Bill Rodgers, one of America's premier distance runners, will attempt to make it five straight victories in the annual Perrier Cherry Blossom 10-mile race Sunday beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Ohio Drive, just east of the Lincoln Memorial.
Approximately 4,600 runners will compete in the 10th annual race, which will loop the Tidal Basin once and East Potomac Park twice before heading for the finish line near the starting point on Ohio Drive. More than 7,000 runners were turned away from the race because of a lack of space.
Among the runners expected to challenge Rodgers are Australian Robert Wallace, winner of the 1981 Dallas White Rock Marathon; Terry Baker of Williamsport, Md., winner of the 1981 Virginia Beach Marathon and Charleston (W.Va.) 15-miler; Odis Sanders of Freeport, N.Y., winner of the 1981 Madrid Marathon; Mike McGuire of Ann Arbor, Mich., winner of the 1981 Detroit Free Press Marathon and a member of the U.S. international cross-country team, and Doug Kurtis of Novi, Mich., winner of the 1982 Mardi Gras Marathon.
Craig Masback of Princeton, N.J., a prominent miler, and Tom Wysocki of El Toro, Calif., a well known West Coast runner, are also running Sunday, as are all of the previous winners of the Cherry Blossom Race--Sam Bair, Jack Mahurin, Dan Rincon and Carl Hatfield, who won twice before Rodgers established his preeminence in the race.
Lauri Binder of Oakland, Calif., the first woman to finish last year, had been scheduled to compete, but notified race officials yesterday that she had the flu and will not run. Georgetown University student Pia Palladino, who finished second in the last two Cherry Blossom races, had also been scheduled to compete but dropped out because of a leg injury.
The leading contenders among women are expected to include Linda McLennan of Tuscaloosa, Ala., winner of the Charlotte 10-kilometer and the Tangerine Bowl Half-Marathon, and Jan Arenz of Port Washington, N.Y., winner of the Long Island and Yonkers marathons.
When it was first run in 1973, the Cherry Blossom race had only 129 finishers, but it has since developed into one of the prominent races on the national running circuit.
U.S. Park Police said East and West Potomac parks will be closed to traffic Sunday beginning at 8 a.m.