September 12, 2021, Washington, DC: On a warm and crystal clear late summer morning in our Nation’s Capital, American Nell Rojas won a thrilling race among the top women runners at this year’s Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile (CUCB), while Kenyan Edwin Kimutai left the rest of the men’s field in his footsteps 25 minutes into the race to handily win the men’s race. With his 33-second victory, Kimutai honored the recent passing of his wife, while Rojas surprised all the pundits when she sprinted away from Jenny Simpson with less than one half mile left in the race to win the 2021 USATF Women’s 10 Mile Championship Presented by Toyota.
“I had zero expectations on place or time,” said Rojas in a post-race interview. “At seven or eight miles, I could tell Jenny and the others were working hard, and I was like ‘I’m not working hard.’ At that point I was OK letting myself believe I could win.”
Rojas added: “With 800 to go, I knew Jenny was right there, I was really scared. I kicked around 600, and made that decision because I couldn’t let Jenny have the last 50-meter sprint. At that point, I was like ‘I’m fine with second, but just let me do this.’”
While she may have been a novice on the roads at anything longer than one mile, Simpson displayed confidence and savvy from the start. In fact, USATF.tv webcast commentator Carrie Tollefson remarked that Jenny cut the tightest tangent in the women’s lead pack of 14, going into a roundabout on the Virginia end of Memorial Bridge at a little more than 1 ½ miles into the race. Throughout the race, Simpson could be seen moving around the dwindling lead pack — side to side, forward and back — while eventual third place American Annie Frisbie oftentimes found herself in the lead, pushing the pace, or sharing pacesetting duties with Rojas and overall third place finisher Antonina Kwambai.
“When Nell pushed it up the last hill, once she got separation, I just couldn’t respond,” said Simpson. “She was really strong.”
Simpson added: “Sometimes the best thing that can happen with a new experience is to get second. I’m finishing hungry. Overall, the entire experience was 10 times better than I expected.”
In the men’s race, American Frank Lara —who would eventually finish fifth overall as fourth American — charged out hard from the start, and the men’s field quickly strung out. By 5K four men had broken away: Kimutai, Lara, and his fellow Americans Abbabiya Simbassa and Augustus Maiyo. By 10K, Kimutai had established a 17-second lead over the Maiyo and Simbassa, with Lara a few seconds adrift of his compatriots. As Kimutai’s lead grew, Maiyo and Simbassa continued to run side-by-side through 15K. Two minutes later, the 28 year-old Simbassa began to pull away from 38-year-old Maiyo, building himself a five second margin by the finish.
When asked if he felt guilty taking the 2021 USATF Men’s 10 Mile Championships title from the 38-year-old Maiyo, Simbassa replied: “I respect those guys, they know more than I do. I’m just out to do my best.”
Well, today, Simbassa’s best earned him the title of America’s best after so many recent second-place finishes in USATF Championship races, and elicited this comment: “It feels good. I’ve been hunting for a long time, and it finally happened today.”
Here’s a compilation of place, times and money earned by the top-10 American women and men as well as open prize money winners, and RRCA Roads Scholar-RunPro Development Award winners.
Top-11 American Women:
- Nell Rojas (52:13), took home $5,000 for the overall victory and an additional $5,000 as top American;
- Jenny Simpson (52:16), took home $2,500 for being the second U.S. finisher and an additional $2,000 for second place overall;
- Annie Frisbie (52:26), took home $1,000 for being the third U.S. finisher, an additional $400 for placing fifth overall, and an additional $1,500 for winning the RRCA Roads Scholar-RunPro Camp Development Award competition;
- Sara Hall (52:43), took home $900 for being the fourth U.S. finisher and an additional $350 for placing sixth overall;
- Carrie Verdon (52:51), took home $800 for being the fifth U.S. finisher and an additional $300 for placing seventh overall;
- Diane Nukuri (53:23), took home $700 for being the sixth U.S. finisher and an additional $250 for placing eighth overall;
- Amy Davis (54:23), took home $600 for being the seventh U.S. finisher and an additional $150 for placing tenth overall;
- Susanna Sullivan (54:37), took home $500 for being the eighth U.S. finisher and an additional $1,000 for placing second in the RRCA Roads Scholar-RunPro Camp Development Award competition;
- Bria Wetsch (54:38), took home $500 for being the ninth U.S. finisher;
- Madeline Alm (54:41), took home $500 for being the tenth U.S. finisher.
- Natosha Rogers (55:02), placed eleventh among Americans, but still took home $500 for placing third in the RRCA Roads Scholar-RunPro Camp Development Award competition.
Top International Women:
- Antonina Kwambai (52:23), took home $750 for third place overall;
- Caroline Rotich (52:25), took home $600 for fourth place overall;
- Iveen Chepkemoi (53:40), took home $200 for ninth place overall.
Top-10 American Men:
- Abbabiya Simbassa (46:18), took home $5,000 for winning the USATF title, $2,000 for finishing second overall and an additional $1,500 for winning the RRCA Roads Scholar-RunPro Camp Development Award competition;
- Augustus Maiyo (46:23), took home $2,500 for placing second among Americans, $750 for finishing third overall and an additional $1,000 for placing second in the RRCA Roads Scholar-RunPro Camp Development Award competition;
- Reed Fischer (46:59), took home $1,000 for placing third among Americans, $600 for finishing fourth overall and an additional $500 for placing third in the RRCA Roads Scholar-RunPro Camp Development Award competition;
- Frank Lara (47:13), took home $900 for his U.S. fourth place and an additional $400 for placing fifth overall;
- Shadrack Biwott (47:35), took home $800 for his U.S. fifth place and an additional $300 for placing seventh overall;
- Joel Reichow (47:36), took home $700 for his U.S. sixth place and an additional $250 for placing eighth overall;
- Elkanah Kibet (47:39), took home $600 for his U.S. seventh place and an additional $200 for placing ninth overall;
- Chris Derrick (47:42), took home $500 for his U.S. eighth place and an additional $150 for placing tenth overall;
- John Raneri (47:43), took home $500 for his U.S. ninth place;
- Noah Droddy (47:47), took home $500 for his U.S. tenth place.
Top International Men:
- Edwin Kimutai (45:45), took home $5,000 for the overall victory and an additional $1,000 for breaking 46:00;
- Dominic Korir (47:30), took home $350 for placing 6th overall.
*The complete listing of results and awards can be found below the “About America’s Credit Unions” information below.
The only man to have run every Cherry Blossom Ten Mile, Ben Beach of Bethesda, MD, ran 1:42:49 today, and will line up to start his 54th consecutive Boston Marathon on October 11. Rob Halladay won the men’s 5K (18:38), while Jocelyn Kelley won the women’s 5K (19:49).
There were 5,888 finishers in the Ten Mile and 1,670 finishers in the 5K Run-Walk.
With virtual editions held in April 2020 and 2021, this in-person Fall Edition of the 2021 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Runs marks the 20th year of title sponsorship by Credit Union Miracle Day. Since 2002, over $10 million has been raised for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Participants in the 2021 in-person race have raised $180,059.