For Immediate Release

1 March 2012

CONTACTS: (Please do not publish these numbers. THE NUMBER FOR PUBLICATION IS THE RACE HOTLINE AT 301-320-3350):

Keith Peters, Media Coordinator
307-690-6803 or kp@kpcomm.biz

Frank McNally, Media Coordinator
703-801-2566 or mcnallyf@si.edu

Website: www.cherryblossom.org

40th Running of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run Highlights Important Luminaries in the Event’s History

From modest start in 1973, Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run has become the Runner’s Rite of Spring® in our nation’s capital, attracting participants from all 50 states and five countries to this year’s event.

March 1, 2012, Washington, DC: Bethesda, Maryland runner Ben Beach was one of 141 finishers in the inaugural Cherry Blossom Run in 1973. He has since completed all 39 editions of the race, and is on track to bring his total Cherry Blossom racing miles to 400 when he lines up on the starting line of the 40th running of the event on April 1, 2012. Who better to offer a bit of perspective on what the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run and 5K Run-Walk means to the expected 15,000 participants in this year’s events?

“This great race is the perfect way to celebrate the arrival of the best six months of the year and the beauty of our nation’s capital,” said Ben Beach. “I also appreciate how well organized the race is and, in recent years, the efforts made to set a good environmental example.”

While Beach is the only runner to have run every Cherry Blossom Run, there are a few other frequent and notable past finishers returning to run this year. Bill Rodgers has run the race 21 times, winning four straight titles from 1978-1981, and winning his age group 11 different times. Greg Meyer won the race in 1983, and still holds the American Record for ten miles at 46:13, which he set that day; this will be Greg’s fourth Cherry Blossom Run. Joan Benoit Samuelson first ran the race in 2010, winning her age group at 52 years old in a time of 1:00:52.

Race founder Gar Williams will be participating in race activities this year, including a clinic on the history of the race at the Health and Fitness Expo on Saturday, March 31 at the National Building Museum. Joining Gar at that clinic will be early race directors Ed Murray and Jeff Darman.

In addition, the race will be feting 39-year-old Gerri Baer of Rockville, MD. Baer was born on April 1, 1973 – the exact date of the first running of the event. Baer and five of her running buddies received guaranteed entries to the race.

Of course, the elite field for the 40th running of the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile will be every bit as competitive as in years past. Early entrants include Claire Hallissey from Great Britain, who was fifth in the women’s race last year, and set her ten mile personal best of 54:47 while placing 8th in 2010; Kristin Fryburg-Zaitz, from Broomfield, Colorado, who placed 14th in 2009; and American first-timers Patrick Rizzo, Ian Burrell, and Carlos Trujillo, all three of whom raced in January’s U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston, placing 13th, 15th and 58th respectively.

A live race-day stream will be produced by RunnerSpace.com, allowing spectators to view the entire race from the start/finish area, while online viewers can access the stream from the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Website.

These days, the Runner’s Rite of Spring® isn’t confined to our nation’s capital. Two Credit Union FREEDOM Ten Mile Runs will be held, one on March 31 at the U.S. Army Garrison in Wiesbaden, Germany; the other on April 1 at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. Last year, over 470 runners and 70 volunteers participated in the 10-mile run at Camp Arifjan; this will be the first FREEDOM Run held at the U.S. Army Garrison in Wiesbaden, and is expected to draw 350 runners.

The Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile serves as the only world-class road race in the Nation’s Capital, and will offer $46,000 in prize money and time incentives to elite athletes from around the world. The top male and female athletes will earn checks for $7,500 each.

This year’s event takes place on the second weekend of the National Cherry Blossom Festival®, the nation's greatest springtime celebration. The 2012 Festival, March 20 – April 27, includes five spectacular weeks of events featuring diverse and creative programming promoting traditional and contemporary arts and culture, natural beauty, and community spirit. The 2012 Festival commemorates the 100th anniversary of the gift of the cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the United States and Japan.

About the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile:

The Credit Union Cherry Blossom is known as “The Runner’s Rite of Spring®.” The staging area for the event is on the Washington Monument Grounds and the course passes in sight of all of the major Washington, DC Memorials. The event serves as a fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a consortium of 170 premier children’s hospitals across the United States. Since the Credit Unions became the title sponsor in 2002, over $5 million dollars has been raised through donations and fundraising on the part of the runners and individual sponsoring Credit Unions and partners. About one-third of these funds support Washington, DC’s own Children’s National Medical Center (“Children’s Hospital”). The event also funds two $5,000 Road Runners Club of America “Roads Scholar” grants designed to support up-and-coming U.S. distance running talent.

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