Report14 Jan 2024

Kebede runs North American all-comers' half marathon record in Houston


Sutume Asefa Kebede celebrates her Houston Half Marathon win (© Kevin Morris / Houston Marathon Committee)

Ethiopia’s Sutume Asefa Kebede set a North American all-comers’ record of 1:04:37 to win the Aramco Houston Half Marathon, a World Athletics Gold Label road race, on Sunday (14).

The performance moves the 29-year-old to joint eighth on the women’s world half marathon all-time list and takes 26 seconds off the previous all-comers’ record of 1:05:03 set by Kenya’s Vicoty Chepngeno at the 2022 edition of the race. 

Chepngeno was also in action in Houston on Sunday and finished second on her marathon debut, clocking 2:19:55 in the Chevron Houston Marathon, also a World Athletics Gold Label road race, behind Ethiopia’s Rahma Tusa, who clocked a PB of 2:19:33 to secure victory.

The men’s races were won by Ethiopia’s Jemal Yimer, who ran 1:00:42 to triumph in the half marathon, and Morocco’s Zouhair Talbi, who took top spot in the marathon in a PB and course record of 2:06:39.

On a cool but bright morning, it was Kenya’s two-time world 5000m champion Hellen Obiri, winner of last year’s Boston and New York marathons, who led the women’s race through 5km (15:16) and 10km (30:28). But Kebede was right there with her, running in the pack alongside male runners.

That put them well inside all-comers’ record pace, but while Obiri was unable to maintain it, Kebede moved to the fore and had a five-second lead at 15km, which she passed in 45:42. She increased her advantage to 73 seconds by 20km and to a minute and a half by the finish, winning in 1:04:37 to Obiri’s 1:06:07.

The race in Houston was Kebede’s first since the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K in December, which she won in 1:18:47 to improve the previous women’s world best for the distance achieved in a stand-alone 25km race.

Ethiopia’s Buze Diriba was third in Houston in 1:06:24, finishing one second ahead of USA’s Weini Kelati, whose 1:06:25 on her half marathon debut improved the North American record. Ethiopia’s Mestawut Fikir was fifth in 1:07:36, while Kenya’s two-time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat was sixth in 1:07:52, a PB for the 44-year old that improves her previous best set in 2014.

In the men’s race, world half marathon fourth-place finisher Yimer regained the title he first won in 2020, clocking 1:00:42 to win by one second ahead of Kenya’s Wesley Kiptoo.

Ethiopia’s Milkesa Mengesha and USA’s Abbabiya Simbassa both recorded 1:00:45, finishing third and fourth, respectively.

Talbi takes marathon title in course record

Talbi ran his own race to win the men’s marathon. Running 37 seconds behind the leaders Hendrik Pfeiffer of Germany, Tsedat Ayana of Ethiopia and James Ngandu of Kenya at half way (1:03:40 for Talbi), the Moroccan made a move around 35km. He was seven seconds back at that point but picked up his pace and was 18 seconds ahead by 40km. 

Zouhair Talbi wins the Houston Marathon

Zouhair Talbi wins the Houston Marathon (© Kevin Morris / Houston Marathon Committee)

He couldn’t be caught and won in a PB of 2:06:39, taking 12 seconds off the 12-year-old course record.

Ayana was second in 2:07:00, while Pfeiffer and Patrick Tiernan of Australia also achieved respective Olympic qualifying marks of 2:07:14 and 2:07:45 in third and fourth place.

In the women’s race, Tusa also left it until the second half of the race to leave her rivals behind. After passing half way alongside Chepngeno and Ethiopia’s Bosena Mogesie in 1:09:23, she was 12 seconds ahead at 35km (1:55:08) and widened the gap to 22 seconds by the finish line, winning in 2:19:33.

Chepngeno ran 2:19:55 on her debut, while Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Melesech came through for third in 2:24:50.

Half marathon results
Marathon results