The Canadian women’s line-up is looking stellar at the Houston Marathon Weekend, and so is the men’s. The half-marathon, which takes place 11 days from now, will be a showdown between Evan Esselink, Trevor Hofbauer, and Chris Balestrini. Esselink is the 2018 Canadian 10K champion with a half-marathon personal best of 1:04:08 from the same race last year.
Hofbauer made a big move in 2018 back to Calgary, where he’s originally from. The 2017 Canadian Marathon Champion has been training alone, coaching himself and loving it. He was hoping to do a half-marathon at Monterey Bay in 2018, but the race was cancelled due to the fires in California. Hofbauer is looking for a personal best in the half. He told Canadian Running in September, “I love the half-marathon, and not running a PB in the past three years has been bugging me, so I want to take care of that.”
Balestrini most recently raced in Barbados at the Run Barbados Race Weekend. The New Balance athlete has a personal best of 1:05:49 from STWM 2018.
The men’s half-marathon field is particularly strong, with five men having run under 1:00:00. The fastest entry is Olympic 10,000m finalist Bedan Karoki Muchiri of Kenya. He comes in with a personal best of 58:42:00. Another notable entry is Suguru Osako of Japan, who’s the national record-holder in the 5,000m and the marathon.
New Zealand’s Jake Robertson was planning to run the half, but has dropped out due to illness.
Tristan Woodfine is entered in the elite men’s marathon field. The Cobden, Ont. native has a marathon personal best from May 2018 at 2:18:55. Rejean Chiasson and Kip Kangogo are also entered in the marathon. Chiasson has a personal best of 2:17:48 and Kangogo, who’s the 2018 BMO Vancouver Half-Marathon winner, has a personal best of 2:15:26.
Other notable entries in the men’s marathon are World Half-Marathon 4th place finisher Abayneh Ayele of Ethiopia and one of the younger and faster entries, Yitayal Atnafu, also of Ethiopia.