This just in the from the Lilac Bloomsday Association:

HEPKURUI AND HARROUFI HEADLINE TOUGH BLOOMSDAY FIELD
Joan Samuelson to join over 50,000 runners, joggers & walkers

Spokane, WA—The world’s best runners and wheelchair racers will be
converging on Spokane, Washington, this Sunday for the 34th running of
the Lilac Bloomsday Run. Two-time Bloomsday champion Lineth Chepkurui of
Kenya and Moroccan star Ridouane Harroufi headline the field, while
running legend Joan Samuelson will join the competition and no doubt
show 50,000 runners, joggers and how fast a 52-year-old can travel 12
kilometers.

Chepkurui is the woman to beat as she chases her third consecutive
Bloomsday title. Only two women in Bloomsday’s history have accomplished
this feat: Jane Omoro of Kenya (’98, ’99, and ‘00) and Anne Audain of
New Zealand (’81, ’82, and ’83).

Chepkurui cruised to a 40-second victory over 2nd place Teyba Erkesso of
Ethiopia in Bloomsday 2009. Her victories at the 2010 Credit Union
Cherry Blossom 10 Mile and 2010 Crescent City Classic might suggest that
a Bloomsday victory for Chepkurui is a foregone conclusion. Chepkurui,
though, will have her hands full with 2010 World Cross Country Champion
Emily Chebet-Muge of Kenya and Ethiopian star Mamitu Daska.

Chebet-Muge beat Chepkurui at World Cross by 21 seconds, and Bloomsday
will be Chebet-Muge’s first race since claiming the cross country title.
Mamitu Daska, winner of the 2009 Bolder Boulder 10k, should give both
Chepkurui and Chebet-Muge a battle. Daska is traveling from Ethiopia to
run Bloomsday, and her 2:24 performance at the 2010 Dubai Marathon shows
she’s ready to challenge for the title.

“The women’s competition appears to be the marquis race of this year’s
Bloomsday,” said Jon Neill, Bloomsday Elite Athlete Coordinator. “Three
of the sport’s biggest stars will square off in what should be a
thrilling finish.”

For the men, Ridouane Harroufi of Morocco appears to be the man to beat.
Harroufi enters Bloomsday with the fastest 10k time this year among the
Bloomsday field (27:51, Cooper River Bridge Run). Harroufi elected to
pass on the London Marathon last weekend and will instead focus on
making a run for the Bloomsday title. Peter Kurui of Kenya, who has
already run 27:55 for 10k and 1:00:17 for the half marathon in 2010,
promises to give Harroufi a serious challenge for the title.

Defending Bloomsday champion John Yuda of Tanzania will not compete this
year, but past Bloomsday champions John Korir (’03, ’05, & ’07) and
Gilbert Okari (’06) will be on hand to contend for the Bloomsday crown
and the $7,000 first place prize. In spite of the top Kenyans competing
this year, Neill thinks Kenya’s dominance will once again be challenged
at Bloomsday.

“Last year, John Yuda of Tanzania ended Kenya’s 15-year win streak of
consecutive Bloomsday men’s titles,” said Neill. “It looks like Moroccan
Ridounne Harroufi may keep the Kenyans off the victory stand again in 2010.”

Along with the tough international field, Americans Dan Browne of Chula
Vista, California and Sally Meyerhoff of Scottsdale, Arizona will return
to defend their U.S. titles. Both won the $5,000 first place prize for
being the top Americans in last year’s Bloomsday. Bloomsday will once
again feature a $10,000 purse ($5,000 – $2,500 – $1,250 – $750 – $500)
for the top male and female Americans who finish in the top 25.

In the elite wheelchair division at Bloomsday, Amanda McGrory will be
the clear favorite in the woman’s race. A victory on Sunday would earn
her a fourth consecutive Bloomsday title. Last year McGrory won by a
minute-and-a-half over her nearest competitor.

On the men’s side, a new wheelchair champion will be crowned. Last
year’s Bloomsday champion, Krige Schabort, won’t be returning, giving
Aaron Gordian of Mexico City, last year’s runnerup and the Bloomsday
champion in 2008, a clear shot at the title.

A field of close to 55,000 runners, joggers and walkers are expected to
have entered by the time registration closes on Saturday evening. That’s
an increase of more than 3,000 over last year’s field, and the third
year in a row that Bloomsday numbers have grown by over 3,000.

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