Chevron Houston Marathon: Ethiopians sweep again

Yebrqual MeleseNear-perfect conditions yielded speedy performances at the 43rd Chevron Houston Marathon as Yebrqual Melese ran the second-fastest time ever by a woman in Houston and Birhanu Gidefa outkicked Gebo Burka to take the men’s title at the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race on Sunday (18).

It was the seventh straight sweep of the titles by Ethiopia. In fact, they filled the top five places in the women’s race and the three podium positions in the men’s contest.

An Ethiopian victory in the women’s race came as no surprise as a leading group of five athletes from the East African nation formed early on. Led by former Toronto Marathon runner-up Sechale Dalasa, the quintet passed through 5km in 17:23, 10km in 34:28 and half way in 1:12:43.

Former Los Angeles Marathon winner Fatuma Sado was the first to drop from the pack, slipping behind after 25km. Biruktayit Degefa Eshetu attempted to make a break soon after and at 30km she had a 14-second margin over her three compatriots, but she was soon reeled in by Guteni Shone Imana as the pair passed through 35km in 1:59:43.

Melese, who at 30km was some 17 seconds behind the leaders, then made her move. Having already dropped Dalasa, she closed in on Eshetu and eventually fought off the challenge of Shone on the way to a 2:23:23 victory, taking almost three minutes off her PB.

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