Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ethiopians Birhanu Gedefa, Yebrgual Arage win 2015 Houston Marathon

As expected, Ethiopia's dominance of the Chevron Houston Marathon continued Sunday with Birhanu Gedefa making a dramatic finishing kick downtown to blow past his countryman Gebo Burka, who had led for much of the race.

Gedefa, who surged to the front about a quarter of a mile from the finish line at Lamar and Crawford Streets near the George R. Brown Convention Center, unofficially ran a personal best 2:08:12. Tolossa, the runner-up in 2012, also posted his fastest time ever, a 2:09:07. Two other men cracked 2:10 under perfect conditions, with temperatures in the high 40s and bright sunshine.

Yebrgual Arage won the women's race in 2:23:23 unofficially, also breaking open a tight race late. If her time holds up, it will be the second fastest in 43 Houston competitions. Alemitu Abera of Ethiopia set the record of 2:23:14 in 2012. Guteni Imana was second among the women in 2:23:51.

The top American finisher was Aaron Braun in 2:12:54, good for seventh place. Kellen Taylor, with a 2:28:40, placed sixth and was first among the American women.

Runners from Ethiopia swept the top three spots in both races. Ethiopian men have won the last seven championships and Ethiopian women have prevailed every winter going back to 2007.

Bazu Worku prevailed the last two years but pulled out last week for undisclosed reasons.

Nearly 25,000 runners were on Houston's streets in the marathon and half marathon combined. It's the city's largest annual sporting event.