- The Washington Times - Monday, April 8, 2002

It was an accident that knocked Reuben Cheruiyot out of training last December, sidelining one of the world's greatest distance runners for two months.
It was no accident that Cheruiyot, in his first race since, ran away with the victory at the 30th running of the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Road Race yesterday at West Potomac Park in Washington.
The slender 27-year-old Kenyan, who was triumphant here in 2000, turned the tables on countryman John Korir, who last year beat Cheruiyot with a remarkable surge at the tape.
"I was in an auto accident in Nairobi in December, and my face hit the steering wheel," said Cheruiyot, still sporting a swollen lip, after earning the top prize of $5,000. "I was in the hospital for two weeks. I started training again in February. This is my first race back."
Cheruiyot's time of 47:13 was the slowest winning time since Brian Sheriff ran 47:43 in 1989 and 66 seconds slower than his winning time in 2000.
Luminita Talpos, running in Washington for the first time, made the best of her trip, grabbing the early lead with a torrid pace and holding on for a 52:50 win and the $5,000 first prize.
Some 7,000 finishers enjoyed perfect distance running conditions, with temperatures in the low 40s and no wind. It may have been a bit too cold for the Kenyans (who took eight of the top 12 spots in the men's division) and those who train in southern California.
Cheruiyot, for one, thought it was too cold. But he had one thing on his mind: vengeance for his narrow defeat to Korir last year. This year he was not going to let the race get down to the last stretch of pavement before the finish line.
The first two miles of the race were bizarre. The lead pack had two dozen men content to run slowly. Just 16 seconds behind them was a second pack, comprised mostly of women, including Talpos, who passed two miles in a blazing 10:09 as the course moved down Constitution Avenue toward the Lincoln Memorial.
There still were 11 men in the lead pack by the midway point, over the Memorial Bridge and up Rock Creek Parkway. No wonder the five-mile split was only 24:23.
After the turnaround in Rock Creek Park, the course cruised downhill and the pace quickened.
After seven miles, Cheruiyot made his move. "I felt very strong" with three miles remaining, he said. "That is why I left the guys."
It quickly became a race for second. Cheruiyot closed out his racing return with miles of 4:23, 4:27 and 4:34. Korir tried to cut the gap but came up short in 47:18, just one second ahead of Mexican Pablo Olmedo and 15 seconds ahead of Mexican Teodoro Vega.
Talpos, 29, slowed over the second half, but highly touted Ethiopian Teyba Erkasso, just 20 years old, could not catch the strong Romanian.
"I was hoping to be in the top three, but I was not thinking of first place," said Talpos, ninth in the 1999 World Half Marathon Championships and a veteran 2:31 marathoner. "After the eighth mile, I was leading, and I thought maybe I would win."
Marla Runyan, the 33-year-old legally blind Eugene, Ore., resident who is the only person to compete in the Paralympics and Olympics (ninth in the 2000 Olympic 1500 meters), was fifth yesterday in her longest race ever.
"The distance was fine," said Runyan, who ended in 53:37. "I was getting cold on the downhill. My arms were freezing. But I was really happy with my race. I like that it's not a sprint out of the gate. I'm excited about fifth."

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