This column reminds us about the powerful hold Ethiopia and Kenya has on the top positions at the Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon. Justin Lagat sent this in on Saturday morning.
Nothing will prevent a 14th consecutive win for an Ethiopian woman at the Chevron Houston Marathon this weekend.
For the last thirteen editions, Ethiopian women have continued to win consecutive titles at the Houston Marathon since 2007. There have been a few interruptions by Kenyans in the men’s titles, but their countrymen have as well been dominant in the last thirteen years of this event.
Looking at this Sunday’s elite start lists, already six of the fastest personal best times on the women’s race are from Ethiopia, led by Bruktayit Degefa Eshetu with a time of 2:22:40. It will be an almost impossible task to beat Degefa who is so used to the Houston course having won the marathon in 2018 and 2019, besides finishing 2nd in 2017.
Even if the worst happens to Degefa in the race, the other five Ethiopians who are faster than the rest on the start list will most likely take her position on the podium and ensure that their winning tradition in this race is maintained.
On the men’s race, the title might still go to an Ethiopian, but there is some equal competition from Kenyans and Bahrainis. With the absence of both the 2018 and 2019 winners, Kenya’s Dominic Ondoro who won it in 2017 and has a personal best time of 2:08:51 will be one of the top contenders. However, with a personal best of 2:04:43, Hassan El Abassi of Bahrain looks to be the athlete to watch here, together with Ethiopia’s Woldaregay Kelkile Gezahegn with a personal best time of 2:05:56.
It will likely be the most exciting road race ever staged in Texas in the half marathon distances with the elite fields assembled this year appearing to be some of the most competitive fields ever assembled anywhere in the world. Yimer Mekonnen with a personal best time of 58:33 leads a very competitive men’s race of other seven sub 60 minutes half marathon runners. Feyisa Lilesa’s course record of 58:22 which he ran in 2012 and Brigid Kosgei’s 1:05:50 which she ran to win the race last year might both be under threat with fourteen women, led by Caroline Kipkirui’s 1:05.07, having their personal best times under 70 minutes.
For the first time, both this year’s Chevron Houston Marathon and the Aramco Houston Half Marathon will be run as part of the World Athletic Gold Label events.