Annual Credit Union Cherry Blossom Awards Announced

Annual Credit Union Cherry Blossom credit union awards announced during the MD|DC CUA CONNECT 2024 conference in June.

July 1, 2024

Credit Union Miracle Day and the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Committee announced the annual credit union awards during the MD|DC Credit Union Association CONNECT 2024 conference in June. The awards recognize the top credit union runners, credit union running team and Most Spirited Volunteer team.

Most Spirited Volunteer Team

Each year the race organization recognizes the Most Spirited Volunteer Team from one credit union. This year they recognized of a group of credit unions that worked collectively while taking on new responsibilities in a job that is critical to the smooth running of the race.

At the start/finish line, runners are divided into 6 Corrals. Corral volunteers must make sure that all runners get onto the course in an orderly, and fast, fashion. This year these volunteers also had to change the start line to the finish line and help the runners leave the course safely.

The following credit unions were named the Most Spirited Volunteer Team for outstanding spirit and multi-team cooperation:

·        Andrews FCU – Yellow Corral

·        Commonwealth One FCU – Orange Corral

·        Congressional FCU – Purple Corral

·        PAHO/WHO FCU – Green Corral

·        U.S. Postal FCU – Blue Corral

·        U.S. Senate FCU – Red Corral

Fastest Credit Union Team

NASA FCU Team “Worm Logo” with a time of 3:16:25

The Worm Logo team time was faster than last year's top time and they were 23 minutes faster than their nearest competitor this year. Equally impressive is three of the four team members are between the ages of 53 through 56. The team's members are Jacob Englander, Shawn Kyle, Mira Panek and Denise Knickman.

Congratulations to the other credit union team finalists:

2nd Place – Library of Congress FCU-Jefferson

3rd Place -- NASA FCU Meatball Logo

4th Place -- Library of Congress FCU-Madison

Fastest Female Runner

Mira Panek with a time of 1:14:41. A veteran of nine previous NASA teams, this was her first appearance on the race’s Fastest Finishers Chart.  At age 56, Panek also holds the honor of being the oldest person ever to receive one of the race’s Fastest Finisher titles.

Fastest Male Runner

Jacob Englander with a time of 59:05.  Englander is the only credit union team runner to break the 60-minute barrier this year. It is his first time on the Fastest Finishers Chart.

Other Credit Union Cherry Blossom runner results worthy of mention are:

·        Older credit union runners held the stage this year. In fact, the average age for our credit union runners is the most mature we have ever seen. Our average runner this year was 44.9 years old.

·        Ageless runner Marvin Pace returned for the Library of Congress FCU. This year he ran for their "Madison" team to shatter our second longest standing age group record. In his first year in the 70 to 74 year male age group category, his finish time of 70 minutes and 12 seconds shaved a remarkable 44 minutes and 48 seconds off the previous record set 19 years ago by NASA's Peter Hui. Marvin now holds every male credit union age group record from ages 50 through 74. Marvin also remains our most frequent finishing male team runner, having finished 15 Cherry Blossom races since 2002.

·        In addition to being our fastest female runner this year, Mira Panek also lowers our longest standing age group record for credit union female finishers. In the females 55-59 year age category, her time of 74 minutes and 41 seconds shaved 4 minutes and 21 seconds off the previous record set 20 years ago by Navy FCU's Linda Kearney.

·        Denise Knickman has now raced for 12 NASA FCU teams in as many years. Denise has won more Fastest (credit union )Female Runner awards (five) than any other credit union female. She was less than a minute shy of winning the title in this year's race. She is the only woman ever to lead a credit union team to a first-place finish (in 2019).

·         NASA Federal Credit Union continues to dominate the Credit Union Teams category, extending its winnings count to eleven team championship titles out of twenty-two possible.