Julie Shea of Raleigh, N.C., is one entrant who won't have any trouble with straying off course in today's seventh annual Perrier-cherry Blossom 10-mile run in West Potomac Park that starts at 8:30 a.m.
Shea, a freshman at North Carolina State, has run in the Blossom event six times, finishing first among female entrants three times. She holds both the Classic course and American women's records for 10 miles (56 minutes eight seconds in 1977).
Shea did not run last year, Jenny White, emerging as the top woman finisher. White is passing up this year's run in lieu of concentrating on 1,500-meter distances on tracks.
Others among 800 women entrants in the field of 4,035 include Aileen O'Connor of College Park and Jill Haworth of Bowi. They are expected to pose Shea's principal challengers.
Communication director Jeff Darman expects "only" about 3,200 runners to start the race at 8:30.
"The entries have been in for months," said Darman. "Some runners get cold feet, others are injured in the ensuing time since entering."
Darman, a former competitor in the Blossom event, expressed some concern over the 80-degree temperatures of the past few days.
"If it is unseasonably hot, the runners will have not yet adapted their systems of it," he said. "Since the course is flat, runners will be going all out. The body overheats and even a well-trained runner can get overheated. They're just pushing beyong their limits."
Among male participants entered are 1978 titlist and former Boston Marathon winner Bill Rodgers of Melrose, Mass. Rodgers holds the course record of 48:57.
At least a dozen other sub-50 minute 10 milers will challenge Rodgers. Among those are two-time Blossom winner Carl Hatfield, Philippi, W. Va., and Jeff Bradley of Mannheim, Pa. Bradley, the 1978 Maryland Marathon champion, was second in the Blossom event last year.
Four age-group awards will be presented to leading female finishers, seven to leading males. A two-mile "fun run" will follow the last of the 10-mile starters.
The race starts on Ohio Drive due south of the Lincoln Memorial. The runners will parallel the Potomac River down to Hains Point then will continue on Ohio Drive back north to just past Buckeye Drive. There they will reverse course and loop back around Hains Point to the Jefferson Memorial. After a lap around the Tidal Basin the race will end at the starting point.
114. Virginia finished third with 108 points.
Georgetown won the 3,200-meter relay im 7:28.5 with William Ledder, Phillip Reilly, Kevin Byrne and Aubrey McKitchen.