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Posted: March 31, 2016:  

Athletics: 44th Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Field Features Past Champion, Fast Challengers and American Heroes

Three-time Champion Lineth Chepkurui Joins Americans Meb Keflezighi and Joan Benoit Samuelson as Headliners for PRRO Circuit Race on April 3rd

March 31, 2016, Washington, DC: Lineth Chepkurui has enjoyed great success in past Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Runs: Chepkurui won the women's race in 2008, 2009 and 2010 - setting a personal best of 51:51 in 2010 - and placed fifth last year. While she is expected to be in the hunt for victory again this year at the third stop on the 2015-16 PRRO Circuit, she will have plenty of competition from a number of other women who have run well here in recent years. Philip Langat, who was seventh and is the highest placing returnee from last year's men's race, will also face a formidable field of challengers.

Not to be overshadowed, however, are American masters runners Meb Keflezighi and Joan Benoit Samuelson. Keflezighi recently placed second in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials to make his fourth U.S. Olympic Team in a time of 2:12:12. Meb is the only athlete in history to win the New York City Marathon (2009), the Boston Marathon (2014) and an Olympic Medal (silver in the 2004 marathon in Athens). Of course Joanie has an Olympic Medal of her own - gold from the inaugural women's Olympic Marathon in Los Angeles in 1984 - as well as marathon victories in Boston and Chicago, among others, setting an American record for the distance with a time of 2:21:21 in Chicago in 1985.

This will be Samuelson's fourth Cherry Blossom Run, and she has placed first in her age group each time; she ran 1:00:52 in 2010 and 1:02:27 in 2012, in addition to her 2015 effort of 58:50 for 9.39 miles, which projects to 1:02:40 for 10 miles. Keflezighi has never run a competitive 10-mile race, and will not be running competitively (at least by his standards) on Sunday.

Instead, Meb will run the 10 mile as a tempo run as part of his initial training for the Rio Olympic Marathon after qualifying for his fourth U.S. Olympic Team in Los Angeles on February 13. Meb will join the 6:00 Gold's Gym pace group and invites his fellow runners to "break an hour with Meb."

Event Director Phil Stewart said, "This is a great opportunity for many of our seeded and yellow corral participants to run with an inspirational runner in their attempt to better the elusive 60-minute barrier. I expect to see a large posse crossing the line with Meb, many with smiles on their faces after setting new personal records."

Among the women, expect to see Ethiopian Balaynesh Oljira up front with Chepkurui. Oljira placed second here in 2014 in a time of 52:49. Her countrywomen include Etaferahu Temesgen, who was seventh in the 2014 race in 54:30, and Buze Deriba, winner of five races last year, ranging from 8K to the half marathon. Chepkurui's Kenyan compatriots include Veronica Maina, Sarah Kiptoo and Veronicah Nyaruai.

Wendy Thomas and Heather Cappello are the likely favorites among American women. Thomas recently competed in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, running 2:40:39 for 17th place on a very hot day in Los Angeles. Thomas has run 2:32:49 for the marathon and 1:12:29 for the half. Cappello has run the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile the past three years, placing as high as 11th overall in 2014 in a time of 54:40.

As in years past, there will be an advance start for the elite women, providing 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 3, 2016, 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.

At the front of the men's race, Langat will be challenged by countrymen Silas Kipruto and Nelson Oyugi. Kipruto has twice broken the coveted one-hour mark for the half marathon, while Oyugi has a personal best of 45:56 for 10 miles and has run 1:01:53 for 13.1 miles. Hot on their heels will be Ethiopians Terefe Debela, with a personal best for 15K of 44:25, Tolosa Gedefa, who placed fifth here in 2014 in a personal best time of 46:38, and Beleta Assefa, winner of the BolderBOULDER 10K last year.

In addition to Keflezighi, other top Americans include Christo Landry, who placed sixth here in 2014 in a personal best of 46:41, and Sam Chelenga, who ran a personal best of 46:47 in the 2015 USA 10 Mile Championships in the Twin Cities. Landry and Chelenga will both be chasing Greg Meyer's American record of 46:13, set here in 1983.

Ben Beach will be running Cherry Blossom for the 44th 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. Beach's 10-mile best of 53:16 was recorded in the 1985 race.

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 look forward to paying them every year. Even last year, when the race was shortened by an unfortunate pre-race accident, we paid time bonuses based on projected 10-mile finish times to women's winner Mary Wacera and runner-up Cynthia Jeretich Limo for their projected sub-52:00 efforts. 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."

In addition to the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile and 5K Run-Walk races, there will also be a Kids' 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. Last year the event was awarded gold certification from the Council for Responsible Sports for their efforts. The Council's biennial certification 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 2016 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 $7.5 million for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. The 2016 event will mark the 15th 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 Cabot Creamery Cooperative, E-Trade, Gatorade, Gold's Gym, MarathonFoto, MedStar Sports Medicine, Navy Federal Credit Union, New Balance, Potomac River Running and Suburban Solutions Moving Company.

The event is a proud member of the PRRO Circuit (, a five-race non-marathon prize money circuit with events in Utica, NY; San Juan, PR; Washington, DC; Spokane, WA; and Pittsburgh, PA. The circuit is committed to a drug-free sport and funds USADA to conduct drug testing at all circuit events. The winning male and female at Cherry Blossom are eligible for the $10,000 PRRO Super Bonus if they win the PRRO Championship presented by the Boilermaker Road Race on July 10, 2016; if they place in the top 10 at the PRRO Championship, they will earn the PRRO Event Champions' bonus of $1,500.

In addition to being sanctioned by USA Track & Field and the Road Runners Club of America, the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run recently earned Gold certification from the Council for Responsible Sport for its many environmentally and socially responsible initiatives.

In addition to being sanctioned by USA Track & Field and the Road Runners Club of America, the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run recently earned Gold certification from the Council For Responsible Sport for its many environmentally and socially responsible initiatives.

About America’s Credit Unions:

Credit unions provide consumers choices for financial services such as checking accounts, investments and loans of all kinds including mortgages. Funds are federally insured, but unlike banks, there are no stockholders at credit unions. Earnings are returned to member-owners in the form of lower loan rates, higher savings rates, low or no-fee products and services. The credit union philosophy of placing members’ needs first is why more than 104 million Americans do their banking at one of America’s 6,300 credit unions. Credit unions are for everyone– no matter where you live, there is a credit union to meet your needs.

To find a credit union near you visit: or

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