The top road racing action in the United States on Sunday will be split between the east and west coasts and at different distances.
In Washington, D.C., the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run will celebrate its 37th running with a $40,000 prize money purse, five recent race champions and two Olympic medalists. Ridouane Harroufi, who became the first Moroccan to win the Cherry Blossom, will be back to defend his title, and his recent victory at the Azalea Trail Run 10-K in Mobile, Ala., shows that he's in good form. Last year's NYC Half-Marathon champion Tadese Tola of Ethiopia should be his top challenger, but three-time Cherry Blossom champion John Korir is certainly hoping for another win. Kenyans Kiplimo Kimutai, Silas Sang, Samuel Ndereba and MacDonald Ondara should also contend. The top Americans entered are Jason Lehmkuhle and Jason Hartmann.
Two-time Olympic silver medalist Catherine Ndereba of Kenya headlines the women's field which competes in a separate all-women's elite race, but she won't be wearing the #1 bib. That goes to Lineth Chepkurui, the race's defending champion who was fourth at last Saturday's IAAF World Cross Country Championships. Other contenders include Ethiopia's Abebu Gelan, Britain's Kathy Butler, Kenya's Pauline Kiragu Wanguru, and Romania's Lidia Simon, the second Olympic medalist. Hoping to deliver the first USA women's victory here since Joan Nesbit in 1996 will be Zoila Gomez, Sally Meyerhoff, Allison Grace, Kristen Fryburg, Kristin Nicolini Lehmkuhle, and Tera Moody.
Some 4200 kilometers away, the 24th Carlsbad 5000 will take place on the same day in Carlsbad, Calif., the home of the 13 fastest men's 5 kilometer road times in history. The men's race is loaded with talent, led by defending champion Terefe Maregu Zewdie of Ethiopia. He's facing an impressive list of challengers from his own nation --Abreham Cherkos, Ali Abdosh, Ibrahim Jeilan, and Bekana Daba-- all of whom have broken 13:10 for 5000m on the track. The Kenyan team is led by Shedrack Korir (13:09.92 PB) and Haron Lagat (13:36 PB/road).
The last American man to win here was Doug Padilla in 1990, and Anthony Famiglitti and Scott Bauhs are hoping to change that. "Fam," a two-time Olympian in the steeplechase, was the USA road 5-K champion last year and has run 13:11.93 on the track. Bauhs, last year's NCAA D-II cross country champion, has run 13:31.90 on the track and, in his road racing debut last November, won a 5 km race in 13:37.
San Francisco's Shannon Rowbury leads the women's field. The reigning USA 1500m champion has run 15:38.42 on the track and 15:54 on the road for 5 km, but her four-flat 1500m speed makes her the fastest closer in the race. Her key challengers will be Ethiopia's Aheza Kiros, Australia's Lara Tamsett, Minnesota's Katie McGregor, and Canada's Malindi Elmore.
There are special $5000 bonuses should the top Americans break the existing American records (13:24/14:54).