City of Fort Worth Steps Up to Ensure Half Marathon Success New Records in Half Marathon as 12 Run Faster than Previous Race Bests
(Fort Worth, TX) - The 37th Cowtown was affected by unseasonable winter weather descending on Fort Worth canceling flights into area airports and turning streets and paths into sheets of ice and snow. Event officials were forced to cancel the Saturday races – 10K, Adults 5K and Cook Children’s 5K – as temperatures hovered in the high 20s and snow continued. With temperatures returning to the high 30s on Sunday, the race recognized that much of the marathon and 50K courses could not be cleared in time for a race start and canceled those races. The Half Marathon course was deemed salvageable and efforts were made to clear the 13.1 mile course to enable those wanting to run a Cowtown race to do so.
“With the valiant efforts of the City of Fort Worth, the Half Marathon course was cleared to ensure it would be safe for runners on Sunday. “We were disappointed that the other distances had to be canceled, but there was little that could be done on the sections of the course that went over park paths and more remote streets.” said, Heidi Swartz, Executive Director of The Cowtown.
The prize purses and recruitment efforts for the 2015 races, part of the Cowtown Elite! Program, were expected to bring in runners for exciting races and records in all of the Sunday race distances. However, with the Half Marathon becoming the only race that would be contested, the professional athletes who had come for the Marathon or 50K were added to the Half Marathon field. The prize money that was originally slated for the Marathon race was added to the Half Marathon purse creating a Half Marathon with more than $30,000 in prize money.
With bonuses offered to all who bettered the previous Half Marathon records of 1:09:27 for men and 1:18:05 for women, 12 athletes shot for and surpassed those marks. In the men’s race, three Kenyan runners (Hillary Too, Kipkoech Ruto and Peter Chebii) surged at mile 3 to break away from the other runners and from the start were on pace to finish well below the existing record.
By mile 10, Too began to build a lead on his compatriots and American Tyler McCandless was catching the stragglers and moving up in the ranks of the race. Through the final miles, Too continued strong to win in a new course record of 1:06:00 with McCandless nearly closing the gap to finish second in 1:06:17. Peter Chebii held on for the third spot in 1:06:52. Two other men finished faster than the previous course record: Kipkoech Ruto in fourth place in 1:07:00 and Al Escalera, of Terra Haute IN, finishing fifth in 1:09:14.
In the women’s run, it was a race between three women nearly from the beginning. Hirut Guangul (ETH), Lilian Mariita (KEN) and Susan Jerotich (KEN) broke away from the others by the third mile with Guangul and Mariita trading the lead until the final mile. Susan Jerotich stated after the race that she knew that if the race came down to a sprint finish she would win – and that was indeed the case as Jerotich pushed away from the others in the final mile to win in a new course record of 1:15:22. Lilian Maritta held on for second place in 1:15:25 and Hirut Guangul – originally planning to run the marathon – took third place in the Half Marathon in 1:15:31. Four other women ran times faster than the previous course record: Juliane Masciana of Austin, TX, fourth in 1:17:22; Zipporah Chebet (KEN) fifth in 1:17:28; Nuta Olaru of Longmont, CO, sixth in 1:17:43; and Grace Kahura (KEN) seventh in 1:17:47.
Swartz summarize the performances: “we couldn’t have been more impressed by the performance of these elite runners, the exciting races that the fans were able to experience. We were also impressed by the fortitude, spirit and understanding of all of those who participated in the 37th Cowtown in tough conditions. We made it through a tough year and look forward to running all of the races again in 2016!”