Houston Marathon Committee Announces 2020 Elite Athlete Fields

09 Jan 2020 11:33
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Press Release

HOUSTON (January 7, 2020) – The Houston Marathon Committee (HMC) announced today a stellar elite field for the forty-eighth running of the Chevron Houston Marathon and the eighteenth Aramco Houston Half Marathon events taking place on Jan. 19, 2020.

For the first year ever in HMC history, both the Chevron Houston Marathon and the Aramco Houston Half Marathon are World Athletic Gold Label events. This makes Houston home to the only Gold Label marathon and half marathon events in the United States, as well as the only Gold Label marathon and half marathon events in the world that are hosted on the same day. This status is awarded by meeting several criteria with the caliber of the elite field playing a major role.

“The awarding of gold label status marks the culmination of many years of dedication to the elite athletes in our sport,” said Chevron Houston Marathon Race Director and Board President Brant Kotch. “We are proud to showcase our support of these athletes through this recognition and feel it further emphasizes our commitment to clean sport.”

Returning Champions

The Chevron Houston Marathon welcomes back defending 2019 women’s champion Biruktayit Degefa, where she will try to become the only woman to break the tape in Houston four times. The Aramco Houston Half Marathon returns three former champions; 2018 female champion Ruti Aga, and past male winners; Shura Kitata (defending 2019 champion) and Jake Robertson (2018).

Elite Field as of Jan. 7, 2020

Men's Marathon              Citizenship   Personal Best 
Woldaregay   Kelkile Gezahegn    ETH      2:05:56 
Hassan       El Abbassi          BRN      2:04:43 
John         Langat              KEN      2:07:11 
Benson       Seurei              BRN      2:07:37 
Dominic      Ondoro              KEN      2:08:51 
Abdi         Ibrahim Abdo        BRN      2:08:32 
Paul         Maina               KEN      2:08:49 
Bonsa        Dida                ETH      2:09:04 
Tsegay       Tuemay              ERI      2:09:07 
Tariku       Bekele              ETH      2:09:30 
Belay        Tilahun Bezabeh     ETH      DEBUT 
Stephen      Scullion            IRE      2:12:01 
Birhanu      Dare                KEN      2:12:21 
Mark         Lokwanamoi          KEN      2:08:39 
Alexis       Nizeyimana          TAN      2:13:06 
Jose Antonio Uribe Marino        MEX      2:14:45 
Craig        Hunt                USA      2:15:29 
Rory         Tunningley          USA      2:16:25 
Tony         Migliozzi           USA      2:16:44 
Dylan        Belles              USA      2:16:59 
Thomas       Puzey               USA      2:18:20 
Michael      Roeger              AUS      2:23:31 
Dan          Harper              USA      2:17:32 
Amanuel      Mesel               ETH      2:08:17 

Women's Marathon            Citizenship   Personal Best 
Bruktayit    Degefa Eshetu       ETH      2:22:40 
Askale       Merachi             ETH      2:24:13 
Shuko        Wote Genemo         ETH      2:24:28 
Muluhabt     Tsega               ETH      2:25:48 
Belaynesh    Fikadu              ETH      2:26:41 
Meseret      Belete              ETH      2:26:56 
Milliam      Ebongon             KEN      2:27:16 
Bekelech     Gudeta              ETH      2:27:40 
Sechale      Dalasa              ETH      2:28:46 
Alexi        Pappas              GRC      2:43:38 
Ayantu       Dakebo Hailemaryam  ETH      2:30:06 
Malindi      Elmore              CAN      2:32:15 
Hiruni       Wijayaratne         LKA      2:34:10 
Adriana      Nelson-Pirtea       USA      2:35:45 
Natasha      LaBeaud             CAN      2:37:11 
Dylan        Hassett             IRE      2:39:55 
Brenda       Flores Munoz        MEX      DEBUT 
Neely        Spence-Gracey       USA      2:34:55 
Anne         Johnston            CAN      2:43:02 
Andrea       Soraya Limon        MEX      DEBUT 
Ursula       Sanchez             MEX      DEBUT 
 
Men's Half Marathon         Citizenship   Personal Best 
Tola Shura   Kitata              ETH      59:16:00 
Jake         Robertson           NZ       59:58:00 
Bernard      Kipkorir Ngeno      KEN      59:07:00 
Andamlak     Belihu Berta        ETH      59:10:00 
Jemal        Yimer Mekonnen      ETH      58:33:00 
Abel         Kipchumba           KEN      59:29:00 
Shadrack     Kimining Korir      KEN      59:32:00 
Philemon     Kiplimo             KEN      59:57:00 
Gabriel      Gerald Geay         TAN      1:00:26 
Jared        Ward                USA      1:01:42 
Sam          Chelanga            USA      1:00:37 
Diego        Estrada             USA      1:00:51 
Bethwel      Yegon               KEN      1:00:57 
Shadrack     Biwott              USA      1:01:25 
Reed         Fischer             USA      1:02:06 
Matt         Llano               USA      1:01:47 
James        Ngandu              KEN      1:01:51 
Jerrell      Mock                USA      1:02:15 
Cameron      Levins              CAN      1:02:15 
Dominic      Korir               KEN      1:02:17 
Andrew       Colley              USA      1:02:24 
Willie       Milam               USA      1:02:26 
John         Raneri              USA      1:02:31 
Futsum       Zeinasellassie      USA      1:02:33 
Matthew      McClintock          USA      1:02:34 
Brogan       Austin              USA      1:02:39 
Alex         Monroe              USA      1:02:44 
Luis         Alberto Orta        VEN      1:03:09 
Louis        Serafini            USA      1:03:14 
Andrew       Epperson            USA      1:03:17 
Kevin        Lewis               USA      1:03:26 
Tyler        Jermann             USA      1:03:31 
Clayton      Young               USA      1:03:40 
Danny        Docherty            USA      1:03:47 
Kai          Takeshita           JAP      1:03:53 
Tyler        Pennel              USA      1:04:06 
Daisuke      Momozawa            JAP      1:04:09 
Matt         Leach               GBR      1:04:21 
Raymond      Magut               KEN      1:04:22 
Juan         Paredes             USA      1:05:09 
Grant        Fischer             USA      1:05:26 
Rory         Linkletter          CAN      DEBUT 
Joel         Reichow             USA      DEBUT 
Andrew       Leach               USA       

Women's Half Marathon       Citizenship   Personal Best 
Caroline     Chepkoech Kipkirui  KEN      1:05:07 
Lonah        Chemtai Salpeter    ISR      1:06:09 
Gelete       Burka               ETH      1:06:11 
Dorcas       Jepchirchir Tuitoek KEN      1:06:33 
Ruti         Aga                 ETH      1:06:39 
Brillian     Jepkorir Kipkoech   KEN      1:07:12 
Molly        Huddle              USA      1:07:25 
Jordan       Hasay               USA      1:07:55 
Sara         Hall                USA      1:09:27 
Hitomi       Niiya               JAP      1:11:41 
Monicah      Ngige Wanjuhi       KEN      1:07:29 
Dorcas       Kimeli              KEN      1:07:44 
Caroline     Rotich              KEN      1:08:52 
Gotytom      Gebreslase          ETH      1:08:58 
Aliphine     Tuliamuk            USA      1:09:16 
Rachel       Cliff               CAN      1:10:08 
Laura        Thweatt             USA      1:10:17 
Katy         Jermann             USA      1:10:27 
Molly        Seidel              USA      1:10:27 
Natasha      Wodak               CAN      1:10:33 
Elaina       Tabb                USA      1:10:44 
Bethany      Sachtleben          USA      1:10:44 
Stephanie    Twell               GBR      1:10:52 
Becky        Wade                USA      1:11:15 
Dayna        Pidhoresky          CAN      1:11:46 
Lindsay      Flanagan            USA      1:12:05 
Sarah        Inglis              GBR      1:12:23 
Samantha     Bluske              USA      1:12:32 
Jessica      Watychovicz         USA      1:12:35 
Alexis       Zeis                USA      1:12:43 
Jennifer     Bergman             USA      1:13:15 
Molly        Grabill             USA      1:13:19 
Allison      Cleaver             USA      1:13:21 
Keira        D'Amato             USA      1:13:32 
Maggie       Montoya             USA      1:13:33 
Dakotah      Lindwurm            USA      1:13:39 
Kelsey       Bruce               USA      1:13:41 
Valerie      Sanchez             USA      1:13:44 
Julia        Kohnen              USA      1:13:47 
Meghan       Armstrong-Peyton    USA      1:13:56 
Nell         Rojas               USA      1:14:17 
Emily        Durgin              USA      DEBUT 
Annie        Frisbie             USA      DEBUT 

Prize Purse

The 2020 Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Marathon will continue to award prize money to the top eight finishers in all four races. A total of $291,000 in guaranteed prize money will be awarded, including a $45,000 first place payout for both the men’s and women’s champions at the 2020 Chevron Houston Marathon and a $20,000 first place payout for both the men’s and women’s champions at the 2020 Aramco Houston Half Marathon.

For a complete list of prize money please visit: www.chevronhoustonmarathon.com/participants/elites/

Additional Athlete Stories of Interest

Chevron Houston Marathon

- Thomas Rivers Puzey – The outlier story of the 2019 Chevron Houston Marathon, Puzey returns to Houston with unfinished business. After pacing through the 30K of 2019’s race on track to run 2:14, the wheels came off for Puzey. He managed to stumble across the finish line with an official finish time of 2:20:19 and a trip to the medic. He will undoubtably again push himself to his limits.

- Biruktayit Degefa has an opportunity to make history in her seventh consecutive appearance – if she wins, she will be the first athlete in Houston Marathon history, male or female, to win the race four times. In 2019, she became just the third female in race history to win three times. Degefa started running marathons at age 19, and she is one of the most prolific elite runners competing today. Over the last decade, she has run an incredible 31 marathons (she ran six alone in 2014), landing on the podium 20 times and winning eight times. She returns this year as a favorite for the title, especially on the heels of her PR in Toronto, 2:22:40, to close out 2019.

- Alexi Pappas, a 2016 Olympian for Greece in the 10,000m (she holds dual Greek-American citizenship), arrives in Houston with a 2:43:38 marathon personal best, but possesses the talent to completely obliterate that time and run closer to the 2:29:30 Olympic standard that she needs to make it to Tokyo for another Olympic appearance. Pappas experienced an extraordinary Olympic debut performance in Rio. She set the Greek national 10,000m record and a new PR to finish 17th in 31:36.16.

- Neely Spence Gracey runs her first marathon post-pregnancy after welcoming a baby boy in July of 2018. She has her sights set on qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Trials, after injury and illness kept her from competing in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Trials. Prior to pregnancy, Neely won the 2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon and then made her debut at the Boston Marathon. She finished in 2:35 – securing her spot as the top American, and ninth overall. After recovering from Boston, Neely won the Rock ’n; Roll Chicago Half Marathon, and then closed out the year with an 8th place finish, (2nd American behind Molly Huddle), at the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon (2:34). Aramco Houston Half Marathon

- Shura Kitata will look to defend his 2019 title on the heels of his fifth-place finish at the New York City Marathon just a few short months ago. He will be facing several of the same challengers from the 2019 Aramco Houston Half Marathon, so if past precedent remains the same, we are sure to see a fast and competitive race from the gun.

- Jake Robertson, 2018 Aramco Houston Half Marathon Champion, returns to Houston after a troubled 2019 fighting injury and rebuilding. After winning in Houston, he went on to win a competitive Beach to Beacon 10K and finished out the year with a fifth-place finish at the Toronto Marathon in 2018 but hasn’t toed the start line in over a year. All eyes will be watching to see his return to the racing scene.

- Ruti Aga – Aga returns to familiar territory in Houston as the 2018 Women’s Champion of the Aramco Houston Half Marathon. Her finishing time of 1:06:39 from the race remains her personal best. Aga is certain to be in the lead pack vying for the win once again.

- Molly Huddle – The Women’s American Half Marathon Record Holder, Huddle returns to Houston and the course she set the current standard of 1:07:25 on to test her fitness going into the 2020 Olympic Trials in February. She currently lives and trains in Providence, Rhode Island with her husband Kurt Benninger and Coach Ray Treacy.

- Jordan Hasay – With a marathon PR of 2:20:57 and now working alongside Coaching Advisor, Paula Radcliffe, Hasay is a favorite to make the U.S. Women’s Marathon Team for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. After a string of hamstring injuries that left Hasay on the sidelines for most of the past year, she comes to Houston as part of her final build to gauge her fitness heading into the Olympic Trials in Atlanta next month.

- Sarah Hall – Hall enters the 2020 season with her eyes set on making a third U.S. Olympic team. On the heels of a massive marathon PR of 2:20:16 in Berlin last year, Houston will be a preview of her fitness level and her future in 2020. Athlete Development Program

The 2020 Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon boasts the largest Athlete Development Program field in the history of the events. More than 450 runners have met the qualifying standard to be categorized in this field where many will make their last attempt at achieving the Olympic Trials Qualifying standard to compete in Atlanta in a mere six weeks.