40th Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run Celebrates Its Past In Fast, Fun And Fanciful Ways
March 28, 2012
Among Other Highlights, 10-mile Runners Race to Win “I Would Have Won This Race In 1973” Commemorative Mugs
Washington, DC: Race organizers of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run – the Runner’s Rite of Spring® – announced today the final lineup of elite runners for the event’s 40th running on April 1, 2012.
Kenya’s Allan Kiprono finished just five seconds behind Lelisa Desisa’s course record-setting time last year in 45:41, running the third fastest time ever in the race. Kiprono may well be the favorite this year, but he will face a challenging field of runners, including Ethiopian Azmeraw Bekele, who recently ran 1:00:42 in a half marathon in the United Arab Emirates; Kenyan John Korir, a three-time past champion (2001, 2003, 2005), who was fourth here in 2010 in a time of 46:05; and Kenyan Lani Kiplagat, who was fourth last year in 46:30.
Josh Moen comes into the race with the fastest time among Americans of 46:38, which he ran in April 2009 at the Medtronic 10-Mile in St. Paul, Minnesota. Moen’s competition for top American will include a highly competitive group of participants from the recent U.S. Men’s Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston, Texas: Patrick Rizzo placed 13th in 2:13:42, Ian Burrell ran 2:14:04 to place 15th; and Jesse Cherry was 29th in 2:16:31. Matt Hensley and James Uthmeier round out the invited U.S. men’s field. (More details on the men's field available here.)
Of course, there will be some fast local runners in the field as well. Karl Dusen, who hails from North Bethesda, Maryland, placed 16th last year in a time of 50:06. Dusen’s Georgetown Running Company Racing Team also won the title of top Washington Metropolitan Elite Team in 2011.
In the women’s race, 2011 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Champion Julliah Tinega, who ran 54:02 last year, returns to defend her title. Poland’s Agnieszka Ciolek has the next fastest time over 10 miles of 54:41, which she ran last fall in Portsmouth, Great Britain; followed by England’s Claire Hallisey, who ran 54:57 last year to place eighth in the Credit Union Cherry Blossom race. Ukrainian Keteryna Stetsenko, who has not raced the 10-mile distance before, recently placed 8th in the Tokyo Marathon, running 2:28:38. Other contenders include Moroccan Malika Mejdoub, with a 10-mile best of 55:40, and a recent half marathon time of 1:11:13; and Ethiopian Yunilesh Delelecha, who won last year’s George Washington Parkway Classic in Alexandria, Virginia, in a time of 56:57.
The highly competitive group of American women includes: Kristen Fryburg-Zaitz, with a 10-mile best of 55:39; Christine Ramsey, who ran 56:53 in Philadelphia in January 2011; Emily Harrison, with a personal best of 59:44; and Stephanie Pezzullo, who has not raced the 10-mile distance, but recently ran a 1:13:14 half marathon in New York City. (More details on the women's field available here.)
Arlington, Virginia, residents Jennifer Houck and Englishwoman Claire Hallissey will duel for the honor of first local female. Houck will be racing for Pacer’s Racing Team, while Hallissey will be racing for the Capital Area Runners.
A total of $46,000 in prize money and bonuses will be awarded in 2012 in equal amounts to the top 10 men and top 10 women, with $7,500 going to each champion. In addition, a total of $3,500 in prize money will be awarded to the top three U.S. men and women – if they place among the top 15 finishers.
Ben Beach, who resides in Bethesda, Maryland, is the only runner who has completed all 39 editions of the race. Joining Ben and some 15,000 other runners in the 10-mile race will be Gerri Baer from Rockville, Maryland. Gerri’s claim to fame: she is the only runner in this year’s race who was born on April 1, 1973, the date of the inaugural Cherry Blossom Ten Mile. In addition to Beach and birthday girl Baer, VIP treatment will be extended to Andriana Swinson, who, last year, was the 200,000th runner to ever cross a Cherry Blossom Ten Mile finish line; Swinson ran 1:15:17 to place ninth in the women’s 50-54 age group in 2011.
In honor of that first race in 1973, any male who runs faster than Sam Bair’s winning time of 51:22, and any female who betters Kathrine Switzer’s first place time of 1:11:19 will be awarded a mug that boasts “I would have won this race in 1973!” FYI, last year 22 men and 138 women ran faster than Bair’s and Switzer’s 1973 times.
Race organizers are taking full advantage of past champions and other notable runners returning for the 40th running of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, involving as many of them as possible in the pre-race schedule of clinics to be held during the Health and Fitness Expo on Friday, March 30th and Saturday, March 31st. Four-time Cherry Blossom champion Bill Rodgers, American Record holder Greg Meyer (46:13), 1984 Olympic Marathon Gold Medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson, Cherry Blossom Course Record holder Colleen De Reuck (51:16), and the first two-time Cherry Blossom champion (1974, 1975), Carl Hatfield, will each participate in at least one Expo clinic at the National Building Museum. Rodgers is scheduled to speak at 2 pm on Friday and 1 pm on Saturday; Samuelson will speak at 3 pm on Friday and noon on Saturday; Colleen and Darren De Reuck, her husband and coach, will speak at 5 pm on Friday and 3:30 pm on Saturday; and Greg Meyer will speak at 11 am on Saturday. Two-time champion Hatfield will join a panel of past race directors Gar Williams, Ed Murray and Jeff Darman at 2 pm on Saturday.
On the fundraising front, to date, 521 runners have raised $115,000 for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals this year. All Credit Union Cherry Blossom runners, their families and friends are encouraged to contribute to this annual fundraising effort. More information can be found at: www.cucherryblossomfundraising.org.
Finally, as mentioned in the February 6, 2012 press release announcing the partnership with Teens Run DC, more than 50 at-risk youth from five District high schools have been training for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile and 5K events. The students and their mentors have been looking forward to Sunday’s events since early fall. While the majority of students will run the 10-mile, the newest team members from Ballou High School will likely run the 5K. In the three years since Teens Run DC was founded, the success rate of students who have participated in DC-area races is 100%. Teens Run DC will also be out in full force at the Health and Fitness Expo at the National Building Museum on Friday and Saturday.
This year’s event takes 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.
About the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile:
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. (More details on the women’s field available here.)