Fatuma Sado and Debebe Tolossa ahead of the 2015 Houston Marathon (Victah Sailer / organisers) © Copyright
Preview Houston, USA

Strong fields aiming for fast times in Houston

A strong field of elite athletes has been assembled for the 43rd edition of the Chevron Houston Marathon, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, on 18 January.

"Our professional fields for the marathon are particularly well-stocked with runners who have had promising debuts and other quality results," said race director Brant Kotch. “We think they're ready to step up and deliver some really stellar performances on our stage.”

Ethiopia’s Debebe Tolossa, the runner-up in 2012, leads the way in the men’s race. He set his PB of 2:07:41 when finishing second three years ago at just 20 years of age.

Compatriot Gebo Burka will set aside his normal pace-making duties this weekend to challenge Tolossa. The 27-year-old’s PB of 2:10:18 was set back in 2009, but he came close to that mark twice last year with victories in Santa Monica (2:10:37) and Sydney (2:11:18).

Kenya’s Silah Limo will be looking to rebound after a disappointing ninth-place finish in Shanghai last November. His only other marathon performance to date was his victory at the Brisbane Marathon earlier in 2014 when he set an Australian all-comers’ record of 2:09:14.

Fellow Kenyan Dominic Ondoro also only has two marathon performances to his name, but both of those have been victories. The faster of those, a 2:09:06, came on US soil.

US Half Marathon Championships runner-up Aaron Braun and Craig Leon are the top US entrants in the field. Braun debuted in the marathon last year, finishing seventh at the LA Marathon in 2:19:51. Leon had top-20 finishes in last year’s Boston and Chicago Marathons and owns a personal best of 2:13:52.

On the women’s side, Ethiopian Fatuma Sado is the top entrant. The 23-year-old Ethiopian has a personal best of 2:25:39 from her win at the 2012 LA Marathon. Sado’s last marathon outing saw her win the 2014 Beijing Marathon in 2:30:03, helping her to maintain her record of winning at least one marathon every year.

Her top challenger will be compatriot Biruktait Degefa, who is looking to improve upon her personal best of 2:26:22 that she set in Houston last year when she finished fourth. She won her most recent marathon, successfully defending her title in Sydney last September.

Another Ethiopian, Guteni Imana, is also entered. Last year she set a marathon PB of 2:30:23, but her half-marathon PB of 1:08:31, also set last year, suggests she could be set to run even quicker over the full distance.

The top US woman in the field is Serena Burla, who returns to Houston after winning the 2014 USA Half Marathon Championships. In 2013, Burla ran a personal best of 2:28:01 when she finished as the runner-up at the Amsterdam Marathon.

Just a few weeks after finishing as the runner-up at the 2010 USA Half Marathon Championships, Burla was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma and had a sizable tumour surgically removed from her right hamstring. That July, in her comeback race, she won the Boston Scientific Heart of Summer 10km in Minneapolis in 33:58.

Kellyn Johnson will make her marathon debut after setting a personal best of 1:11:50 in winning the 2014 St Louis Half Marathon.   

Organisers for the IAAF

Men's field
Debebe Tolossa (ETH)
Gebo Burka (ETH)
Silah Limo (KEN)
Gadisa Shumie (ETH)
Dominic Ondoro (KEN)
Erick Mose (KEN)
Birhanu Degefa (ETH)
Lema Tola (ETH)
Craig Leon (USA)
Aaron Braun (USA)
Ahmed Osman (USA)
Jesse Davis (USA)
Jonathan Mott (USA)
Simon Stuetzel (GER)
Javier Ceja (USA)
Michael Wardian (USA)
Bennett Grimes (USA)
Tony Migliozzi (USA)

Women's field
Fatuma Sado (ETH)
Biruktait Degefa (ETH)
Guteni Imana (ETH)
Yebrgual Arage (ETH)
Sechale Dalasa (ETH)
Misiker Demissie (ETH)
Serena Burla (USA)
Kellyn Taylor (USA)
Goitetom Haftu (ETH)
Lindsay Flanagan (USA)
Lingling Jin (CHN)
Nicole Camp (USA)
Danielle Miller (USA)
Meghan Roth (USA)
Catherine Watkins (CAN)