Ryan Hall punches the air with delight as he wins the 2007 USA Half Marathon Championship in Houston in 59:43 (© Victah Sailer)
At today’s 35th edition of the Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon, USA’s Ryan Hall ran 59:43 to win the shorter distance event, establishing an American record subject to the usual ratification procedures.
Both the men's and women's Half Marathon races were the official 2006 USA Championships for the distance.
The previous North American Half Marathon best of 1:00:28 was jointly held by two Mexicans, Dionicio Cerón (23 Jan 1994 in Tokyo) and Gérman Silva (Oslo 24 Sep 1994 in Oslo) set in Oslo in 1994. The USA record Hall beat is the 1:00:55 set in Philadelphia in 1985 by of Mark Curp.
Cool, cloudy but humid conditions met the competitors in the first race of the 2007 USA Running Circuit (USARC) as Hall, 24, who set a national 20km record (57:54) last October when finishing 11th in the IAAF World Road Running Championships in Debrecen, Hungary – a time he seems unofficially to have beaten with his run today – took charge from the start, leading Olympic silver medallist Meb Keflezighi (San Diego, Calif.), Dan Browne (Portland, Ore.), and Fasil Bizuneh (Bristol, Va.), through the first mile in 4:38.
By three miles Hall had opened a 15 second lead over Keflezighi, Browne and Bizuneh. Reaching 10km in 28:22, Hall had a 57 second advantage over his nearest rivals which would eventually grow to 1:43 by 15 km, as he passed in 42:22 to unofficially tie the U.S. mark for the distance.
Continuing to cruise through splits of 45:33 for 10 miles and 57:06 for 20 km, Hall, the current record holder for the latter distance, was unofficially faster than the U.S. marks for both distances.
Bizuneh managed to out-kick Keflezighi for the runner-up position running 1:02:20 to 1:02:22. Team USA Minnesota teammates Andrew Carlson and Jason Lehmkuhle rounded out the top five in 1:02:44 and 1:02:51 respectively.
Dryer takes women's title
The women's race saw Dryer and her 2004 U.S. Olympic teammate, O' Neill move to the front early to establish themselves as the main contenders for the U.S. title. Dryer was largely in control of the race, maintaining a lead of nearly five seconds through much of the first 10km.
As the pair approached eight miles, O' Neill made a move to match strides with Dryer and even take a few steps in the lead before Dryer retook her place in the lead and continued on to her first U.S. Half Marathon title 1:11:41, winning by four seconds in her debut at the distance.
Michelle Lilienthal (Philadelphia, Pa.) ran a personal best of 1:12:46 to finish third.
Tune takes 2:26 Marathon win
In the women's full Marathon, Ethiopia’s Dire Tune, 21, who was fourth at last year’s World Road Running Championships, beat Hungary’s Beáta Rakonczai (PB 2:29:54), and Russia’s defending Houston winner Firiya Sultanova-Zhdanova, in 2:26:52. The two fastest runner’s-up ran 2:30:14 and 2:39:06 respectively.
Tune's time broke Ingrid Kristiansen's 23 year-old course record.
In the men’s full distance, Feyisa Tusse won in 2:11:39.
Jim Estes, Victah Sailer and Chris Turner for the IAAF
1 FEYISA TUSSE 2:11:39
2 MIKHAIL KHOBOTOV RUS 2:13:56
3 BENSON CHERUIYOT KEN 2:14:03
1 DIRE TUNE ETH 2:26:52
2 BEATA RAKONCZAI HUN 2:30:14
3 FIRIYA SULTANOVA-ZHDANOVA RUS 2:39:06
1 RYAN HALL 59:43
2 FASIL BIZUNEH 1:02:20
3 MEBRAHTOM KEFLEZIGHI 1:02:22
1 ELVA DRYER 1:11:41
2 KATE O'NEILL 1:11:46
3 MICHELLE LILIENTHAL 1:12:44