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Kitata wins Houston half, Esselink gets huge PB

2018 WSER champ Jim Walmsley qualifies for US Olympic marathon trials

The top three men finished within seven seconds of each other at this morning’s Houston Half-Marathon. Shura Kitata of Ethiopia was the winner, with a time of 60 minutes 11 seconds. His countryman Jemal Yimer followed in 60:14 and Kenya’s Bedan Karoki Muchiri in 60:18. (Kitata finished second in both the London and New York City Marathons in 2018, and will return to London this year.)

RELATED: The impending Canadian men’s showdown at Houston Marathon Weekend

Canada’s Evan Esselink was the top Canadian this morning, finishing in 14th position with a time of 62:17–49 seconds off the Canadian record of 61:28, set by Jeff Schiebler in 1999. (Only Canadian marathon record-holder Cam Levins ran faster in 2018, with a 62:15 at the half-marathon world championships in Valencia.) Chris Balestrini was the second Canadian, in 65:30, and Adam Hortian third Canadian, in 66:46.

Many eyes were on Jim Walmsley of Arizona, who set the course record at last year’s Western States Endurance Run, the iconic 100-mile trail race in California. It’s rare for trail runners to step outside their discipline (and the reverse is even rarer). Walmsley ran 64:00 flat today, exactly the time (to the second) that he needed to qualify for the US Olympic marathon trials. “The half-marathon is a test of your threshold pace, which isn’t used much, if at all, in an ultra,” Walmsley told Outside magazine in a Jan. 18 story. “A half-marathon time would show a lot more versatility and hopefully spark more excitement and interest into what that means translating to a marathon.” 

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Evan Esselink in 2018. Photo: Run Waterloo/Flickr.
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For full results, click here

Women’s results will be covered in a separate story.

Full marathon results to come.