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By David Monti
(c) 2008 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

Over 47,000 runners are expected for one of America's great sporting rites of spring: the 32nd Lilac Bloomsday Run set for Sunday in Spokane, Wash.

The race may be big, but it's also fast.  Race director Don Kardong and elite athlete coordinator Jon Neill have pulled together a very strong field, led by two of Kenya's heaviest hitters: Micah Kogo and Catherine Ndereba.

Kogo, 21, is as swift on the road as he is on the track where he has a 26:35.63 10,000m personal best.  Although he has limited road racing experience, he's been nearly unbeatable.  In 2007 he ran the Kenyan 10-K record of 27:07 at the Parelloop in Brunssum, Netherlands, and won the seven-mile CIGNA Falmouth Road Race by a whopping 20 seconds.  He went back to Brunssum again in 2008, and was beaten by Moses Masai, 27:22 to 27:29, in what were the two fastest road 10-K times so far this year.

Possibly standing in Kogo's way for winning his first Bloomsday are Kenyan compatriots John Korir, Gilbert Okari and Moses Kigen.  Korir is a three-time Bloomsday champion and still one of the best kickers on the road.

"John Korir is a great competitor," said Neill through a prepared statement.  "He knows the course well and is the clear favorite
coming into this year's race.  But he'll be running against a formidable field, so he'll have to be on top of his game to notch that fourth victory."

Okari was also a Bloomsday champion in 2006, while Kigen won the 2008 Crescent City Classic 10-K in New Orleans in a snappy 27:44 and also won the Azalea Tral Run in Mobile, Ala.

Despite all of her accomplishments, Catherine Ndereba has never won at Bloomsday.  The two-time marathon world champion will face the red-hot Genoveva Jelagat who, like Kigen, won both the Crescent City Classic and Azalea Trail Runs before finishing third at the Carlsbad 5000m earlier this month.

"Genoveva's performances from this spring along with her sizeable margins of victory in the races she won, show that she is
coming to Bloomsday ready to challenge for the title," said Neill.

A $56,000 prize money purse will be on the line.  The course records are 33:55 for men, shared by Arturo Barrios (1993) and Yobes Ondieki (1992), and 38:38 for women, set by Isabellah Ochichi (2006).

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