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Houston Marathon and Half announce bonkers elite fields

That bonkers elite list includes three Canadian record-holders and an Olympic qualifier

Houston, we have some very exciting races coming up. In 11 days’ time, some of the best runners in the world will toe the line at the Chevron Houston Marathon (and don’t forget the equally competitive half-marathon).

RELATED: Malindi Elmore’s back from injury and ready to race in Houston

The full

Leading the way in the women’s full marathon are six Ethiopian women who all own personal bests under 2:27:00. The fastest among them is Bruktayit Degefa Eshetu who was second at the 2019 STWM, where she ran her PB of 2:22:40.

There are fewer Americans entered in the full, as the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials are only weeks away, but Alexi Pappas (who competes from Greece but is a dual American-Greek citizen) is one to watch. She’s only run one marathon, a 2:43:38 in Chicago, but certainly has more to offer the event.


Canadians Malindi Elmore, Natasha LaBeaud and Anne Johnston are also set to compete. Elmore shocked Canadian runners a year ago when she ran a 2:32 marathon debut in Houston, which she would later describe as “a fun family project.” Since her debut, Elmore’s cranked out several impressive times, including a 1:11:08 half-marathon and a 32:44 10K. The original plan was to run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, which doubled as the 2020 Olympic Trials. Elmore pulled out one week from the race due to a hamstring injury.

RELATED: Malindi Elmore withdraws from STWM due to injury

Elmore was targeting the Olympic standard of 2:29:30 and the automatic qualification spot that came from winning STWM. If she was successful, she would have qualified for her second Olympic team, 16 years and two babies after qualifying for her first (she competed in the 2004 Olympics for the 1,500m). The runner still has until May to run standard and Houston will be an attempt to run a personal best.

In the men’s race, the top 10 seed times all fall under 2:10. This group of men, that includes 2:05:56 runner Woldaregay Gezahegn, on the right day could certainly find themselves breaking the course record of 2:06:51.

The half

Because the U.S. trials are looming, the half-marathon is packed with American talent. In the women’s race you’ve got American record-holder Molly Huddle, 2:20 marathoner Jordan Hasay and Sara Hall. Internationally there’s 1:05 runner Caroline Kipkirui, third-place finisher at Chicago 2019 Gelete Burka and defending Tokyo Marathon champion Ruti Aga.

Molly Huddle and Sara Hall

The list is also filled with Canadian talent that includes Canadian record holder Rachel Cliff, Canadian 10,000m record-holder Natasha Wodak, Olympic marathon qualifier Dayna Pidhoresky and honorary Canadian and 5K All-Comers record-holder Sarah Inglis.

RELATED: Canadians with a real shot at the upcoming Olympics

In the men’s half, Shura Kitata leads the charge. The 59:16 half-marathoner is the defending champion but reclaiming the title won’t be easy. Jake Robertson of New Zealand, the 2018 champion, will be vying for that same position.

Cam Levins before STWM 2019 start. Photo: Maxine Gravina

Canadians to watch for in the half are Canadian marathon record holder Cam Levins and Rory Linkletter, who’s making his half-marathon debut (side note: he ran his marathon debut before his half). Levins and Linkletter both ran the STWM in October, with Levins finishing in a disappointing 2:15. Linkletter, on the other hand, ran a pretty impressive debut, coming across the line in 2:16.

The half and full marathons get underway January 19 at 7:01 a.m. CST.

Complete elite lists can be found here.