be Decided

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At Least $55,400 To Be Handed Out on Sunday

*Race On Live For Free at 7:10 AM ET

By David Monti
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

WASHINGTON (06-Apr) — Tomorrow’s 41st Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile will see a women’s national champion crowned, and over $50,000 in prize money and potential time bonuses dispersed.  Organizers are anticipating cool, sunny and dry race conditions, and an attack on at least one record: the USA national mark of 54:38 for an all-women’s race.

On the men’s side, athletes from Kenya are set to dominate the event, led by training partners Allan Kiprono and Lani Rutto, who are both coached by Germany’s Dieter Hogen.  Kiprono, 23, scorched this flat course last year in his opening race of the season, setting a new course and event record of 45:15 (Rutto was a distant second).  That performance set the stage for his overall victory in the BAA Distance Medley where he accumulated the lowest total time in the B.A.A. 5-K, 10-K, and Half-Marathon which netted him a $100,000 bonus, the largest non-marathon prize in all of road running.

“Allan Kiprono is going to be our defending champion here,” said the event’s elite athlete coordinator, Bill Orr in a brief interview.  “He’s in shape and he has the course record as well as the event record.  So, not only are we excited for him to return, but he is in good shape.  He placed third at Crescent City (27:46 for 10-K).”

Other top Kenyans entered include Shadrack Kosgei, Geoffrey Kenesi, Stephen Sambu, and Daniel Salel.  Ethiopia’s Tesfaye Girma should also be in the mix.

The women’s contest is actually two races, one for the overall title and another for the USA championship.  Three-time champion Lineth Chepkurui of Kenya, who ran 51:51 here in 2010, is the best-known athlete in the international field.  Orr is happy to see her back after being absent the last two years.

“She’s had, I believe, some leg problems over the last couple of years,” Orr said of Chepkurui.  “It will be interesting to see how she transitions off of that.  I’m looking forward to her coming back; that’s why we awarded her bib #2.”

Based on recent form, however, Kenya’s Caroline Rotich is likely the best bet for victory.  She ran a brilliant race at the NYC Half on March 17, to win over a loaded international field, and she’s using the race here as yet another build-up run for the Prague Marathon in May.

“Caroline Rotich is another fine pick, coming off of her victory at the New York Half,” Orr added.

Two lesser-known Kenyan women, Alice Kimutai and Millicent Kuria, should also contend for the overall victory.  Kimutai won the Allstate Crescent City Classic 10-K last weekend in a very solid 31:51, and Kuria was ninth in 32:37.  Late entrant Belaynesh Oljira of Ethiopia just won the bronze medal at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, and Ukraine’s Lyudmyla Kovalenko was fifth at the NYC Half in a national record 69:43, and clocked 32:58 at Crescent City.

In the USA Championship division, Orr sees Olympian Janet Bawcom as the favorite.  Bawcom, 34, who lives and trains in Flagstaff, Ariz., won the USA 15-K title on March 9, in Jacksonville in 49:44.  That mark is equivalent to a 53:39 10-mile, which is well below the late Sally Meyerhoff‘s national all-women’s record set here in 2009 (the elite women start 10 minutes ahead of the men and the masses).

“I think in past results we’ve looked, and it’s going to be Janet Bawcom (as the favorite in the USA championship),” Orr reasoned.  “She seems to be, not my favorite but my prediction, to come out #1.”

Renee Metivier Baillie, the 2012 USA 20-K champion, should give Bawcom a strong run, and three-time Olympian Jen Rhines is also in the race, just her second of the year.  Colorado’s Brianne Nelson, a mother of two who ran as Brianne Lippoldt at Fort Lewis College in the early aughts, could also be a factor in the championship division.  She was fourth at the USA 15-K Championship last month, and ran 32:54.50 for 10,000m at Stanford University one week ago.

Prize money at this event is substantial.  There is $41,000 available in the open divisions ($8000 each for the men’s and women’s champions), plus another $14,400 in the USA Championship division ($5000 to the national champion).  American women can “double dip” from both the open and championship purses.  There is also a $2500 bonus for beating Meyerhoff’s record, so an American woman who wins the race overall in a time under Meyerhoff’s record would collect $15,500.

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