If you’ve conquered Doomsday Hill enough times during a 12-kilometer race on the first Sunday in May, your name almost becomes familiar in Bloomsday circles.
Last year, Jon Neill, who serves as the elite athlete coordinator, predicted that 2012 champion Allan Kiprono, of Kenya, would repeat. But Belete Assefa raced to the front last year to become the first Ethiopian to win Bloomsday.
For the 38th running of Bloomsday this Sunday, Neill has picked another Ethiopian to win: 22-year-old Mosinet Geremew.
“He’s already made a huge name for himself,” Neill said. “He’s the top contender in this year’s field.”
But he’ll be paced by Kiprono, who finished third last year after winning in 2012 and finishing second in 2011. “He’s never finished worse than third,” noted Neill.
Also in the hunt will be 25-year-old Lani Kiplagat Rutto, of Kenya, who finished fifth the last two years. And don’t forget 28-year-old Simon Ndirangu, also of Kenya, who won in 2011 with a time of 33:48, which is the fifth fastest time in race history.
As for the women runners, Neill tabbed Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, 35, of Flagstaff, Ariz., as the top contender after 2013 champion Buzunesh Deba chose not to compete so she could recover from the Boston Marathon.
“All of the top five contenders … they are all spring race champions,” Neill said. “I gave a lot of study to it. I want to be fair to the times they have run. That’s where I just have to give the nod to Janet based on the comparison of the 10K times over the spring.” Cherobon-Bawcom, who finished second in 2012, set the American record earlier this year at the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile with a time of 52:12.
But the field also includes Kenyan Mary Wacera, 25, who was a silver medalist in the 2014 World Half Marathon Championships. And three-time Bloomsday champion Lineth Chepkurui, 26, of Kenya, who set the Bloomsday course record in 2010 at 38:10, which was the fastest 12K in the world at the time.
“Bloomsday is a course where experience pays off,” Neill said. “They typically stay tightly bunched until Doomdsay, and that’s where the move is made. I would only hazard a guess what the pace will be early on because those ladies can fly.”
In the wheelchair competition, the men’s race shapes up to be a showdown of experience versus youth, said race organizer Teresa Skinner.
Santiago Sanz, 33, of Snellville, Ga., has dominated Bloomsday for the past nine years.
“But Raymond Martin is right on his heels,” Skinner said. “They recently duked it out at the Boston Marathon” in which Sanz won, but Martin was less than two minutes behind.
Martin, 20, of Champaign, Ill., was named Paralympics Sportsman of the Year after he won gold in the 100, 200, 400 and 800 meters in the 2012 London Olympics. He also placed second last year in Bloomsday.
On the women’s side, champion Susannah Scaroni, 22, of Tekoa, returns to defend her title from 2013 when she completed the course in 32:55. Scaroni will try to hold off 27-year-old Amanda McGrory, of Savoy, Ill., who is chasing her seventh race win. McGrory’s best time was 32:28 in 2011.
While Neill said he always hopes for records to fall, it will depend on the weather. The current forecast calls for a chance of rain, high tem- perature of 59 and wind at 11 mph.
“If there is wind, we certainly won’t get those blazing times,” said Neill
A brave girl jumps from the rocks on the west side of Tubbs Hill as her two friends watch. (Don Sausser/Facebook photo)
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