Running in rainy conditions, Bekana Daba and Mamitu Daska continued Ethiopian dominance at the Chevron Houston Marathon on Sunday (30) with victories in 2:07:04 and 2:26:33 respectively. Running in just his second Marathon, Daba broke the course and Texas all-comer’s records en route to a massive four-minute victory.
In the men’s race at the 39th edition, Daba, Kenyan Wilfred Murgor and American training partners Brett Gotcher and Nick Arciniaga were the contenders and the group hit the halfway point in 1:04:17.
As the drizzle turned to light rain around 80 minutes into the race, Daba, 22, began to pull away from the field and between the 25K and 30K he strung together three sub-4:40 miles to seal the win. He continued to push the pace though mile 23 and went unchallenged to the tape to shatter countryman Teshome Gelana’s 2010 course record by 33 seconds and also ran the fastest marathon time of the year. Daba, who ran the second half of the race in a fast 1:02:46, was also the third straight Ethiopian men’s race champion and the third straight to set a course record.
“I could have run faster with better competition and less rain, but I’m happy,” said Daba, who earned $35,000 for the victory.
His time would have been faster still had he not made a pit stop at a portable toilet in the 26th mile. Last season Daba broke 13 minutes in the 5000m at the Bislett Games in Oslo, but with this solid performance in less than ideal conditions, he may have found his real distance.
Arciniaga, 27, from Flagstaff, Ariz. was runner-up in in 2:11:30, an 18-second improvement on his personal best. Murgor hung on for third, crossing the line in 2:11:41.
Daska leads Ethiopian 1-2 in women's race
Most of the women’s race was led by either Daska, Ashu Kasim or Belainesh Gebre of Ethiopia – who reached the halfway mark in 1:12:16 – before it became a duel between Daska and Kasim at around 17 miles. At 25 miles, Daska, 27, made a break with a 5:17 mile that Kasim couldn’t follow and Daska hit the finish line alone to become the fifth straight women’s race champion from Ethiopia.
Kasim slowed, but kept her number two position to the line (2:27:47), while American Stephanie Rothstein, 27, from Flagstaff, Ariz. finished third in 2:29:35, knocking more than ten minutes from her personal best.
There were also six new 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon qualifiers: Jesse Davis and Kristen Fryburg-Zaitz, Emily Harrison, Nicole Hagobian, Natasha Labeaud and Sara Patrick. Houston will host the 2012 U.S. Men’s and Women’s Olympic Trials Marathon on 14 January 2012.
Jeff Eggleston, 26, Flagstaff, Ariz. and Colleen DeReuck, 46, Boulder, Colo. won the 10th Aramco Houston Half Marathon in 1:08:26 and 1:16:19 respectively. DeReuck also won the 2004 race.
Overall, there were 6,728 marathon starters and 9,114 half-marathon starters at the annual event.
Organisers for the IAAF
1) Bekana Daba (ETH), 2:07:04*
2) Nick Arciniaga (USA / AZ), 2:11:30
3) Wilfred Murgor (KEN), 2:11:41
4) Rob Watson (CAN), 2:16:17
5) Jesse Davis (USA / IN), 2:18:47
6) Brett Gotcher (USA / AZ), 2:19:30
*course and state record (previous record, 2:07:37, Teshome Gelana (ETH), 2010)
1) Mamitu Daska (ETH), 2:26:33
2) Ashu Kasim (ETH), 2:27:47
3) Stephanie Rothstein (USA / AZ), 2:29:35
4) Belainesh Gebre (ETH), 2:34:47
5) Selamie Getnet (ETH), 2:36:34