A new race record in the men’s competition and a spirited battle for the women’s title highlighted last week’s 39th annual Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run.
Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa shook off last year’s heartbreaking runner-up finish with a time of 45 minutes, 36 seconds. His time broke the old race record of 45:38, which had stood for 16 years since Ismael Kirui posted his then-word record time. Meanwhile, Julliah Tinega outlasted Risper Gesabwa in the women’s event, besting her fellow Kenyan by a single second with a winning time of 54:02.
Desisa lost a contentious final sprint in 2010 to finish one second behind Stephen Tum. But the 21-year-old would not be denied in 2011. He crossed the finish line six seconds ahead of second-place Allan Kiprono and a full 51 seconds ahead of Ridouane Harroufi, the two-time event champion who took third.
Each year, the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten-Mile Run in Washington, D.C., brings together credit unions from across the country with a shared vision of fundraising and helping children. The proceeds from this event support the 170 children’s hospitals that belong to the Children's Miracle Network, a nonprofit international organization that helps to treat millions of children across the U.S. and Canada.
This year’s April 3 event on the Washington Monument Grounds once again featured a notable cast in quest of a total purse of $45,000, the largest in the event’s history.
"Last year I was happy. Today I’m even more happy to be the winner," Desisa said. "The weather was good today. I knew what the [race] record was and I wanted to beat that time."
Tinega also avenged a runner-up finish from last year. But unlike Desisa, the 25-year-old was a distant second at the 2010 Cherry Blossom by 48 seconds to Lineth Chepkurui. Tinega, Gesabwa and Ethiopian Tgist Tufa broke free from the pack for good at about the eight-mile mark before the two Kenyans pulled away in the final half mile.
The top American male runner was Lucas Meyer, who placed 13th with a time of 48:26. Kelly Jaske, a lawyer from Portland, Ore., and a former Washington, D.C. resident, was the best American female (57:06) for the second year in a row.