Youth Trumps Weather in Houston as Ethiopians Take clean sweep of titles
On a day where Ethiopia dominated all four races, 20-year-old Merima Mohammed overcame leg problems and cold, wet conditions to run the second-fastest ever womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s race at the Chevron Houston Marathon on Sunday (13), while countryman Bazu Worku, 22, ran away with the menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s title.
World bronze medallist Feyisa Lilesa defended his title in the menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Aramco Houston Half Marathon and Mamitu Daska, the 2011 Chevron Houston Marathon champion, won the womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s crown. Daska is the first-ever woman to win the marathon and the half marathon at Houston.
MohammedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s late break proves decisive
Mohammed ran the first half of the race with fellow Ethiopians Bizunesh Deba and Meskerem Assefa and that trio stayed together through 33km, when Mohammed made a strong move and broke away. She stretched her lead to 47 seconds over Deba by the 40km mark and crossed the line in 2:23:37, missing the course record by 23 seconds.
Deba, the runner-up of the 2011 New York Marathon, finished second in 2:24:26, which is the fifth-fastest time in race history. Showing great range for an athlete who boasts PBs of 2:02.12 and 4:02.12 for 800m and 1500m, Assefa finished third on her marathon debut in 2:25:17.
“I had a problem with my left leg,” Mohammed told reporters through a translator while massaging her left calf. “It was hurting badly. It was a very painful situation.”
Worku wins by more than two minutes
Worku, who had been running in a pack of nine early in the race, came through the half-way mark in 65:25 with five others. But by 25km, he had opened up a 50-second lead over team-mate Solomon Molla.
Worku continued to stretch that lead with every mile and finished in 2:10:17, winning by more than two-and-a-half minutes. Teferi Balcha claimed runner-up honours in 2:12:50, while Molla held on for third in 2:14:37.
Daska and Lilesa take half-marathon titles
Course record-holder Lilesa ran side-by-side with Deriba Merga until the pair entered the home stretch, where Lilesa used his superior speed to win in 61:54. Merga, winner of the Houston Marathon in 2009, was second in 62:00, while KenyaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Wilson Loyanai made a late surge to take third in 62:12.
Daska took command early in the race, leading through 5km in 16:18, and then doubled her margin by the 10km mark, reached in 32:42. At 15km, she had a 1:27 lead over Caroline Kilel of Kenya and her margin of victory was 2:05 when she crossed the line in 69:53, the fifth-fastest time in race history.
Kilel finished as the runner-up for the second year in a row, finishing in 71:58 as her team-mate Hellen Jemutai was third in 72:34.
Organisers for the IAAF
Men – marathon
1 Bazu Worku (ETH) 2:10:17
2 Teferi Balcha (ETH) 2:12:50
3 Solomon Molla (ETH) 2:14:37
4 Birhanu Gedefa (ETH)Ã‚Â 2:15:21
5 Dereje Abera (ETH) 2:17:09
Men – half-marathon
1 Feyisa Lilesa (ETH) 61:54
2 Deriba Merga (ETH) 62:00
3 Wilson Loyanai (KEN) 62:12
4 Shadrack Biwott (USA) 62:23
5 Luke Puskedra (USA) 62:32
Women – marathon
1 Merima Mohammed (ETH) 2:23:37
2 Bizunesh Deba (ETH) 2:24:26
3 Meskerem Assefa (ETH) 2:25:17
4 Meseret Legese (ETH) 2:30:31
5 Olena Burkovska (UKR) 2:34:56
Women – half-marathon
1 Mamitu Daska (ETH) 69:53
2 Caroline Kilel (KEN) 71:58
3 Hellen Jemutai (KEN) 72:34
4 Chemtai Rionotukei (KEN) 72:58
5 Zemzem Ahmed (ETH) 73:25