Biruktayit retains Chevron Houston Marathon title
Ethiopian Biruktayit Degefa retained her title at the Chevron Houston Marathon and came within 14 seconds of the course record, while Kenya’s Albert Korir won a close men’s contest at the IAAF Silver Label road race on Sunday.
In a resounding three-minute victory, Biruktayit set a personal best of 2:23:28 and became the third woman in history to win the Houston Marathon three times. It was also the 13th consecutive win by an Ethiopian woman in Houston.
Biruktayit was challenged through 30 kilometers by Meseret Belete, the 19-year-old who holds the world Under-20 best for the half marathon and who was making her marathon debut.
But Meseret could not respond when Biruktayit picked up the pace just after 30 kilometres, and was passed near the finish by Belaynesh Fikadu, who finished as runner-up in 2:26:41.
Belete was third in 2:26:51, securing an Ethiopian sweep of the podium.
“When I prepare to come here to Houston, I really get excited,” said Biruktayit, who lives in Albuquerque but trained for this race in Ethiopia. “I come to win.”
Korir, meanwhile, had never been to the USA before and had to battle until the final kilometer when he slowly pulled ahead of Ethiopia’s Yitayal Atnafu to win in 2:10:02, six seconds ahead of the man who would become runner-up here for an astonishing fourth year in a row – on his 26th birthday, no less.
Justus Kimutai of Kenya finished third in 2:10:25 as less than a minute separated the first five finishers.
“I am grateful to win this race on my first time in America,” said 24-year-old Korir, who has finished on the podium in all of his marathons to date. (ANA)