Daska Dominate the 36th Lilac Bloomsday Run
Washington—Mamitu Daska made it clear early on that it
wasn't going to be a dawdle and kick race, as the
Ethiopian broke from the field before the three-mile
mark and never looked back, winning the 36th annual
Lilac Bloomsday Run in the third fastest women's time
ever run on the course. Allan Kiprono, meanwhile, was
nearly as dominant in the men's race, though he waited
until the infamous Doomsday Hill before doing a similar
number on a talented pack of mostly fellow Kenyans,
emerging at the top with a 10 meter lead and never being
challenged from there to the finish.
A field of over 53,000 signed up for this year's
Bloomsday, and the crowd was greeted with clear skies, a
temperature at the start in the low 40s, and virtually
no wind. The elite women started the 12-kilometer
(7.46-mile) race first, and it wasn't long before Daska
began making it clear that on this day she would take no
prisoners. After the first half-mile she moved to the
front, with Genoveva Kigen gamely staying with her. By
the first mile those two broke away, and Kigen made a
strong move on the downhill that followed.
As the duo reached the bottom and began the climb up
Hangman Hill to the 2-mile mark, they had a 20-meter
lead on the rest of the field, with Janet
Cherobon-Bawcom of Rome, Georgia, moving into the third
spot. Daska use the next hill, Cemetery, to make a clean
break of it, and by three miles she was 50 meters in the
lead. She passed three miles in 15:04, the fastest time
ever run on the course by a solid seven seconds. Her
time at four miles (20:16) was still five seconds ahead
of record pace, and it was the last time she had a
challenger close. Daska eased up somewhat after that,
but her final time of 38:26 was 57 seconds ahead of
Cherobon-Bawcom, who passed Kigen after the top of
Doomsday and built on that lead to the finish. Four
other Americans finished in the top 10.
"At one point I was closing on her," said
Cherobon-Bawcom, "But I think I misjudged how long
the hill was. It worked out well anyway. She had a great
race and I had a great race too."
In the men's competition, Kiprono seemed willing to
cruise back in a pack led mostly by Robert Letting
through the early miles, and the group still included
nine at the base of Doomsday. But then Kiprono decided
to take control, and he surged up the hill showing
By the top Kiprono had a 10 meter lead on Letting, and
as the course flattened out again he turned on the jets,
glancing back occasionally as his lead grew to 150
meters by the six-mile mark. He held that lead to the
finish, clocking 34:29 and beating Letting by 18
seconds, with MacDonard Ondara a step behind Letting.
Three-time Bloomsday champion John Korir took fourth, as
Kenyans claimed eight of the top ten spots. Top American
Carlos Trujillo of Middleton, Idaho, finished in tenth.
The victory by Kiprono was his first at Bloomsday, and
made up for a close runnerup finish to Simon Ndirangu a
"My focus was only to win," said Kiprono.
"Last year I missed it. I said this year I have to
win this race."
Victors Kiprono and Daska each earned $7,000 for their
wins, part of a purse of nearly $100,000 in all
divisions of the race. Along with the prize money, both
earned the right to compete for the PRRO Circuit Bonus
of $10,000 at the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th. Janet
Cherobon-Bawcom and Carlos Trujillo each took home
Bloomsday's top U.S. citizen prize of $5,000, plus open
prize money. Kevin Castille of Nicholasville, Kentucky,
and Dorota Gruca of Poland each earned the top masters
prize of $1,500.
In the men's wheelchair race, 52-year-old Californian
Scott Parson took a commanding lead on the first
downhill after mile one, and was only briefly challenged
by Aaron Pike of the University of Illinois. Scott ended
up winning by over a minute in a time of 29:58.
"It looked like everyone was hitting their brakes
on that first hill," said Parson, "and I just
let it go."
University of Illinois phenom Amanda McGrory grabbed a
commanding lead from the start of the women's race, and
notched her sixth consecutive Bloomsday women's title
with a time of 34:15, over two minutes ahead of runnerup
Susannah Scaroni. The Masters winner was Bradley Ray,
while Santiago Sanz earned his eighth T2 Quad title, and
Scott Stokes was the T1 Quad victor.
Along with top competition in all Bloomsday divisions,
47,882 finishers enjoyed performances from nearly 30
bands, vocalists and performing troupes along the
course, eventually reaching the finish and claiming this
year’s finisher T-shirt. Next year’s Lilac Bloomsday
Run, the 37th, will be on Sunday, May 5th, 2013.