April 30, 2014—Last year's Bloomsday champion, Belete Assefa, won't be returning this spring, but 2011 champion Simon Ndirangu will, and so will 2012 winner Allan Kiprono, together with a talented group of international stars who have their sights set on the Bloomsday crown. And in the women's race, last year's champion Buzunesh Deba will pass on defending her crown as she recovers from a blistering 2:19:59 runner up performance at the recent Boston Marathon. Her absence will open the way for a new champion from among a talented women's field, one of the strongest in Bloomsday history.
Kiprono and Ndirangu own two of the fastest times ever run on the Bloomsday course, but it may well be a newcomer, Ethiopian Mosinet Geremew, who escapes the pack and races to victory on Sunday. Geremew, only 22 years old, was the surprise winner of last summer's AJC Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, and has a 59:54 half marathon to his credit this year. If he wins Bloomsday, he will become only the second Ethiopian male to win here, following Assefa's victory in 2013.
"Assefa won a thrilling duel in the final half mile of last year's race," said Elite Athlete Coordinator Jon Neill. "We may very well see Geremew run an equally impressive run down the stretch to put his country back on the winner's stage."
Top Americans will be Aaron Braun and Shadrack Biwott. Braun is the 2013 US Road Racing Champion, and Biwott recently represented the US at the World Half Marathon Championships.
In the women's contest, American Janet Cherobon-Bawcom was considered to be a favorite given her second place showing in 2012 and a recent American record set at the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile, but she has had to withdraw due to a foot injury sustained in a recent workout. Even so, the women’s race promises to be hotly contested, with 2014 World's Best 10K champion Mary Wacera of Kenya, and three-time Bloomsday champion Lineth Chepkurui, who won last summer's AJC Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, two of the leading contenders.
"I'm quite pleased that Lineth will be racing Bloomsday," said Neill. "Lineth ran the fastest 12K in history when she won here in 2010, and she obviously knows the course better than anyone in the field."
That field is one of the deepest in recent years, and includes Kenyan Risper Gesabwa, Ethiopians Etalemahu Habtewold and Gelete Burka, Rkia El Moukim of Morocco, and Americans Blake Russell and Mattie Suver.
In the elite wheelchair division, two time Bloomsday champion Scott Parson will duel LA Marathon champion Josh George, 2013 Bloomsday runnerup Aaron Pike, and 8-time Bloomsday winner Craig Blanchette. For the women, Susannah Scaroni, who won here last year and recently set a 13-minute personal best in finishing third at the Boston Marathon, will face he biggest competition from 6-time champion Amanda McGrory. Nine-time quad winner Santiago Sanz and Raymond Martin, who scored four gold medals in the London Paralympics, will battle in the 52 category.
Nearly $100,000 in prize money is offered in the 2014 Lilac Bloomsday Run, including a $10,000 purse ($5,000 - $2,500 - $1,250 - $750 - $500) for the top male and female Americans who finish in the top 25. The Lilac Bloomsday Run is the fourth race in the Professional Road Running Organization (PRRO) series of major U.S. road races. Drug testing of top competitors is conducted at all PRRO Circuit events in partnership with the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
A field of nearly 50,000 runners, joggers and walkers are expected to have entered by the time registration closes on Saturday evening. Procrastinators will have until 6:30 on Saturday to sign up.
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