Remember when Canadian women smashed the marathon distance in the fall of 2018? A lot of those same women are heading to the Houston Half-Marathon and Marathon in 12 days’ time for their first big race of 2019.
Natasha Wodak is the top Canadian entered, with a personal best of 1:11:20, which is just a minute off of the current Canadian record. Rachel Cliff bested Lanni Marchant’s time last January to set a new record at 1:10:08. Wodak is followed by Dayna Pidhoresky, 2018 Canadian Marathon Champion Kinsey Middleton, Canadian W40 marathon record holder Lyndsay Tessier and Canadian W45 marathon record holder Catherine Watkins. Both Tessier and Watkins ran huge personal bests at the 2018 Berlin Marathon.
Other women in the elite field are former World Half-Marathon Champion Gladys Cherono, Chicago 2018 winner Brigid Kosgei, and Fancy Chemutai, one of the youngest but also fastest in the field. Chemutai ran a blazing 1:04:52 last February in the United Arab Emirates. That time was only one second off of the women’s world record, which is held by Joyciline Jepkosgei in 1:04:51.
In the women’s marathon, Canadians Kate Bazeley and Sasha Gollish will compete against Kara Goucher, Houston defending champion Biruktayit Eshetu Degefa and Muluhabt Tsega, who ran a 2:25 marathon in November.
Houston will be Goucher’s first marathon in nearly three years. The former World Championship medallist said in an Instagram post two weeks ago, “I have no racing requirements in my four sponsorship/partnership contracts, I no longer feel like I need to prove anything to anyone, this is just for me. For my joy of running, training hard and running the marathon.”
Gollish lined up for her first marathon back in October, when she made it 31K through Berlin. She unfortunately didn’t complete her debut, and withdrew due to extreme cramping that caused her to slow to the point of walking and eventually falling. Houston will be Gollish’s first marathon since Berlin. Bazeley is a Newfoundlander and former Canadian Marathon Champion.