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Joan Benoit Samuelson to Run Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile

WASHINGTON—Joan Benoit Samuelson has earned just about every running credential possible in her long and storied running career including an Olympic gold medal in the first Women’s Olympic Marathon held in 1984 at the Los Angeles Olympics, two Boston Marathon titles (1979 and 1983), and numerous world and American records. Two years ago, at age 50, Samuelson set the American 50-59 women’s record when she finished the 2008 Women’s Olympic Trials Marathon in 2:49:08. Making her first appearance at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile in Washington, DC on Sunday, April 11, Samuelson has her sights set on the U.S. Women’s age 50-59 10-mile record of 1:02:01 set by S. Rae Baymiller in Flint, MI on August 27, 1994. Samuelson will give a clinic at the Health and Fitness Expo at the National Building Museum on Saturday, April 10. She will address the childhood obesity crisis in the United States and will sign autographs after her talk.

Two-time defending champion Lineth Chepkurui is returning and will attempt to become the first female athlete to win the event three times in a row since Julie Shea in 1975-1977. She will be joined by Sally Meyerhoff, who finished 7th overall here last year and set the American Women’s-only 10 mile record of 54:38. Organizers are expecting additional commitments from many of the world’s finest road racers in the next several weeks for what is the Washington, DC area’s only world-class running event. This year’s event offers over $42,000 in prize money, the largest purse in the event’s history. The top 2 men finishing under 46:00 and top 2 women finishing under 52:00 will receive an additional $750 time bonus. For the first time, the event will offer bonuses of $1,000, $500 and $250 to the top three American men and women who place among the top 15 finishers overall. In addition, the event supports American runners by making a $10,000 donation to the Road Runners Club of America’s “Road Scholars” program, which provides much-needed support for up-and-coming American distance running talent. Showing its commitment to keeping the sport drug free, the event funds drug testing of the elite athletes under the auspices of the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

The event, which starts with the women’s elite start at 7:30 A.M., serves as the Road Runners Club of America’s National 10 Mile championship. The top male and female finishers in the open, Masters (40-49) and GrandMasters (50-59) will be crowned as 2010 RRCA National Champions.

Behind the elite athletes will come a colorful spectacle of 15,000 additional starters in what is known as “The Runner’s Rite of Spring®” in the Nation’s Capital. The race starts and finishes on the Washington Monument Grounds and passes by the fabled Japanese cherry trees surrounding the Tidal Basin and in East Potomac Park.

The sponsoring Credit Unions hope to surpass $4 million dollars raised for the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) since becoming the title sponsor in 2002. CMN is a national consortium of 170 children’s hospitals across the U.S. Funds raised in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area go to the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. Funds raised from outside the Metropolitan area go to CMN affiliates in the home states of the participating Credit Unions. Credit Union Miracle Day recently announced an extension of its sponsorship through 2016, showing the Credit Unions’ commitment both to the runners in the event and to helping sick children across the country.

Entries to the race closed out in December when over 27,000 people applied in a lottery for the 15,000 race day slots. With a large number of runners and spectators expected, Metro will begin its Sunday operations two hours early—at 5 a.m. on race day.  The Smithsonian Metro stop (Orange and Blue lines) is conveniently located only ¼ mile from the start and finish lines.

The course crosses Memorial Bridge in the first two miles, continues on an out-and-back stretch on Rock Creek Parkway to just past the Kennedy Center, loops the Tidal Basin and circles Hains Point between miles 6 and 9. The entire course is within 2.2 miles of the start-finish line, making it a particularly spectator-friendly layout. In addition to the 10-mile run, there will be a 5K Run-Walk (also closed) and a 1K Kids Run. Spectators are invited to see all the action starting with the elite women’s start at 7:30 a.m. and the 10-mile mass wave start at 7:40 a.m.

WJLA ABC Channel 7 and NewsChannel 8 will broadcast a 30-minute delayed broadcast of the event over the weekend of April 17 and 18.

The event is part of the Professional Road Running Organization Circuit and the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual two-week, citywide event celebrating spring.  The 2010 Festival extends from March 27 through April 11. It features daily cultural performances, sporting events, arts and crafts, demonstrations and other special events.  The National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the 98th anniversary of the gift of the cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the citizens of the United States and Japan.

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