In honor of tomorrow’s 43rd running of the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, I’m recapping the years that Bill and I ran this fantastic and beautiful race. I’ll even talk about the year that we woke up to snow on the ground and like the wimps we were, went back to bed.
The Cherry Blossom Ten Miler has been part of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC since 1973. It runs past the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Tidal Basin, Arlington National Cemetery, travels up Rock Creek Park, and then back down past the Kennedy Center. It truly is a beautiful course, and if you’re lucky, the race might coincide with the peak blooming of the cherry blossoms!
Back in 1998, I ran my first very first Cherry Blossom Ten Miler with my friend Miles and some of the guys from our Wednesday track group. My friend Ramona and I drove down to DC that morning, and she parked the car while I ran over to pick up our packets. Back then the race organizers offered race morning packet pick-up which was a huge convenience. I also remember that bag drop-off was nothing more than a large knee-high corral for dropping off and picking up your bag on your own, honor system style. Of course, I never left anything of value in it other than my warm dry clothes for after the race.
Back to Ramona… I picked up our packets, pinned on my race bib, found Miles and our other friends, and still no Ramona. As race time approached, I attached safety pins to her bib, and put the rest of her packet in the bag corral with my stuff. We lined up for the race along the side of the road so we could keep an eye out for Ramona. The gun fired, and I took off… with two bibs. The thing I love about the Cherry Blossom course is that there are (a least there used to be) a few out-and-backs so you could see other runners. In fact, you could see the lead runners, sometimes on world-record pace, running straight toward you and you’d have the opportunity to cheer them on. Not only did we see the lead runners that day, but shortly after our own turn-around, we saw Ramona running not too far behind us. She and I met in the grassy median and I was able to give her the bib!
I continued my race with Mike (one of the track guys), and feeling great, I eventually decided to kick it up a notch and pulled away to finish in 1:16:22 (7:38 pace). I set my ten-miler PR that day!
By 1999 Bill had started running with me and signed up to run Cherry Blossom with our friends. It was an overcast day, and if I remember correctly, race conditions were pretty good. I ran the majority of the race with Miles, but he pulled ahead and finished about two minutes in front of me. I finished in 1:25:48 (8:34 pace) with Bill finishing his first road race ever about a minute behind me!
After the race, Bill snapped this picture of me next to the Tidal Basin. You can see scaffolding around the Washington Monument while it was undergoing restoration. There has been scaffolding around it again due to repairs required as a result of the earth quake in 2011. It’s due to reopen on May 12, 2014.
2000 was probably the year that we woke up to snow. Of course it had little impact on the race, and quite possibly didn’t even snow in DC, but we made the sleepy-eyed executive decision to go back to bed!
I have no specific memories of our 2001 race. I didn’t find any pictures from that year, so I have nothing to jog my memory. Miles and I stayed together and Bill finished ten minutes in front of us. My time was 1:28:34 (8:51 pace).
In 2002, Bill and I arrived early for packet pick-up and to take pictures before the race. It was the 30th running of the race and our race packet included a commemorative key chain.
That April morning in 2002 started as a cool crisp spring day, perfect for a race. As you can see, the Cherry Blossoms were at their peak!
After pictures, we met our friend Ed. I don’t talk about Ed much because he’s so fast, and I rarely get to run with him. We have started many races together, and we used to do our track workouts together, but that was about it… until this race. Ed has since moved on to almost exclusively running ultras; in fact, Ed has run 17 JFK 50-Milers, and one Western States 100.
Bill, Ed and I ran the race together and finished in 1:19:48 (7:58 pace).
It was such a treat to get to run the whole race with these two awesome guys, but what’s even more of a treat is looking back at how good my hair looked at the end of the race!
Bill’s and my final running of the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler was in 2008. It had rained hard the day and night before the race, and it was still raining that morning. The grass in the athletes village had turned into a huge muddy mess. I was surprised my shoes didn’t get sucked off of my feet in the mud! To stay warm and dry Terri and I wore our Hefty bags until race time.
You can see from the rain drops in the puddle beside Bill that it continued to rain throughout the race.
Terri and I ran together and after a while (with all of those rain drops hitting us), we needed to go to the bathroom. We saw about ten porta-pottas lined up along the race course without any lines (bonus!), so we decided to stop. Every. Single. One. of them was locked with padlocks. Oops!
Terri’s and my goal for this race was to stay together and have fun. This might have been one of my first races that I didn’t push myself and just enjoyed the experience with a friend at my side (there have been many since then)! We finished in 1:46:23 (10:38 pace); cold and wet, but happy to have had a fun time together.
The 2008 shirt is the only shirt we still have. The official race shirt was cotton heather gray, but you could upgrade to this white technical shirt!
And here’s my collection of bibs…
Here’s a recap of my Cherry Blossom Ten Miler races:
These days the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler has a lottery system for signing up. Joseph and Julie had planned to run again this year, but didn’t get in…
- Have you ever run the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler?
- Have you ever visited DC? During cherry blososms?
- Who’s racing this weekend?