WASHINGTON, DC - Another year, another event record set in the 40th running of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run on Sunday morning.
Allan Kiprono avenged a second-place finish in 2011 with his record time of 45 minutes, 15 seconds. He and fellow Kenyan Julliah Tinega dominated their respective races. Tinega, who earned her second consecutive title, won the women's race with a time of 54:02 - a full 22 seconds ahead of Malika Mejdoub. Kiprono was never challenged, and his 1:13 margin of victory was the largest in at least 13 years at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run.
Kiprono, 22, and countryman Lani Kiplagat broke away from the men's pack within the first mile. Ketema Nugusse stayed with them for a short time before deciding to drop back. That left the two Kenyans to battle for the men's title. At Mile 5, Kiprono separated from his rival and opened a 40-meter lead. By Mile 6 that was up to 110 meters and it simply kept growing.
"I tried to push to keep the pace faster and faster. We helped each other," said Kiprono, who finished second to Lelisa Desisa by just five seconds in 2011. "My goal was only to win, but the course record — I did not expect to run 45:20. So the last mile I keep maintaining and keep running faster. Everything was perfect." (Editor's addition from LRC. The men's course record was Lelisa Desisa's, a 59:30 half-marathoner, from last year of 45:36)
Tinega, meanwhile, began to pull away from the other elite female runners by Mile 2. Behind her, Malika Mejdoub and Yunilesh Delelecha ran side by side until Mejdoub made her move between Miles 7 and 8, picking up a little time on TInega. Mejdoub, however would never get closer than 10-15 seconds before TInega finally pulled away, cruising to victory by matching her exact winning time from last year (54:02), when it was just one second better than the second-place finisher. Kiprono was on hand at the finish waving the country's flag in support.
A total of $46,000 in prize money and bonuses was awarded in 2012 in equal amounts to the top 10 men and top 10 women, with $7,500 going to each champion. Kiprono also earned a time bonus of $750. In addition, a total of $3,500 in prize money was awarded to the top three U.S. men and women. On the men's side, Ian Burrell (Tucson, AZ) placed fourth overall (47:34) with Jesse Cherry (Blowing Rock, NC) taking fifth (47:40) and Josh Moen (Minneapolis, MN) in seventh (48:38). In all, six of the top 10 male runners were Americans.
The American women also had a banner day. Stephanie Pezzullo (Charlotte, NC) earned sixth place (55:16). Kristen Zaitz (Boulder, CO) was seventh and Emily Harrison (56:04) eighth. Former champion and course-record holder Colleen DeReuck, now 48 and a Boulder, CO resident, placed 10th overall (58:14). She was the 1998 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run champion and her time that day, 51:16, was then a world record.
In honor of the first race in 1973, the 16 male runners who went faster than Sam Bair's winning time of 51:22 and the 175 women who bettered Kathrine Switzer's first place time of 1:11:19 were awarded a mug boasting "I would have won this race in 1973!" Last year 22 men and 138 women ran faster than Bair's and Switzer's 1973 times.
On the fundraising front, a total of $515,000 was raised for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals this year.
This year's event took place on the second weekend of the National Cherry Blossom Festival®, the nation's greatest springtime celebration. The 2012 Festival, March 20 - April 27, includes five spectacular weeks of events featuring diverse and creative programming promoting traditional and contemporary arts and culture, natural beauty, and community spirit. The 2012 Festival commemorates the 100th anniversary of the gift of the cherry trees and the enduring friendship between the United States and Japan.
The Credit Union Cherry Blossom is known as "The Runner's Rite of Spring®." The staging area for the event is on the Washington Monument Grounds and the course passes in sight of all of the major Washington, DC Memorials. The event serves as a fundraiser for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, a consortium of 170 premier children's hospitals across the United States. Since the Credit Unions became the title sponsor in 2002, over $5 million dollars has been raised through donations and fundraising on the part of the runners and individual sponsoring Credit Unions and partners. About one-third of these funds support Washington, DC's own Children's National Medical Center ("Children's Hospital"). The event also funds two $5,000 Road Runners Club of America "Roads Scholar" grants designed to support up-and-coming U.S. distance running talent.