Huge Weekend Ahead for Road Racing 
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2024 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, used with permission

(05-Apr) — The spring road racing season kicks off in earnest this weekend with dozens of quality events around the globe, including Sunday’s Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile in Washington, D.C, part of the PRRO Circuit, which will host the USA Track & Field 10 Mile Championships.  Race organizers recorded 16,714 finishers last year and expect a field of similar size for Sunday led by top Americans Rachel Smith and Hillary Bor.  Smith won the national 15-K road running title last month, and Bor is the defending USA champion at the Cherry Blossom.

“The U.S. Olympic Trials (marathon) set the stage for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom to welcome top American runners ready to compete for the USATF 10 Mile Championships,” said longtime event director Phil Stewart.  “Combine that dynamic with times being run by the international field, and the stage is set for an exciting and close competition.”

There will be significant prize money on the line.  A prize money purse of $74,600 is on offer (plus time bonuses), and the top USA finishers will receive $10,000.  The top finishers will receive $6,000, so should an American be the overall champion he or she would earn $16,000.  At last year’s race, Bor set a new USA record of 46:11 and earned a special $50,000 national record bonus to help celebrate the 50th edition of the race.  It was quite an accomplishment, given the cold and windy conditions.

“I came here to break the record, and the weather wasn’t going to stop me,” Bor told Race Results Weekly last April. “I’ve been working for it since October last year.”

Nearly 2300 miles to the west, the Carlsbad 5000 will be held for the 36th time in Southern California.  Race organizers have designed a new, record-eligible seaside course with spectacular Pacific Ocean views and are hoping for fast times.

“The best part is that it eliminates the train-track crossings,” said race ambassador Meb Keflezighi, the first athlete to win the Boston Marathon, TCS New York City Marathon, and an Olympic Marathon medal.  “Runners’ safety is always first and foremost to us. The trains have been on our minds. To have that safety issue resolved, it’s not a worry to us, which is huge.”

At the front of that race, which recorded nearly 6,000 finishers across all sections last year, will be defending champions Laura Galvan of Mexico and Edwin Kurgat of Kenya.  Galvan ran a national record 15:05 last year and dominated the race.  Kurgat ran 13:50 and won by a comfortable six seconds.  Keflezighi hopes for faster times on the new course (the event records are 13:00 by Sammy Kipketer of Kenya in 2000 and 14:46 by Meseret Defar of Ethiopia in 2006).

“It could be faster (than last year), especially with the crowd supporting the runners on an out-and-back course,” Keflezighi said.  “With that kind of energy, I think it’s very doable.”

Also in the USA will be the Cooper River Bridge Run, a massive 10-K in Charleston, South Carolina, with 22,253 finishers in 2023.  This race, which crosses the majestic Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, has a $57,500 prize money purse, with the overall race winners receiving $10,000 (top Americans get $3,000 and can double dip).

In Europe, there are several high-level events, including two of the world’s best half-marathons, the Prague Half-Marathon on Saturday and the Generali Berliner Halbmarathon.  Both races are World Athletics Elite Label events and part of the six-race SuperHalfs series, including half-marathons in Cardiff, Copenhagen, Lisbon, and Valencia.  The Prague race will have about 15,000 runners, while the Berlin event recorded 38,712 entries.  Both events boast top-class elite fields.  Prague has the reigning World Athletics half-marathon champion, Sebastian Sawe of Kenya, while Berlin also has the silver medalist from those championships, Daniel Ebenyo, of Kenya.

There will be two significant events in Paris.  The Asics Running Festival will take place on Friday and Saturday with 5-K and 10-K races. The 5-K has speedsters like Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia, the reigning world 5-K road running champion, and Caroline Nyaga of Kenya, who has a road PB of 14:35.  Also, the Schneider Electric Paris Marathon is set for Sunday.  The race, which will see the return of veteran Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya, recorded 50,782 finishers in 2023, making it the largest marathon in Europe.

Other significant road races include the CSOB Bratislava City Marathon in Slovakia, the Daegu Marathon in Korea, the Maratona Sao Paulo in Brazil, the Movistar Medio Maratón Villa de Madrid in Spain, Oberbank Linz Donau Marathon in Austria, SPAR Grand Prix Series 10-K in Namibia (women only), and the Wizz Air Milano City Marathon in Italy.

All of these events will be recapped in Monday’s Race Results Weekly, and the Cherry Blossom will be fully covered on Sunday.