- The Washington Times - Monday, April 4, 2005

The Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run always has served as the first major area spring road race and as a last serious tuneup for the Boston Marathon.

And that could be a good omen for 34-year-old Nuta Olaru. The Romanian dominated the women’s field in the 33rd running yesterday, mastering bone-chilling 30 mph winds and clocking an impressive time of 52:01. In her first race of the season, Olaru garnered $6,000 for the win with the fourth-fastest time in race history as she prepares to run in Boston on April 18.

The winner in Boston also has won the Cherry Blossom several times over the years, including Catherine Ndereba in 2004.

“The wind was very strong,” said Olaru, who trains in Boulder, Colo. “I wanted to run 52 minutes. I wasn’t thinking about anybody running close, I was only thinking about time.”

On the other hand, John K. Korir of Kenya, the men’s champion, had to fight for the victory. He emerged from a pack of countrymen in the last 400 meters to win in 46:55. He, too, collected $6,000 for his efforts.

It was Korir’s third victory at the Cherry Blossom. The weather was markedly better in 2001 and 2003, when he ran 46:12 and 46:56, respectively.

One of the Kenyans left in his wake was co-race favorite John Cheruiyot Korir, who finished fifth. Kenyans would have swept the top 10 positions save for a seventh-place effort by Australia’s Andrew Letherby.

“I expected my friend John [C.] Korir to win,” John K. Korir said. “He is in good shape. He just was at the World Cross Country Championships and finished ninth.”

Olaru was not considered the favorite among the record 8,665 overall finishers. That designation went to Sally Barsosio of Kenya, who was in contention for just the first couple of miles in West Potomac Park.

Then Olaru emerged during the out-and-back segment on Memorial Bridge.

Her plan was to run specific mile splits as training for Boston, where she hopes to improve upon a fifth-place finish in 2004.

Last year proved a breakthrough for Olaru. In 2002 and 2003, she began battling nausea in the later stages of marathons and wound up having her gallbladder removed to correct the problem.

Then, in 2004, she followed her strong effort in Boston with a disappointing race in the Athens Olympics, finishing 13th in 2:34:45 after taking a breather in the heat and vomiting at the side of the road.

But two weeks later, her fortunes reversed. She handily won the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach and the Philadelphia Distance Run, then nailed a personal-best 2:24:33 as the runner-up in Chicago in October.

“After the way she ran today, now she goes into Boston really relaxed,” her agent, Brendan Reilley, said.

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