For Immediate ReleaseApril 8, 2001
Frank McNally, Media Coordinator (Contact for race day MEDIA CREDENTIALS, to secure positions on the LEAD MEDIA VEHICLE, for POST-RACE B-roll, and RESULTS)
Kenyans Duel to the Finish at Nortel Networks Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run
Washington, DC Kenyan John Korir won the 29th annual Nortel Networks Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run on Sunday morning, outlasting countryman, and defending champion, Reuben Cheruiyot in the closest 1-2 finish in the history of the men's race. Korir finished in 46:12, just one second ahead of Cheruiyot's time of 46:13. South African Elana Meyer headed the woman's field, winning with a time of 52:16, almost a full minute in front of second-place runner Lydia Grigorieva of Russia. Conditions were chilly and overcast for this years' event, but 6,579 runners were on hand to participate.
"I felt good today," Korir said afterwards. "[Reuben] has a better final kick than me, but I have a lot of endurance and I was able to hold on and win in the end. I am just so happy for this victory."
Leonid Shvetsov of Russia ran out to the early lead in the race, but was quickly overtaken by Morocco's El Arbi Khattabi. Khattabi took the lead just before the first mile marker and led almost all the way to the eight-mile mark, extending his lead to as much as twenty seconds over a group of Kenyans that included Korir and Cheruiyot. The two top-finishers passed Khattabi just before the runners reached eight miles, and pulled away from the rest of the pack, battling with each other down the stretch. Kenyans Evans Rutto, Enock Mitei, and Felix Limo finished third through fifth respectively. Khattabi ended up in sixth. Seven of the races' top ten finishers were Kenyans. Chris Graff was the American with the best time. Graff finished the race at 47:22, good for tenth place. This year also marked the first appearance of elite Japanese runners in the field. Toshihiro Iwasa finished in 27th place.
On the woman's side, Meyer won handily over Grigorieva. Ethiopia's Eyerusalem Kuma took third place and Milena Glusac of Fallbrook, California finished fourth, tops among American women. 1999 champion, and 2000 runner-up, Jane Omoro of Kenya was seventh.
Meyer was pleased with her performance. "I'm so happy," she said. "It's a great race and a wonderful course. It was fun to be out there today." This year marks the first time Meyer has competed in the Nortel Networks Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run. "I've always wanted to run in this race," she said. "I would not have minded if my time had been a bit faster, but I ran a race last week so I was not as fresh as I would be normally."
A record amount of $28,500 in prize money was allocated to the winners. Also, proceeds from the race will be used to fund two $4000 Road Scholars grants given by the Road Runners Club of America to support young, promising American distance runners. Two former grant recipients, Nick Rogers and Deena Drossin, ran for the United States in the Sydney Olympics in 2000. 62 year old Washington, D.C. native Philip Cephas finished first in the Wheel-Chair Division.
Information is available by calling the race hotline, 301-320-3350 or at the website at www.cherryblossom.org.
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