Wonderful Wacera Sets All-Comers Record
HOUSTON (January 17, 2016) – A record-setting day saw Ethiopians win three of four titles, including a sweep of the men’s and women’s Chevron Houston Marathon.
Kenya’s Mary Wacera ran the fastest-ever women’s half marathon on American soil Sunday, moving to No. 9 on the all-time world list as she shattered the course record with a 66:29 to win the Aramco Houston Half Marathon.
New Zealand’s Kim Smith set the previous all-comers record of 67:11 in 2011 at Philadelphia, while the course record of 68:26 was set in 2012 by Belyanesh Olijara of Ethiopia.
Wacera, who collected $45,000 for her record-setting win, made a move just after the 15-kilometer mark to take the lead from fellow Kenyan Cynthia Limo. She established a six-second gap over the next 5K and stretched the margin to 12 seconds at the finish. Limo’s 66:41 moved her to 11th on the all-time world list.
Last year’s world marathon champion, Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia, was also faster than the existing course record with a 1:07:55 in third, as was fourth-placer Ruti Aga of Ethiopia, who clocked 68:07. Sara Hall was the top American woman, setting a lifetime best with her 70:07 in fifth.
Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia ran the third-fastest men’s time ever at Houston, winning by eight seconds with his 60:37. Mosinet Geremew of Ethiopia was the runner-up at 60:45, and Luke Puskedra took the top U.S. spot in fourth at 61:29.
What started off as runaways Sunday in the Chevron Houston Marathon by Poland’s Artur Kozlowski and Australia’s Lisa Weightman, turned into a pair of Ethiopian victories.
Last year’s men’s runner-up Gebo Burka passed Kozlowski after the 35K mark, making up a 1:01 deficit from 30K as he ran stride for stride with countryman Girmay Gebru. The duo passed 40K together, and with less than a half-mile to go Burka pulled ahead and went on to win at 2:10:54. It was the eighth straight Houston win for Ethiopia.
Defending champion Birhanu Gedefa was third at 2:11:53, and Kozlowski ended up fifth at 2:14:11. Two-time winner Bazu Worku was sixth.
Kozlowski had a 20-second lead by 10K and added 19 seconds to that over the next 5K. He passed the half at 1:04:58, more than 50 seconds ahead of the chase pack that included Daniel Vargas of Mexico along with Gebru and Worku.
Gedefa was second at 25K, 58 seconds behind the leader, and by 30K he was 1:02 back, just behind Burka, Gebru and Yitayal Atanfu. Over the next 5K that group cut Kozlowski’s margin to 19 seconds, passing him for good just after that.
Weightman ran alone at the front of the women’s race until just before the 30K point, where Biruktayit Degefa pushed past her and pulled away to win at 2:26:07. Degefa was third last year after a fourth-place finish in 2014, and she ran the second half of her race in 1:12:20, 1:27 faster than the first 13.1 miles. Her win was the 10th in a row for Ethiopia.
Degefa was a minute back at the half, running with three other women, but the quartet made up 15 seconds over the next 5K.
After losing her lead, Weightman dropped back by 27 seconds over the next 5K and fell even farther behind by 40K. She held on to take second at 2:27:35 and 2015 fourth-placer Sechale Dalasa moved up one rung to place third at 2:28:43.