SPOKANE -- The world’s best runners and wheelchair racers will be converging on Spokane this Sunday for the 34th running of the Lilac Bloomsday Run.
Two-time Bloomsday champion Lineth Chepkurui of Kenya and Moroccan star Ridouane Harroufi headline the field.
Chepkurui is the woman to beat as she chases her third consecutive Bloomsday title. Only two women in Bloomsday’s history have accomplished that feat: Jane Omoro of Kenya (’98, ’99, and ‘00) and Anne Audain of New Zealand (’81, ’82, and ’83).
Chepkurui cruised to a 40-second victory in Bloomsday 2009 but has her hands full with 2010 World Cross Country Champion Emily Chebet-Muge of Kenya and Ethiopian star Mamitu Daska also in the mix.
“The women’s competition appears to be the marquis race of this year’s Bloomsday,” said Bloomsday Elite Athlete Coordinator Jon Neill. “Three of the sport’s biggest stars will square off in what should be a thrilling finish.”
For the men, Ridouane Harroufi of Morocco appears to be the man to beat.
Harroufi elected to pass on the London Marathon last weekend and will instead focus on making a run for the Bloomsday title. Peter Kurui of Kenya promises to give Harroufi a serious challenge for the title.
Defending Bloomsday champion John Yuda of Tanzania will not compete this year, but past Bloomsday champions John Korir (’03, ’05, & ’07) and Gilbert Okari (’06) will be on hand to contend for the crown.
In the elite wheelchair division at Bloomsday, Amanda McGrory will be the clear favorite in the woman’s race. A victory on Sunday would earn her a fourth consecutive Bloomsday title. Last year, McGrory won by a minute-and-a-half over her nearest competitor.
On the men’s side, a new wheelchair champion will be crowned. Last year’s Bloomsday champion, Krige Schabort, won’t be returning, giving Aaron Gordian of Mexico City, last year’s runnerup and the Bloomsday champion in 2008, a clear shot at the title.