After 25-year drought, American men celebrate back-to-back victories in PRRO Circuit Race
April 2, 2017, Washington, DC: For the second year in a row, a naturalized American citizen has won the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run. Twenty-seven year-old Stanley Kebenei, from Oakland, California, won today's race in a time of 46:36. Twenty-one year-old Hiwot Gebrekidan of Ethiopia took the women's title in a time of 53:37. On a breezy, but otherwise perfect day for running by all of the major Washington, DC landmarks, record times eluded both Kebenei and Gebrekidan in the city's 45th "Runner's Rite of Spring," the second event on the 2016-17 Professional Road Running Organization (PRRO) Circuit.
Kebenei made a late-breaking move in the final quarter mile of the race to win. Kebenei, who was born in Kenya and became a U.S. citizen in 2014, bested Kenyan James Kibet - 46:35 to 46:39 - after trailing his rival for much of the tenth mile. Just as he did at last weekend's IAAF World Cross Country Championships, during the opening miles, Kebenei led the frontpack, but ultimately decided to let others press the pace instead.
Discussing his strategy in post-race interviews, Kibenei said: "If I go, these guys will finish me. I had to be smart. Sometimes you have to test the race; you want to know who is strong and who is ready to go."
By mile seven, the lead pack still consisted of 12 runners, including Kebenei, and it appeared to be anyone's race. Shortly after the leaders hit mile nine, Kibet made a big move, putting 10-yards of real estate between himself, Kebenei and the rest of the pack.
"I had to be smart," Kebenei told himself, "I knew for sure that I still had this race, but I had to be smart. I knew if I kick [closer to the end], I could out kick him."
Over the course of the final mile, Kebenei slowly crept up to Kibet, passing him decisively within sight of the finish line.
"It was a good day for me, and a good day for the United States, because America won," a jubilant Kebenei declared, adding "I'll be back next year."
Eight of the 12 runners who were in the lead pack at mile seven finished within 12 seconds of each other. Kebenei took home a total of $13,000 in prize money for his effort - $8,000 for the overall victory and $5,000 for being the first American - while Kibet won $4,000. The third place finisher was Ethiopian Birhan Nebebew-Tesfaye, who ran 46:42 to win $2,000. Rounding out the men's top-ten: Kenyans Evans Kurui, Philemon Cheboi, Dominic Korir and Edwin Rotich placed fourth through seventh in times of 46:43, 46:43, 46:45 and 46:46, winning $1,500, $1,000, $900 and $800, respectively; Christo Landry crossed the line in 46:48 to place eighth overall and second American, winning a total $3,200 ($700 and $2,500), while another American, Kiya Dandena, placed ninth in 46:58 to win $2,100 ($600 and $1,500); Kenyan Philip Langat also ran 46:58 to win $500 and finish 10th.
With developmental prize money being paid to the top-10 American finishers, the following men - in addition to Kebenei, Landry and Dandena - took home paychecks today: Luke Puskedra (47:57) won $1,000 as fourth American; Sean Keveren (48:23) won $800; top local runner from Arlington, VA, Ryan Mahalsky (48:26) won $600; Tim Young (48:29) won $400; Tyler McCandless (48:32) won $300; Eric Fernandez (48:40) won $200; and Nicholas Kipruto (49:16) won $200.
As close as the men's race was, the women's top-ten saw big gaps separate all but the fourth and fifth place runners. Gebrekidan threw down the gauntlet at seven miles, and ran away from the field to win $8,000. Last year's second place finisher, Ethiopian Buze Diriba, placed second again in a time of 53:52 to win $4,000. Rounding out the women's top-ten were: Kenyan Gladys Kipsoi (54:36) who won $2,000; the 2014 winner from Ethiopia, Mamitu Daska (54:45), who won $1,500; Karolina Nadolska, from Poland, who closely followed Daska in 54:48 to win $1,000; Ethiopian Firehiwot Dado Tufa, who won $900 for her 55:16 effort; first American Tara Welling (55:34), who took home a total of $5,800 ($800 for seventh place, $5,000 in developmental funds); Nancy Nzisa, from Kenya (55:57), who won $700; second American woman Hannah Davidson (55:59), who won $3,100 total ($600 and $2,500); and 10th overall and third American Susanna Sullivan (56:12), who won $2,000 ($500 and $1,500).
American developmental prize money was also paid to: Katie Kellner (57:27), in the amount of $1,000; Mary Dell (57:35), who won $800; Ashley Brasovan (57:41), who won $600; Nicolette Mateescu (58:02), who won $400; Katheryne Potter, who also ran 58:02 ($300); top local runner Julia Roman-Duval, from Columbia, MD, who won $200; and another local runner from Washington, DC, Kerry Allen (58:49), who took home $200.
Other notable finishers included 59-year-old Olympic Gold Medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won the 55-59 year-old age group in a time of 1:03:55, a new age group record; the women's winner of the first Cherry Blossom Run in 1973, Kathrine Switzer, who also won her age group (70-74) in a time of 1:30:31; 40-year-old 2004 Olympian Carrie Tollefson, yet another age group winner (40-44) in a time of 1:04:48; four-time winner, 70-year-old Bill Rodgers, who placed second in the 70-74 age group in 1:19:15; and 67-year-old Ben Beach, who has now finished every Cherry Blossom Run - 45 in all - this time running 1:34:18.
In addition to the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile, there was a 5K Run-Walk held today. Winners were 29-year-old Iber Gonzalez Vidals, from New York City (17:58), and 33-year-old Lisa Gallagher, from Washington, DC (21:15).
Complete, searchable results for both the 10-mile and 5K events are available at www.CherryBlossom.org.
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 marked 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 www.CherryBlossom.org.