Bill Rodgers will try for his fourth consecutive victory in the Cherry Blossom Race beginning at 8:30 a.m. today as a field of 4,500 runners competes in the ninth annual 10-mile event.

Rodgers, four-time winner of the Boston marathon and three-time winner of the New York marathon, is likely to face stron challenges from Mike Roche of New Jersey, an Olympic steeplechaser, and George Malley of Glenn Dale, Md., a tough 10-mile runner.

Anne Sullivan, the Brown University student who won the women's Cherry Blossom title last year, is not in the race this year, but Pia Palladino, the Georgetown University student who finished second last year; and Laurie Binder, a 2:35:31 marathon runner from San Diego, are entered.

The race will begin in Ohio Drive near the Lincoln Memorial, loop around the Tidal Basin and traverse East Potomac Park and Hains Point twice before ending at the starting point.

East Potomac Park and Ohio Drive will be closed to traffic at 8 a.m. Independence Avenue on the bridge just north of the Tidal Basin will be closed shortly after 8:30 a.m. until the runners have cleared the area.

There will be a two-mile Run for Fun shortly after the start of the 10-mile race.