Competitive Field For Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run

Competitive Field For Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run

Race organizers of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run announced 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.

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.

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.

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.