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Lilac Bloomsday Association’s mission statement: To promote national and international sports competition and fitness education for the civic betterment, social improvement, and physical well-being of the general public.

Wangai and Ivanova are surprise winners in the 28th Lilac Bloomsday Run

May 2, 2004

Spokane, WA—Pre-race predictions focused on 2002 Bloomsday champion James Koskei and up-and-comer Nelson Kiplagat Birgen, but in the end it was another Kenyan, Simon Wangai, who claimed the champion’s title and $7,000 in prize money in the 28th running of the Lilac Bloomsday Run. And while Wangai was upsetting predictions in the men’s race, Russian Albina Ivanova was pulling a similar surprise in the women’s division, as she outdueled Sally Barsosio of Kenya for a 39:22 victory, the 10th fastest women’s time in Bloomsday history.

With the weather warm and breezy, conditions for racing were slightly less than ideal, but that didn’t stop Wangai and Samuel Ndereba from breaking early from the pack in a heated matchup. That two-man duel proved too much for Ndereba, though, and as the two headed up “Doomsday Hill” at the 5-mile mark Wangai broke away. By the top Wangai had the race in control, and he continued to build on his lead over the final miles of the race, eventually posting a 34:59 victory. Ndereba gamely held on to second until the final 100 meters, when he was passed by Koskei and Birgen. John Itati claimed the fifth spot, with American Matt Thull of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, breaking up the Kenyan pack with a solid sixth place showing.

In the women’s race, Barsosio took the lead near the three-mile mark and seemed to be on the way to her first Bloomsday victory, but Ivanova proved tough to shake. Barsosio maintained her lead until the base of Doomsday Hill, when Ivanova found a new gear that took her past Barsosio at the top of the climb. Ivanova continued to build on her margin to the finish, while Barsosio held on for second. Russians Alevtina Ivanova and Victoria Klimina took the next two spots, with Americans Sylvia Mosqueda and Colleen De Reuck in fifth and sixth. De Reuck also claimed the masters title, with Russians Firaya Sultanova-Zhdanova and Ramilia Burangulova taking second and third in that division.

In men’s masters competition it was an American sweep, as Danny Gonzalez of Mountain View, California, upset favorite Dennis Simonaitis of Draper, Utah, by sixteen seconds, with Danny Martinez of Alhambra, California in third.

In the wheelchair race, Saul Mendoza of Mexico made a breakaway move on “Tombstone Hill” near the three-mile mark, dropping 2004 Boston Marathon winner Ernst Van Dyk and Canadian Kelly Smith. Mendoza went on to post his seventh Bloomsday victory in 25:30, just four seconds shy of his course record. Ariadne Hernandez of Mexico easily won the women’s division, while Canadians Steve Ellefson and Clayton Gerein captured the masters and T-1 Quad titles. Jimbo Boyd of Snellville, Georgia, was the T-1 champion, while Chris Taylor of Spokane, won Bloomsday’s inaugural Junior Division.

Over 40,000 runners, joggers and walkers took part in this year’s Bloomsday Run. Open male and female Bloomsday winners—Simon Wangai and Albina Ivanova—will be invited to the PRRO Race of Champions at the Peachtree Road Race on July 4 in Atlanta. Full results of this year’s Lilac Bloomsday Run will be available this week on the event’s website:

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