Americans Chase $10,000 Bonus For Breaking American Record
April 8, 2015, Washington, DC: With cherry blossoms expected to be at their peak this weekend for the race - the first time since 2007 - runners and spectators at the 2015 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile have a lot to look forward to, with several past champions returning this year in hopes of winning the race once again. Last year's men's champion, Stephen Sambu, will face off against fellow Kenyan Daniel Salel, the 2014 champion and runner-up to Sambu by less than a second last year. Three-time women's champion Lineth Chepkurui (2008, '09, '10) will be challenged by Kenyan compatriots Cynthia Jerotich, who comes into the race on a hot streak that includes a second place at last weekend's Crescent City Classic 10K in New Orleans, Mary Wacera, and Aliphine Tuliamek, who placed third here last year.
This year's edition of the Runner's Rite of Spring boasts the largest prize purse ever - $80,500, of which a total of $40,000 will be distributed in equal payments to the top ten men and women finishers. An additional $25,000 will be paid to the top ten American men and women. U.S. citizens will also be chasing a $10,000 bonus for breaking the American ten-mile road records; the bonus will be split if both men's and women's records of 46:13 and 52:12, respectively, are broken. The first two men to break 46 minutes and the first two women under 52 minutes will earn bonuses of $1,000 and $750 for the fastest and second fastest time.
"We first started making time bonus payments in 2008," said Race Director Phil Stewart, "and we have had to pay them every year since. Last year, both Stephen Sambu and Daniel Salel were rewarded for their sub-46 minute performances, and Janet Bawcom earned the American Record bonus for the second year in a row. Given the right conditions this year, we are likely to be getting out the checkbook once again, and will be very happy to do so."
As they have since 2006, the elite women will have an advance start, which will allow them an opportunity to compete for records that will be recognized as coming from a women's-only race. The elite women's race will start at 7:18 a.m. on Sunday, April 12, 2015, with the elite men and seeded open runners starting at 7:30 a.m. Some 15,000 other runners will then be set off in five more waves between 7:33 - 7:53 a.m.
While three-time champion Lineth Chepkurui will be looking for the level of performance that earned her consecutive victories in 2008, '09 and '10, the favorite's label for this year's women's race goes to Cynthia Jerotich, whose string of fast 10Ks include a recent win at the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K in 32:18, a very close second at the World's Best 10K in 31:58 and 32:11 for another second place at last weekend's Crescent City Classic 10K. Mary Wacera, last year's PRRO Circuit champion by virtue of her victories at the World's Best 10K and the Lilac Bloomsday 12K, will certainly be competitive, as will Aliphine Tuliamik, who placed third here last year in 52:16. (More detail on the Women?s field is available at http://www.cherryblossom.org/images/2015/CUCB_Bios_Women.pdf).
Among the American women, Juliet Bottorff comes in as the marginal favorite, having recently run 51:11 at the Gate River Run 15K (4th) to Selena Burla's 15th place time of 53:19 at the same event, which served as the USA 15K Women's Championship. Burla's half marathon personal best, however, is significantly faster than Bottorff's - 1:10:08 vs. 1:11:30. Like Bottorff, Katie Matthews ran the 2015 Aramco Houston Half Marathon, placing 8th to Bottorff's 6th in a time of 1:11:37; both are in just their second year of professional road racing.
Two other American women of note are very familiar to distance running fans - Jen Rhines and Joan Benoit Samuelson. Three-time Olympian Rhines turned 40 last summer and has won five masters titles since then. With a Cherry Blossom best 4th place in 1997 (55:39), and a 10th place finish last year (54:38), Rhines will be targeting both the Cherry Blossom age group record of 53:51, set by Priscilla Welch in 1987, and the national age group record of 52:41, set by Deena Kastor en route at the 2014 Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. Los Angeles Olympic gold medalist in the marathon Samuelson returns to the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile for the third time with her eye on the 55-59 Cherry Blossom age group record of 1:04:34, set by Nancy Stewart in 2012, as well as the national 55-59 record of 1:02:39, set by Rae Baymiller at the 1998 Crim Ten Miler. Samuelson set the 50-54 national record here in 2010 with a time of 1:00:52.
On the men's side, past champions Sambu and Salel will be joined by countryman Leonard Korir, who recently won the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon in 1:01:06, beating Sambu by just one second. This will be the third time Sambu and Korir have raced each other this year, with Sambu having prevailed at the World's Best 10K in a time 28:56 (3rd) vs. Korir's 29:36 (10th). Kenyan Dominic Ondoro, who placed 7th here last year (47:05), is coming off a recent win at the Cooper River Bridge 10K (29:22) and a close second at last weekend's Crescent City Classic 10K (28:58), and he should also be competitive. (More detail on the Men's field is available at CherryBlossom.org).
The American men will be led by recently crowned USA Marathon Champion Jared Ward. Ward was third overall at the Asics Los Angeles Marathon in a time of 2:12:56, and was also second American at the USA Half Marathon Championships (1:01:42), held in conjunction with the Aramco Houston Half Marathon in January. Luke Puskedra has also run well at the USA Half Marathon Championships over the years, placing 6th last year in 1:01:48, 5th in 2013 in 1:02:32 and 4th in 2012 in 1:01:36. Girma Mecheso rounds out the field of American favorites, having placed 3rd at last weekend's Crescent City 10K (29:03), and 10th here last year in a time of 47:22.
Two other American men are very worthy of mention. Ben Beach will be running Cherry Blossom for the 43rd time - the only person to have run every edition of the race. Beach also has a string of consecutive Boston Marathon finishes that stretches all the way back to 1968, when he was a freshman at Harvard University. Dixon Hemphill and his Potomac Valley Track Club teammates recently set the World Record for the 4 x 800 meter relay at the USATF Masters Indoor Championships, with a time of 29:47.68 - Hemphill is 90 years young, and will be running the 5K. Hemphill cannot boast of a streak of Cherry Blossom Runs like Beach's, but he has run either the 5K or 10-mile 27 times previously.
In addition to the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile and 5K Run-Walk races, there will also be a Kid's Run at 9:30 a.m. Four hundred boys and girls will set off on a loop course on the Washington Monument Grounds, west of the 10-mile and 5K bag check and staging area.
All runners and spectators are encouraged to ride their bikes or take Metro to the race. Metro stations will open at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning, and Two Wheel Valet will be providing bike parking services - just two of many initiatives event organizers undertake annually in their efforts to produce a more socially and environmentally responsible event. This year event organizers have applied for gold certification from the Council for Responsible Sports for their efforts. The Council offers independent verification of an event's positive social and environmental practices and benefits, looking specifically at initiatives in the categories of responsible planning and communications, procurement, resource management, access and equity, and community legacy.
Over 26,000 runners submitted applications to participate in the 2015 Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile and 5K Run-Walk, and the list of accepted runners represents all 50 states and 14 foreign countries. With a field limit of 15,000 established by the National Park Service and selected by lottery in December, not everyone who hoped to run will be able to participate in the only truly elite race to be run in our Nation's Capital.
Since 2002, the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile and 5K Run-Walk have raised over $7 million for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. The 2015 event will mark the 14th year of title sponsorship by Credit Union Miracle Day.
About the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile:
The Credit Union Cherry Blossom is known as "The Runner's Rite of Spring" in the Nation's Capital. 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. About one-third of the funds raised 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.
Credit Union Miracle Day, Inc., a consortium of credit unions and credit union suppliers, is the title sponsor of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run and 5K Run-Walk. PSCU is the lead financial partner of Credit Union Miracle Day, Inc. Supporting sponsors include New Balance, Gatorade, Gold's Gym, Navy Federal Credit Union, Larabar, BAE Systems, E-Trade, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, MarathonFoto and Potomac River Running.
The event is a proud member of the PRRO Circuit (www.PRRO.org), a five-race non-marathon prize money circuit with events in Utica, NY; San Juan, PR; Washington, DC; Spokane, WA and Atlanta, GA. The circuit is committed to a drug-free sport and engages USADA to conduct drug testing at all circuit events.
In addition to being sanctioned by USA Track & Field and the Road Runners Club of America, the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run has earned Silver certification from the Council For Responsible Sport for its many environmentally and socially responsible initiatives.
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