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Bluegrass 10,000 is stressful race, if mom says it is

Patrick Morgan, who starred at Boyle County, stopped a streak off 10 consecutive wins by Kenyan runners last year.
Patrick Morgan, who starred at Boyle County, stopped a streak off 10 consecutive wins by Kenyan runners last year. HERALD-LEADER

Those bull's-eyes Monday morning in downtown Lexington belong to champions.

Patrick Morgan and Kim Grieshaber will be back to defend their titles in the 35th annual Bluegrass 10,000 road race.

Morgan, a former state high school track champion from Boyle County, became the first Kentuckian since 1998 to win the men's overall title last year. In doing so, he ended a streak of 10 consecutive wins by Kenyans.

Grieshaber, a former Woodford County High and University of Louisville distance standout, dominated the women's division.

She acknowledges pressure that comes with her title.

"But I just laugh it off," said Grieshaber, who will begin graduate school this fall at the University of Kentucky. "It's just a race; just a race in Central Kentucky. It's not that big of a deal. I've learned to not let pressure get to me as much anymore because it's just unnecessary stress."

Morgan, a 4:01 miler during his days at Furman University, will be running his 14th Bluegrass in a row, having started when he was 11.

"It's actually a really funny race for me," he said. "I've been to some pretty prestigious races — state meet back in high school, a bunch of conference meets, NCAA qualifiers — and my parents never put any pressure on me. But, for some reason, this is the one race where my mom's ever put any pressure on me to go out and win it. ... This is like the Bluegrass race."

Mom (Joni) puts her best foot forward, too, by running the race each year. So do Patrick's dad (Mark) and brothers (Sam, Daniel). Sam placed fourth in last year's race, Daniel 19th.

Grieshaber will be running her fifth consecutive Bluegrass with her father, Chuck.

A detour, made necessary due to downtown construction, ensures that Mark Nenow's 1983 time of 29:14 will remain the record for the usual course.

Rather than Main Street, the 35th Bluegrass will start three blocks east on Midland Avenue. However, the field of 3,000-plus will be back on the normal course before reaching the first mile marker.

Grieshaber, for one, said she's not concerned.

"I just kind of show up and run," she said, "and follow the people in front of me."

Morgan, who recently completed graduate school in North Carolina and is in the process of moving to Charleston, S.C., has heard about the revised route.

"It seems like a fair course, just like it always is," he said. "You still have to run Richmond Road, that big hill coming back. ... You just have to be in really good shape, I think. That's about it. And a little bit used to the heat and a little bit used to the hills. Even those don't really matter that much as long as you're in top-notch shape.

"That's what's really beautiful about this course is that the one that's in the best shape will win it. It's a very fair course. It has every element that you need in a race."

Grieshaber's challengers will include last year's 3-4 finishers: Betsy Laski and Andrea Richardson.

Morgan's out-of-family foes are more of a mystery.

However, he won't have to deal with two-time winner Jacob Korir (2007-08) or 2009 runner-up Joseph Maina. Both Kenyans have opted to run Monday's Great Buffalo Trace 5K in Frankfort, where prize money for the first three finishers totals $4,500.

One Kenyan who might compete, though, is Adam Ronnoh. As a freshman, he ran eighth on last year's Eastern Kentucky cross country team.

Morgan ran a marathon in January, which led to foot and knee injuries, then focused on the mile during track season. So what to expect Monday?

"I'm curious to find out myself," he said. "My training hasn't been going as good as last year. ... We'll just see. It's all fun for me, so whatever happens happens."

Asked whether she will win again, Grieshaber said, "that would definitely be nice."

"I know in the past there have been some ringers that will come in from out of town. You never know who's going to be there. I'll definitely give it my best and hope for the best."

■ Also back to defend his title is Greg Queen, from Lily. He set a course-record time of 19:14 last year to capture his sixth consecutive title in men's hand-cycle wheelchair.

■ All eight people who have completed the previous 34 races are entered: Tim Bailey, Bob Barnes, Ken Catron, Robert Henthorne, Christie Robinson, Dick Robinson, Frances Ross and Mary (Witt) Wilson.

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