For Immediate Release

28 March 2005

CONTACTS: (Please do not publish these numbers.  THE NUMBER FOR PUBLICATION IS THE RACE HOTLINE AT 301-320-3350):

Frank McNally
Media Coordinator
703-801-2566 (cell); 703 572 4040 (d); 540-338-5648 (e)


Phil Stewart
Event Director
301-320-6865 (d); 301-802-2194 (cell)

For race day media credentials: (Contact Frank McNally for media credentials. Space on media truck is limited, so call to ensure seating. TV crews should call in advance to secure positioning for trucks on race morning.)

Two John Korirs Meet; Sally Barsosio Favorite in Women’s Race

WASHINGTON, DC – Two runners named John Korir – one with deep credentials as one of the finest road runners in the world over the last five years and the other with fast times on the track – will square off for the first time in a U.S. road race at the 33rd running of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom on April 3rd in West Potomac Park. 

John Kipsang Korir, 29, picked up two wins at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile (’01 and ’03) during a four-year period which netted him 16 major road race titles going back to 2001. In late February he won the highly-competitive World’s Best 10k in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 27:56 on a hot, windy day.

John Cheruiyot Korir, 23, has blazing track times of 26:52.87 for 10,000-meters and 13:09.58 for 5,000 meters along with 5th place finishes in the 2000 and 6th place in the 2004 Olympic 10,000 meter track races. He made is U.S. road racing debut at the Crescent City Classic in New Orleans on March 26, placing 2nd in 27:49.

Because of their differing specialties, the two have  raced head to head infrequently. They have split the most recent two match-ups with John K. Korir winning at the Lisbon (POR) Half Marathon on March 24, 2002 and John C. Korir winning a 12k cross country race in Kenya on Feb. 22, 2003.

A host of other fast Kenyans are in the talent-rich field including Wilberforce Talel, who set a Commonwealth Games 10,000-meters record in 2002; Paul Koech who has run 44:45 for 10 miles on an aided course; Gilbert Okari, who set a course record at the Beach to Beacon 10k and placed 3rd here in 2003; and Nelson Ndereba, who was the runner-up here last year. Also in the field is Reuben Cheruiyot, who won the 2000 race and placed second twice in 2001 and 2003 in close finishes with John K. Korir, but was relatively quiet during 2004. Young Kenyan Ernest Meli Kimeli also could be in the mix. The 20-year-old was 3rd in last year’s IAAF World Junior Cross Country Championships and placed 2nd in the Belfast International Cross Country meet earlier this year.

For the second year, two Japanese runners from the Himeji 10-mile, the sister race of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile in Japan, hope to break up the Kenyan juggernaut. Fastest of this duo is Kazuo Ietani, who placed seventh last year in 49:14 but lowered his time to a swift 46:25 in finishing 5th at this year’s Himeji race. Teammate Michinori Takano recently ran a quick 1:02:56 half marathon. Rounding out the international portion of the men’s field are Australian Andrew Letherby (2:12:45 marathon), and Columbian William Naranjo, who finished a surprising 4th last year.

The female favorite Sally Barsosio, also from Kenya, is off to an impressive year with a win at the Azalea Trail 10k in 32:28, and a 3rd place finish at the Crescent City Classic in 32:08 during March. Barsosio combines both road running and track excellence with track PRs of 31:15.38 at 10,000-meters and 14:46.71 at 5,000-meters. Russian Alevtina Ivanova should prove to be Barsosio’s toughest competition. After finishing 10th at the 2005 IAAF World Cross Country short course event, Ivanova finished just 28-seconds and two places behind Barsosio at the Crescent City Classic. The women’s field features three solid Romanian performers, Luminita Talpos, the 2002 women’s winner (52:50), along with Nuta Olaru, a 2:24 marathoner who was 4th in 2000, and Aurica Buia, 8th last year.

The top American in the men’s field is Karl Savage of Ridley, PA. Local runners Heather Hanscom, winner of the 2003 Marine Corps Marathon and sixth place finisher at the 2004 Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials, and Turena Johnson Lane, a 2004 RRCA Roads Scholar, are the top U.S. women in the field.

The elite runners will compete for a total purse of $31,000, the event’s largest ever, with $6,000 going to the top male and top female finisher. The event is the only world-class running event in Washington and is part of the Professional Road Running Organization circuit.

The event, which filled its 10,000-runner field in a matter of days last December, draws runners of all abilities to participate in what is known as “The Runner’s Rite of Spring” in the Nation’s Capital. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Senator Max Baucus and Rep. Jim Marshall lead the nation’s lawmakers taking part. The popular, flat-and-fast course starts and finishes in West Potomac Park in sight of the cherry trees at the Tidal Basin, features and an out-and-back crossing of Memorial Bridge, and an out-and-back leg along Rock Creek Pkwy. Metro opens an hour early at 6 a.m. to facilitate getting to the course. 

This year’s charity recipient is the Children’s Miracle Network, which will receive a donation of over $400,000. This will bring the total charitable contributions to over $1 million dollars since the Credit Union Miracle Day Committee became the sponsor in 2002. The event also funds two $5,000 grants for developing U.S. distance runners as part of the Road Runners Club of America Roads Scholar program.

The Credit Union Miracle Day Inc. is a partnership of Credit Unions and affiliated organizations. More than 500 Credit Union members have volunteered and over 4,500 entrants are Credit Union members.

Supporting sponsors include Gatorade, Navy Federal Credit Union, and Metro Run & Walk.

Entries for the 10-mile are closed.

The Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run is part of the 2005 National Cherry Blossom Festival from March 26 to April 10. The race will be televised on local ABC affiliate WJLA in a half-hour special from 12 noon – 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 9th and in a half-hour special on the Outdoor Life Network.

For additional information visit www.cherryblossom.org, send an e-mail to race_director@cherryblossom.org, or contact the race hotline at 301-320-3350.



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Rev: 29 March 2005
Cherry Blossom, Inc.