Race organizers add $10,000 to American Record bonus pool at PRRO Circuit event
March 29, 2017, Washington, DC: Few of the tiny band of 126 runners who finished the "Cherry Blossom Invitational Run" around the Tidal Basin and Hains Point in Washington, DC on April 1, 1973 could have imagined what the event would grow into over the next 43 editions. With 295,583 total 10-mile finishers (138,170 women and 157,477 men) during that span, the event will surpass 300,000 total finishers in 2017. This year's event will celebrate all that has transpired over the years, as organizers have planned a Gala 45th running of the Runner's Rite of Spring on April 2, 2017, the second event on the Professional Road Running Organization's (PRRO) 2016-17 series of races.
In addition to an outstanding field of elite men and women, a number of luminaries will be on hand to celebrate the 45th edition, including Kathrine Switzer, the first women's winner; Bill Rodgers, winner of four in a row between 1978 and 1981; and Greg Meyer, whose winning time of 46:13 in 1983 is still the American 10-mile record. Switzer will use the race as a final tune-up before running the Boston Marathon on April 17th on the 50th anniversary of her legendary encounter with Jock Semple, who forcibly attempted to remove her from the race after she had secured a bib number under the name "K Switzer" at a time when women were banned from the race. And 1984 Olympic Marathon gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson and Carrie Tollefson, who competed in the 1500 meters in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, will both be competing for age group honors.
In the men's race, look for last year's fifth and eighth place finishers to be among the leaders this year: Kenyan Philemon Cheboi placed fifth in a time of 48:52, when windy, wintry conditions conspired against fast times; and countryman Philip Langat placed 8th in a time of 49:02. Langat has the fastest 10-mile personal best of all the men, 45:47, which he ran at the Tilburg 10-Mile in the Netherlands in 2012. Fellow Kenyans Edwin Rotich, who ran two sub-60 minute half marathons last year, and Kevin Kochei, who has been very active on the PRRO Circuit the past few years, are sure to push Cheboi and Langat from the start.
Christo Landry headlines the field of American men and, on a good day, could certainly make a run at Greg Meyer's American Record and the $10,000 American Record bonus that goes with it - payable in full to both men's and women's American Record setters this year, rather than being split as it would have been in years past if both records had been broken in the same race. Landry won the USA 10 Mile Championships here in 2014 in a time of 46:41, placing sixth overall, and placed ninth last year in 49:05. Other Americans to keep an eye on include Luke Puskedra, a 2:10 marathoner running his final tune-up before Boston; Stanley Kebenei, who placed 26th in the highly competitive IAAF World Cross Country Championships this past weekend, after leading the race in the first of five laps; Kiya Dandena, who set a personal best of 1:03:13 at the 2017 Aramco Houston Half Marathon in January; and Eric Fernandez, who set a personal best of 2:14:09 at the 2016 California International Marathon in Sacramento last December.
Among the women, 2014 Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile winner Mamitu Daska of Ethiopia and last year's second place finisher, Kenyan Buze Diriba, will likely lead the field. Daska ran 52:05 to win in 2014, while Diriba's winning time from last year's EQT Pittsburgh Ten Miler (51:38) is the 10th fastest all-time.
Tara Welling, who recently won the Shamrock Run 8K in her hometown of Portland, Oregon (27:43), and won the USA Half Marathon Championships in 2016 in a personal best time of 1:10:25, will face stiff competition from fellow Americans Susanna Sullivan and Heather Cappello. While Welling has not run the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile previously, Sullivan and Cappello have enjoyed past success here: Sullivan was fourth in the 2014 USA 10 Mile Championship and eighth overall (54:31), and fifth in the 2015 USA 10 Mile Championship in 51:44*; Cappello was sixth American last year (59:56), and seventh in both the 2014 USA 10 Mile Championships (54:31) and in 2015 (52:12*).
(* = Times for 2015 reflect a course that was shortened to 9.39 miles because of an accident on the course just prior to the start.)
All of this year's participants will receive special commemorative key chains, while men bettering Sam Bair's 1973 winning time of 51:22 and women beating Switzer's time of 71:19 will win mugs imprinted with "I would have won this race in 1973." (In 1997, for the 25th running, the same award was given to 24 men and 94 women.) The event will also provide the individual finishing in 4417th place, who will be the 300,000th all-time finisher of the event, with a special VIP package to the 2018 event. Finally, the event will also recognize Ben Beach, the only individual who has finished every edition of the race. Beach will join Switzer in Boston as he aims to finish his 50th consecutive Boston Marathon.
One other award has been significantly enhanced this year - the American Record bonus has doubled in amount. In 2015 race organizers introduced a $10,000 American Record bonus (fastest time beating Greg Meyer's U.S. 10-mile record of 46:13 or Janet Bawcom's U.S. women's-only record of 52:12, set at Cherry Blossom in 2014), which would have been split equally if both records had been broken in the same year. For 2017, an additional $10,000 has been added to the American Record bonus pool, meaning that each record breaker - male and female - will take home a $10,000 bonus.
Event Director Phil Stewart said: " We feel that our flat, fast course offers top Americans an excellent chance to set the American 10-mile record, and we are pleased to offer a substantial incentive for them to chase it down."
In addition to the American Record bonus, Cherry Blossom organizers will offer a $25,000 American purse. If an American man were to win the race outright and break the American record with a sub-46:00 time, he could earn as much as $24,000. Last year, Sam Chelanga became the first American man to win the race since 1990. If an American woman were to win the race this year and break the American record with a sub-52:00 time, she could also take home $24,000. The last American woman to win the race was Joan Nesbit in 1996.
The American record bonus and purse are part of the total open prize purse of $90,500, which includes equal payments to the top ten men and women finishers of all nationalities totaling $40,000, plus time bonuses of $1,000 and $750 available to the first two men and women to break 46 minutes and 52 minutes, respectively. The generous amount of open prize money should ensure a highly competitive race among the international and American athletes.
As in years past, there will be an advance start for the elite women - scheduled for 7:18 a.m. - providing them an opportunity to compete for records that will be recognized as coming from a women's-only race.
The Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run and 5K Run-Walk attracts some 16,000 participants on a course which starts and finishes on the Washington Memorial Grounds and passes by all of Washington DC's major memorials. The 45th running of the event is scheduled for Sunday, April 2, 2017, with the 10-mile starting at 7:30 a.m. and the 5K Run-Walk starting at 8:40 a.m. The Credit Union Cherry Blossom Kids' Run will move to a new time and location this year: Saturday, April 1 at 9:30 a.m. at the National Building Museum.
Over 27,000 runners submitted applications to participate in the 2017 Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile and 5K Run-Walk, and the list of accepted runners represents all 50 states and 14 foreign countries. The event is limited to 16,000 finishers by the national Park Service.
The 2017 event will mark the 16th year of title sponsorship by Credit Union Miracle Day. Since 2002, over $8 million has been raised for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.
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 North America. About one-third of the funds raised support Washington, DC's own Children's National ("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 in partnership with CUNA Mutual Group and PSCU, is the title sponsor of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run 5K Run-Walk and Kids' Run. Supporting sponsors include E-Trade, Gatorade, Gold's Gym, Mamma Lucia, MarathonFoto, MedStar Sports Medicine, Navy Federal Credit Union, Orrick, Potomac River Running, Suburban Solutions, Under Armour and the YMCA.
The event is a proud member of the PRRO Circuit (PRRO.org), a series of non-marathon prize money circuit with events in Tampa, FL; Washington, DC; Spokane, WA; Utica, NY; and Pittsburgh, PA. The circuit is committed to a drug-free sport and funds USADA to conduct drug testing at all circuit events. In 2017, the winning male and female at Cherry Blossom will earn the $10,000 PRRO Super Bonus if they go on to win the PRRO Championship at the EQT Pittsburgh Ten Miler in October 2017; if they place in the top 10 at the PRRO Championship, they will earn the PRRO Event Champion's 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 has earned Gold Level Inspire Certification from the Council For Responsible Sport in recognition of its legacy of commitment to sustainability and thoughtful resource management. To learn more, visit CherryBlossom.org.
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