- The Washington Times - Monday, May 7, 2007

Russian Tatiana Chulakh scored her third victory in as many weeks at the 24th running of the Sallie Mae 10K yesterday in West Potomac Park.

Even more impressive, David Chepkwony, who arrived in Chapel Hill, N.C., from his homeland Kenya on Friday, won his second 10-kilometer race in as many days.

Both Chulakh and Chepkwony made bold midrace surges to break from their competition and earn $500 on a windy morning for the more than 1,500 participants.

“It felt good, but it was a strong wind,” said the 24-year-old Chulakh, who trains nearby in Gaithersburg. “There were moments when I felt like I was running in place.”

Chulakh broke the finish tape in 34:08, slower than the 33:18 she posted in a victory on the downhill Pike’s Peek course last week. She also notched top honors at the George Washington Parkway 10-Miler two weeks ago.

The tailwind in the first two miles thrust Chulakh through a 5:08 opening mile, a second behind New York-based Ethiopian Atalelech Ketema. A 5:20 second mile put Chulakh slightly in the lead, with Ketema working hard to stay close.

But that would quickly change: Chulakh stepped up the pace and left Ketema in her wake.

“She was slowing down at 2 miles,” Chulakh said. That is where they rounded Hains Point up the channel side of East Potomac Park and turned into that stiff headwind.

Chulakh, preparing for Saturday’s Grand Rapids 25K in Michigan, put more and more distance on Ketema the rest of the way. The Ethiopian, who lived and frequently raced in the Washington area a couple of years ago, finished 31 seconds back. Mercy Cheburet, a 23-year-old Kenyan out of Chapel Hill, placed third in 35:58.

Chepkwony, too, said he was greatly affected by the wind, though his effort of 29:56 was just three seconds slower than his winning time at Saturday’s Apple Blossom 10K in Winchester, Va.

“It was very windy,” Chepkwony said.

Chepkwony took control yesterday at about the same point he jutted into the lead for good at Winchester. Content to let Washington-based Ethiopian Gurmessa Kumsa rule the early pace, Chepkwony waited until into the fourth mile to surge and break apart a pack of four.

He passed four miles in 19:16 with a three-second lead over Kumsa, who said he is still ailing from a sore right Achilles tendon. Chepkwony lengthened the margin to eight seconds in the next mile into the wind and 12 seconds by the finish.

Kumsa, meanwhile, got some revenge on Chapel Hill-based Kenyans Joseph Mutisya and Jacob Chamar, who beat him at the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach two months ago.

Adrian Fenty finished 27 seconds slower than he did here in 2005. But the D.C. mayor said he had two training sessions on the bicycle totaling 100 miles plus a three-mile race, all in the past week.

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