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.
About the Race
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 (at 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 earthquake 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!
About the only memory I have of 2001 was that it was the year of the blade of grass… Bill pulled ahead early in the race leaving Miles and me to run together, and of course we gabbed the entire time.
Note: Skip this paragraph if you don’t want TMI… At some point shortly after starting up Rock Creek Park I had to pee so badly and of course there wasn’t a porta potty in sight. Eventually, I had no choice but to pull over behind some trees and tall grass and do my business. Shortly afterward I told Miles that I must have a UTI because things didn’t feel right and I had to go to the bathroom again already. Luckily, we came upon a porta potty so I stopped again. Low and behold, there was a long blade of grass stuck in just the wrong place and as soon as I removed it, the sensations of a UTI were gone.
Back to the race, Bill finished ten minutes in front of us, and despite two stops and lots of gabbing, Miles and I finished in 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! HaHa!
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 potties 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!
Cherry Blossom Bibs
And here’s my collection of bibs…
Cherry Blossom Results
Here’s a recap of my Cherry Blossom Ten Miler races:
- • Have you ever run the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler?
- • Have you ever visited DC? If so, was it during cherry blossom season?
- • Who’s racing this weekend?
That is a lot of races! I love how races used to be, back in the day before all of us were runners!
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And before 911…
I’m running Cherry Blossom on Sunday! So excited…it’s a date for the hubby and I! I actually got in with the lottery last year, but my husband came down with the stomach bug the night before and couldn’t watch the kids so I didn’t end up running it. Not sure we will see Cherry Blossoms though 🙁
What a fun date! Good luck tomorrow! At this rate, we’ll be lucky if the Cherry Blossoms bloom by Memorial Day. Ha!
Thanks for posting these recaps. I’m running my first cherry blossom tomorrow (and my first 10-mile race in 19 years). I’m really excited and reading about your past races makes me even more excited! I think it’s amazing that your hair looked so good after the 2002 race 😉
Kimberly Westrich recently posted…Cherry Blossom Final Prep – Clothes & Mantras
I’m so glad you enjoy my throwback recaps and that they are helpful to you! Good luck tomorrow! Can’t wait to read your recap!
Great recap (s). I love how you can remember so many things from your races. 🙂
I saw Cherry Blossoms last weekend in Phoenix and it made me smile. .They are my favorite!
Stephanie@nowiun.com recently posted…New Race Schedule and a Successful STEM Night
Thanks, Stephanie! The pictures help jog my memory.
Love the throwback photos! That’s awesome you ran it in its early days before there was a lottery system and everything else that goes with a big race!
We don’t have many cherry blossoms here, and it’s about a month or even two down the road that they bloom! However, in Vancouver at their marathon time (in a few weeks), they have glorious blossoms!
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It’s fun pulling those old photos out and looking at them again!
Y’all had several years where the blossoms were at their peak for the race! My dad said this year it looked like today’s race will be about a week early for the peak. I’ve never run a Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, but I have ridden a 6 and 7 foot tall unicycle in the Cherry Blossom parade many times as a kid. That was back in my Circus Club days in elementary and middle school. I think I’ve shared a picture on my blog of me in the parade with the Washington Monument in the background. If not, I may have to dug that up!
I continue to be amazed by your post-race hair! Tell me your secrets 🙂
Meagan recently posted…Turkey Runner is moving!
I remember that picture of you riding the unicycle!
My race hair is totally determined by the relative humidity! I need to do a post just on my race hair!
I LOVE CB! It is my favorite 10-miler and holds my PR at the distance. I loved reading through your recaps and most especially, love all the vintage pics. It’s so rare to find someone out here in the blogosphere that’s been at it as long as I have. I read through your race lists, too, and I’m pretty sure we have been at the same race on more than a couple of occasions!
misszippy1 recently posted…Let’s have a cup of coffee
Cherry Blossom is my favorite ten-mile race (and my 10-mile PR), too. These days I stick to more local races, though. Maybe some year I’ll enter the lottery and try to run it again for old time’s sake!
I live less than an hour from DC and I have never seen the cherry blossoms. Horrible, right? It won’t be this year either, unless we can see them from 95 as we drive down the Florida!
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By next year you’ll be up to running ten miles, right? I’ll meet you in Bethesda and we’ll run through the beautiful Kentwood neighborhood and admire all of their blooming cherry trees, and then run on down Rock Creek Park to the Tidal Basin to see the “official” cherry blossoms. We’ll take the Metro home! Is it a date?
Very cool to see the Cherry Blossom Run evolve over the years! I ran it for the first time this year, it was a lot of fun!
Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted…Cherry Blossom Run Race Recap
So glad you had a great time! I’ve heard that it’s gotten much more crowded since I ran it in 1998-2008.
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