Kenyans Breeze despite the Freeze

By Nearman, Steve | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 10, 2000 | Go to article overview
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Kenyans Breeze despite the Freeze

Nearman, Steve, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)

There were no cherry blossoms at the 28th running of the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run yesterday morning in West Potomac Park.

But there was just about everything else.

First, there was snow just an hour before the 8 a.m. race start. Then there were the freezing temperatures, before the 30 mph winds added to the chill.

There also was the traditional Kenyan runner sweep, this time with the men taking the first eight places and 10 of the top 12. The Kenyan women were not to be overshadowed, grabbing the top three spots and four out of the top five.

In all, the Kenyans, after cleaning up at last weekend's Cooper River Run in Charleston, S.C., went to the bank again here, earning $23,400 of the $28,000 in prize money.

To add to the excitement this year, for the 5,200 finishers who braved the nasty elements, race organizers conducted the first-ever "foot poll" during the race.

Using the ChampionChip technology with the quarter-sized transponder attached to each runner's shoe, the athletes could vote for their presidential preference - Democrat, Republican or Undecided/Other - by crossing the appropriate mat set up at the 9 1/4-mile point.

The results, with nearly 100 percent of the runners reporting: Democrats 2,269 votes, Republicans 1,432, and Undecided/Other 1,426.

Nobody knows how the Kenyans voted - nor anybody else in the race for that matter - but they did run fairly fast considering the conditions.

In the end, it was Reuben Cheruiyot who broke the tape first.

"The weather is too cold," said the 26-year-old Cheruiyot of Fire who trains in Denver and took home $5,000 for 46 minutes and 7 seconds of work. "It is my fastest time to run 10 miles. With three miles to go, I was still strong. That is why I finished well."

Cheruiyot said he was aided by his strong race three weeks ago in San Diego, when he passed through the first mile of the 5-kilometer race in 4:00.6.

"The 4:33 pace here today seemed slow compared to that," he said.

Joseph Kimani, fifth here last year, and first-timer John Korir also ran in the six-pack of runners who broke away from the field by the midway point in Rock Creek Park. Kimani ran 46:10 and Korir cruised in at 46:19.

Minutes later, the Kenyan women sprinted home, led by the late charge of Teresa Wanjiku.

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