Preview: Chevron Houston Marathon Record Under Major Assaults! Note by Larry Eder

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While the USATF Half Marathon championships at the Chevron Half Marathonis taking much of the excitement this weekend, the Chevron Houston Marathon could be a huge story! Read below!

Marathon hopefuls: Deriba Merga, Ethiopia, Steve Karpas, Chevron Houston Race Director and Teyba Erkesso, Ethiopia, photo courtesy of Photorun.net

Chevron Houston Marathon Record under major assaults on Sunday
Fourth-place Olympic Marathon finisher looks to PR at Chevron Houston Marathon;
Teyba Erkesso, 10 mile world record holder, joins women's field


HOUSTON, TX (Jan. 16, 2009) - Fresh off a fourth-place finish at the 2008 Olympic Marathon in Beijing, Deriba Merga (ETH) has committed to attack the long standing Chevron Houston Marathon record this Sunday in the 37th running of the 2009 Chevron Houston Marathon. Merga's performance in China (2:10:21) was part of an impressive year of running for the 28-year-old from Nekemte, Ethiopia.

Most recently, Merga clocked a personal record (PR) and a course record of 59:15 in winning the New Delhi Half Marathon on November 9, 2008. Prior to the Games, he ran a PR of 2:06:38 to finish sixth at the London Marathon in April. Merga is the second-fastest Ethiopian marathoner of all time. Only world record holder Haile Gebrselassie has run faster. Merga is one of the most talented runners to commit to the Chevron Houston Marathon in the history of the event and with the assistance of two pacesetters, he plans to take aim at Houston's course record of 2:10:04.

The course standard is one of the oldest in the sport, set in 1989 by Richard Kaitany (KEN). With Haji Adilo, Merga's coach at his side at today's press conference, they are aiming for a 62 minute first half with 4 pacesetters, training partner Tilahun Regessa(ETH), Gebo Burka(ETH), Festes Langat(KEN),Mindaugas Pukstas(LIT) and Eric Chirchir(KEN). Adilo believes he could easily run under 2.06 and get ready to run the 2009 BAA Boston Marathon heading down the same path as fellow teammate Dire Tune(ETH), who set the Chevron Houston Marathon course record last year and then went on to win the 2008 BAA Boston Marathon 3-months later. Merga who trains in Addis Ababa, normally at a morning runs at 12-15C/54-59F should find the starting temperture of 10C/50F very reasonable as a major cold front has blown all over the US and Canada in recent days.

Merga, who felt wonderful in Beijing, was running very comfortable until 30km. As he approached the 37km mark, he had a bad stomach and had to slow down, then being passed on the final lap in the "Birdnest" to lose his Olympic Bronze Medal. Merga, who received the information of the faster Gebrselassie earlier in the day from Dubai, also explained he doesn't like the rain and hopes to run a much more even race with a 62 minute opening half.

Joining Merga in Houston will be three-time Chevron Houston Marathon winner and No. 1 seed David Cheruiyot (KEN). Cheruiyot won back-to-back marathons in 2005 and 2006 and added his third Houston title in 2008.

Kasime Adillo (ETH), second in Houston in 2008 in 2:12:47, Yuri Abramov (RUS), Kenneth Mungara (KEN), winner of the 2008 Toronto and Prague marathons, and Andrew Smith (CAN) also are scheduled to compete in the marathon.

Teyba Erkesso (ETH), Amane Gobena (ETH), Lioudmila Kortchaguina (CAN) and Albina Gallyamova (RUS) will lead the women's marathon field.

Erkesso, 25, who ran a world record of 51:44 at the 2007 Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, will be running her debut marathon and is expected to challenge Houston's 2:24:40 course record set by her teammate, Tune, in 2008. She is set to be paced at 73 minutes for the opening 21.1km and thinks 2.26 is in her grasp.

Kortchaguina is a three-time Canadian ING Ottawa Marathon champion and owner of a 2:29:42 PR from the Ottawa Marathon in 2006. She placed seventh in the half marathon in her previous trip to Houston two years ago. Romania's, Nuta Olara a seasoned veteran on the USA Road Circuit is coming off a win at the San Antonio Rock n Roll Marathon and is still attempting to best her PR from the Bank of America Chicago Marathon from 2004, 2.24.33


The prize purse for the open marathon races is $130,000, with a $35,000 first-place award in both the men's and women's events. A course record is worth a $10,000 bonus.


1. David Cheruiyot(KEN)
2. Deribe Merga(ETH)
3. Kasime Adillo(ETH)
5. Yuriy Abramov(RUS)
6. Benson Cheruiyot(KEN)
7. Andrew Smith(CAN)
8. Giitah Macharia(CAN)
9. Genna Tufa(ETH)
10. Chris Ciamarra(USA)
11. Ioannis ChamodrakasGRE)
13. Augustus Kavutu(KEN)
30. Gebo Burka(ETH)-Pace
31. Tilahun Regassa(ETH)-Pacer
32. Festes Langat(KEN)-Pacer
33. Mindaugas Pukstas(LIT)-Pacer
34. Eric Chirchir(KEN)-Pacer


1. Yulia Gromova(RUS)
2. Teyba Erkesso(ETH)
3. Nuta Olaru(ROM)
4. Amane Gobena(ETH)
5. Everlyne Lagat(KEN)
6. Lioudmila Kortchaguina(CAN)
7. Mary Akor(USA)
9. Heidrun Diakoumopoulos(GRE)

For more on the sport, please check http://www.runningnetwork.com

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