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'Amazing to be back' | Cherry Blossom race returns after two-year pandemic hiatus

Organizers estimate about 8,000 runners participated in the 10-mile race.

WASHINGTON — Organizers call the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run the "Rite of Spring," but COVID-19 has kept racers on ice. At least, until now.

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, racers finally returned to the starting line Sunday morning on the National Mall.

"It felt amazing to be back out here," said Daryle Lademan, a runner from Arlington, Virginia.

The race has been a Washington staple for decades. It started in 1973 with 129 people, according to organizer Jeff Darman. Today, he says, things are a little different.

Nearly 10,000 people entered the 10-mile race, according to Darman. He estimates about 8,000 finished.

Matteo Iacoviello was one them.

"It was great to be back to running," he said just after crossing the finish line. "It's been a while. Two years of running alone."

That hiatus was a byproduct of the pandemic.

COVID-19 forced organizers to cancel the 2020 Cherry Blossom race and delay this year's race, which is usually held in the spring, until now.

The pandemic still played a role in Sunday's race. Racers were asked to wear masks except while running.

But, for many, that was a small price to pay to finally get back on the course.

Alejandro Macedo of McLean, Virginia, compared it to seeing "a friend that we wait [for] every year."

"To have it come on the heels of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, it was very special," said Lademan, whose fiancé is a Marine.

The race made a splash in charitable donations, too. Darman says this year's event raised about $150,000 for the Children's Miracle Network.

Since the race's inception, he says that figure is $10 million.

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