WASHINGTON–What was thought to have been a new American record in a 10-mile run has been negated after it was discovered a mistake was made in the layout of the course used in the recent 2019 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run.
According to organizers of the race, which took place April 7 on a route through the capital, a semi-circle of cones on the revised course marking the turn-around point on Ohio Drive on an out-and-back segment between miles three and four had been misplaced. The net effect of that was to shorten the 10-mile course by 240 feet, negating the apparent American record time run of 46:00 run by Stanley Kebenei.
In a Facebook posting, organizers of the Cherry Blossom Run said despite the shortened route taken by the runners, they will still go ahead and pay Kebenei the $10,000 record bonus for posting a time faster than Greg Meyer’s American record of 46:13, set in Washington in 1983. The Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run also pays $1,000 and $750 each year to the first two men and women who run times better than 46:00 and 52:00 minutes, respectively. Race winners Jemal Yimer (45:36) and Rosemary Wanjiru, (50:42) and second place finishers Josphat Tanui (45:38) and Gotytom Gebreslase (50:47) will be paid those time bonuses; their times were well under the established time bonus benchmarks, organizers said.
"The organizers profoundly regret this unfortunate error in an event which for 47 years has prided itself in organizational excellence and support for elite athletes as well as the masses of runners who follow them,” said Event Director Phil Stewart in a statement. “We have taken every step possible to make our bonus winners whole again. Clearly this is not the ending we wanted to an outstanding weekend with perfect running conditions, nearly $100,000 in prize money and bonuses paid out, and $400,000 raised for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals."
According to organizers of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run, due to road construction, the course for this year’s race had to be adjusted just a few weeks before the date of the event. The revised course was then measured and certified in accordance with international course measurement standards, and record times would have been valid if the course was run as measured.
“Unfortunately, that was not the case. Later analysis showed that the turn-around on Ohio Drive in West Potomac Park had been misplaced on race morning,” the organization said. “Sadly, an application for recognition of Kebenei’s effort being an American record will not be submitted to USATF. Rosemary Wanjiru also ran an apparent record—fastest U.S. all-comers time in a women’s only race—which will also go unrecognized, even though she finished one minute and two seconds faster than the time of 51:44, set here in 2007 by Tebya Erkesso. Race organizers do not offer a bonus for U.S. all-comers records. Wanjiru's time will not be considered as Credit Union Cherry Blossom women's event record, leaving intact Colleen DeReuck's time of 51:16 as the standard.”
Organizers noted that in 2015 a traffic accident necessitated re-routing the race route at the last minute, which resulted in runners running a shorter course, and as it did then, this year race organizers will adjust all runners’ pace per mile in official race results to reflect the fact that they only ran 9.96 miles this year. There were 17,656 finishers in this year’s Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run.