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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Kenya’s Allan Kiprono returns to defend Bloomsday title

35-year-old hopes to win record-tying third men’s title

Kenya’s Allan Kiprono topped the Bloomsday men’s elite field last year and seeks a record-tying third title on Sunday. (Jesse Tinsley)
Kenya’s Allan Kiprono topped the Bloomsday men’s elite field last year and seeks a record-tying third title on Sunday. (Jesse Tinsley)
The 39th running of Bloomsday on Sunday will feature several returning champions and a Kenyan who is simply trying to race his way into special status. Allan Kiprono, 35, of Kenya, ran away from the field last year after finishing third in 2013 and winning his first Bloomsday men’s elite race in 2012. Kiprono’s second-place finish in 2011 was also the sixth-fastest time (33 minutes, 59 seconds) in race history. “I’m so happy to be back in Spokane,” Kiprono said. “Yeah, there is pressure. Just to win it is not easy. But I hope to become a three-time champion.” John Korir is the only other three-time champion. Kiprono was in town Thursday for the official Bloomsday news conference with his training partner, Lani Kiplagat Rutto, 26, also of Kenya. Rutto has two Bloomsday fifth-place finishes (2012, 2013), but he just finished second at the 2015 Asics Los Angeles Marathon. “I’m feeling good after Los Angeles,” Rutto said. “I feel strong. I will try my best.” Both will run the 12-kilometer (7.46-mile) course through Spokane for the fourth time seeking the $7,000 top prize. “I’ve learned so much,” Rutto said of previous races. “I think Bloomsday is the toughest course we run. It helps to have experience.” Kiprono agreed, saying the changes of elevation make it difficult for runners to focus on their balance. Kiprono said he still relishes the chance to race up Doomsday Hill. “I like that hill,” Kiprono said. “It gives me a chance to move away from the group.”
Limo receives nod
Jon Neill, Bloomsday elite athlete coordinator, said 2014 women’s elite champion Mary Wacera recently had to scratch from the field. But Neill said he expects the race to be Cynthia Limo’s to lose in her first time competing at Bloomsday. The 25-year-old Kenyan “has been on an absolute tear on the road circuit,” Neill said. She’s already run a 31:08 for a 10K split as part of a half marathon, the fourth-fastest time for a 10K in the world. She also last week won the Hy-Vee half marathon in Des Moines, Iowa. “Plan for her to bolt early,” Neill said of Limo. “But in the last seven years, no competitor knows this race better than Lineth Chepkurui.” The 27-year-old Kenyan finished second last year after winning Bloomsday three consecutive times starting in 2008, including setting the course record in 2010 at 38:10. “Expect (Chepkurui) to chase Limo on Sunday,” Neill said.
Superior fields
Returning champion Josh George, 31, of Champaign, Illinois, recently added the title of world champion after winning last week’s men’s wheelchair division of the London Marathon. But he’ll face former champions Scott Parson, 55, of San Jose, California, Aaron Gordian and Aaron Pike, who has multiple second-place finishes at Bloomsday. “We have a very exciting field,” wheelchair race coordinator Bob Murphy said. “Bloomsday is one of the first races to really make something special of these athletes coming to town.” Current and former athletes from the University of Illinois make up about a third of the field, Murphy said. That includes returning women’s champion Susannah Scaroni, 23, who lives in Urbana, Illinois, but grew up in Tekoa. Scaroni said Illinois attracts the best wheelchair athletes for a reason. “When we go to practice, we get to compete against 20 of the world’s best wheelchair athletes every day,” she said. Scaroni recently finished third in the Boston Marathon and finished in fifth place last week in London. “I’m very excited,” Scaroni said. “I’m definitely getting over some jet lag, but I’ll be OK.” Murphy said Scaroni will get a challenge from 26-year-old Tatyana McFadden, of Champaign, Illinois. McFadden is halfway through her third rotation as champion of the Boston, New York, London and Chicago marathons. “She’s hands down the best female wheelchair competitor in the world,” Murphy said. “This will be an amazing field.”
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