HOUSTON (January 7, 2020) – The Houston Marathon Committee (HMC) announced today a stellar elite field for the forty-eighth running of the Chevron Houston Marathon and the eighteenth Aramco Houston Half Marathon eventtaking place Jan. 19, 2020.  

For the first year ever in HMC history, both the Chevron Houston Marathon and the Aramco Houston Half Marathon are World Athletic Gold Label events. This makes Houston home to the only Gold Label marathon and half marathon events in the United States, as well as the only global Gold Label marathon and half marathon events hosted on the same day. This status is awarded by meeting several criteriawith the caliber of the elite field playing a major role. 

“The awarding of gold label status marks the culmination of many years of dedication to the elite athletes in our sport,” said Chevron Houston Marathon Race Director and Board President Brant Kotch. “We are proud to showcase our support of these asathletes through this recognition and feel it further emphasizes our commitment to clean sport.” 

Returning Champions 

The Chevron Houston Marathon welcomes back defending 2019 women’s champion Biruktayit Degefa, where she will try to become the only woman to win here in Houston four times, and the Aramco Houston Half Marathon returns three former champions; 2018 female champion Ruti Aga, and past male winners; Shura Kitata (defending 2019 champion) and Jake Robertson (2018). 

Elite Field as of Jan. 12, 2020

Men’s Marathon

(First name, Last name) 


Personal Best

Hassan  El Abbassi  BRN  2:04:43 
Woldaregay  Kelkile Gezahegn  ETH  2:05:56 
John  Langat  KEN  2:07:11 
Benson  Seurei  BRN  2:07:37 
Amanuel  Mesel  ERI 2:08:17 
Abdi  Ibrahim Abdo  BRN  2:08:32 
Mark  Lokwanamoi  KEN  2:08:39 
Dominic  Ondoro  KEN  2:08:51 
Bonsa  Dida  ETH  2:09:04 
Tsegay  Tuemay  ERI  2:09:07 
Tariku  Bekele  ETH  2:09:30 
Stephen  Scullion  IRE  2:12:01 
Birhanu  Dare  KEN  2:12:21 
Alexis  Nizeyimana  TAN  2:13:06 
Craig  Hunt  USA  2:15:29 
Rory  Tunningley  USA  2:16:25 
Tony  Migliozzi  USA  2:16:44 
Dylan  Belles  USA  2:16:59 
Thomas  Puzey  USA  2:18:20 
Dan  Harper  USA  2:17:32 
Michael  Roeger  AUS  2:23:31 
Belay  Tilahun Bezabeh  ETH  DEBUT 


Women’s Marathon

(First name, Last name) 


Personal Best

Bruktayit  Degefa Eshetu  ETH  2:22:40 
Askale  Merachi  ETH  2:24:13 
Shuko  Wote Genemo  ETH  2:24:28 
Muluhabt  Tsega  ETH  2:25:48 
Meseret  Belete  ETH  2:26:56 
Milliam  Ebongon  KEN  2:27:16 
Bekelech  Gudeta  ETH  2:27:40 
Sechale  Dalasa  ETH  2:28:46 
Ayantu  Dakebo Hailemaryam  ETH  2:30:06 
Malindi  Elmore  CAN  2:32:15 
Hiruni  Wijayaratne  LKA  2:34:10 
Neely  Spence-Gracey  USA  2:34:55 
Adriana  Nelson-Pirtea  USA  2:35:45 
Natasha  LaBeaud  CAN  2:37:11 
Dylan  Hassett  IRE  2:39:55 
Anne  Johnston  CAN  2:43:02 
Alexi  Pappas  GRC  2:43:38 
Brenda  Flores Munoz  MEX  DEBUT 
Andrea  Soraya Limon  MEX  DEBUT 
Ursula  Sanchez  MEX  DEBUT 


Men’s Half Marathon

(First name, Last name) 


Personal Best

Jemal  Yimer Mekonnen  ETH  58:33
Bernard  Kipkorir Ngeno  KEN  59:07
Andamlak  Belihu Berta  ETH  59:10
Tola Shura  Kitata  ETH  59:16
Abel  Kipchumba  KEN  59:29
Jake  Robertson  NZ  59:58
Shadrack  Kimining Korir  KEN  59:32
Geoffrey  Koech Korir  KEN  59:50
Philemon  Kiplimo  KEN  59:57
Gabriel  Gerald Geay  TAN  1:00:26 
Sam  Chelanga  USA  1:00:37 
Diego  Estrada  USA  1:00:51 
Bethwel  Yegon  KEN  1:00:57 
Shadrack  Biwott  USA  1:01:25 
Jared  Ward  USA  1:01:42 
Matt  Llano  USA  1:01:47 
James  Ngandu  KEN  1:01:51 
Reed  Fischer  USA  1:02:06 
Cameron  Levins  CAN  1:02:15 
Dominic  Korir  KEN  1:02:17 
Andrew  Colley  USA  1:02:24 
Willie  Milam  USA  1:02:26 
John  Raneri  USA  1:02:31 
Futsum  Zeinasellassie  USA  1:02:33 
Matthew  McClintock  USA  1:02:34 
Brogan  Austin  USA  1:02:39 
Alex  Monroe  USA  1:02:44 
Luis  Alberto Orta  VEN  1:03:09 
Andrew  Epperson  USA  1:03:17 
Kevin  Lewis  USA  1:03:26 
Tyler  Jermann  USA  1:03:31 
Clayton  Young  USA  1:03:40 
Danny  Docherty  USA  1:03:47 
Kai  Takeshita  JAP  1:03:53 
Tyler  Pennel  USA  1:04:06 
Daisuke  Momozawa  JAP  1:04:09 
Matt  Leach  GBR  1:04:21 
Juan  Paredes  USA  1:05:09 
Grant  Fischer  USA  1:05:26 
Rory  Linkletter  CAN  DEBUT 
Andrew  Leach  USA   


Women’s Half Marathon

(First name, Last name) 


Personal Best

Caroline  Chepkoech Kipkirui  KEN  1:05:07 
Gelete  Burka  ETH  1:06:11 
Dorcas  Jepchirchir Tuitoek  KEN  1:06:33 
Ruti  Aga  ETH  1:06:39 
Brillian  Jepkorir Kipkoech  KEN  1:07:12 
Molly  Huddle  USA  1:07:25 
Sara  Hall  USA  1:09:27 
Hitomi  Niiya  JAP  1:11:41 
Monicah  Ngige Wanjuhi  KEN  1:07:29 
Dorcas  Kimeli  KEN  1:07:44 
Caroline  Rotich  KEN  1:08:52 
Gotytom  Gebreslase  ETH  1:08:58 
Aliphine  Tuliamuk  USA  1:09:16 
Rachel  Cliff  CAN  1:10:08 
Laura  Thweatt  USA  1:10:17 
Katy  Jermann  USA  1:10:27 
Molly  Seidel  USA  1:10:27 
Emebet  Anteneh  ETH  1:10:32 
Natasha  Wodak  CAN  1:10:33 
Elaina  Tabb  USA  1:10:44 
Bethany  Sachtleben  USA  1:10:44 
Stephanie  Twell  GBR  1:10:52 
Becky  Wade  USA  1:11:15 
Dayna  Pidhoresky  CAN  1:11:46 
Lindsay  Flanagan  USA  1:12:05 
Sarah  Inglis  GBR  1:12:23 
Kinsey  Middleton  CAN  1:12:30 
Samantha  Bluske  USA  1:12:32 
Jessica  Watychovicz  USA  1:12:35 
Emily  Setlack  USA  1:12:36 
Jaci  Smith  USA  1:12:40 
Alexis  Zeis  USA  1:12:43 
Jennifer  Bergman  USA  1:13:15 
Molly  Grabill  USA  1:13:19 
Allison  Cleaver  USA  1:13:21 
Keira  D’Amato  USA  1:13:32 
Maggie  Montoya  USA  1:13:33 
Dakotah  Lindwurm  USA  1:13:39 
Kelsey  Bruce  USA  1:13:41 
Valerie  Sanchez  USA  1:13:44 
Julia  Kohnen  USA  1:13:47 
Meghan  Armstrong-Peyton  USA  1:13:56 
Nell  Rojas  USA  1:14:17 
Emily  Durgin  USA  DEBUT 
Rebitu  Bontu Edao  BRN  DEBUT 
Annie  Frisbie  USA  DEBUT 


Prize Purse

The 2020 Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Marathon will continue to award prize money to the top eight finishers in all four races. A total of $291,000 in guaranteed prize money will be awarded, including a $45,000 first place payout for both the men’s and women’s champions at the 2020 Chevron Houston Marathon and a $20,000 first place payout for both the men’s and women’s champions at the 2020 Aramco Houston Half Marathon. 

For a complete list of prize money please visit: www.chevronhoustonmarathon.com/participants/elites/ 


Additional Athlete Stories of Interest 

 Chevron Houston Marathon  

  • Thomas Rivers Puzey – The outlier story of the 2019 Chevron Houston Marathon, Puzey returns to Houston with unfinished business. After pacing through the 30K of 2019’s race on track to run 2:14, the wheels came off for Puzey. He managed to stumble across the finish line with an official finish time of 2:20:19 and a trip to the medic. He will undoubtably again push himself to his limits.
  • Biruktayit Degefa has an opportunity to make history in her seventh consecutive appearance – if she wins, she will be the first athlete in Houston Marathon history, male or female, to win the race four times. In 2019, she became just the third female in race history to win three times. Degefa started running marathons at age 19, and she is one of the most prolific elite runners competing today. Over the last decade, she has run an incredible 31 marathons (she ran six alone in 2014), landing on the podium 20 times and winning eight times. She returns this year as a favorite for the title, especially on the heels of her PR in Toronto, 2:22:40, to close out 2019. 
  • Alexi Pappas, a 2016 Olympian for Greece in the 10,000m (she holds dual Greek-American citizenship), arrives in Houston with a 2:43:38 marathon personal best, but the talent to completely obliterate that time and run closer to the 2:29:30 Olympic standard that she needs to make it to Tokyo. Pappas experienced an extraordinary Olympic debut performance in Rio. She set the Greek national 10,000m record and a new PR to finish 17th in 31:36.16.
  • Neely Spence Gracey runs her first marathon post-pregnancy after welcoming a baby boy in July of 2018. She has her sights set on qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Trials, after injury and illness kept her from competing in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Trials. Prior to pregnancy, Neely won the 2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon and then made her debut at the Boston Marathon. She finished in 2:35 – securing her spot as the top American, and ninth overall. After recovering from Boston, Neely won the Rock ‘n; Roll Chicago Half Marathon, and then closed out the year with an 8th place finish, (2nd American behind Molly Huddle), at the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon (2:34).  

Aramco Houston Half Marathon 

  • Shura Kitata will look to defend his 2019 title on the heels of his fifth-place finish at the New York City Marathon just a few short months ago. He will be facing several of the same challengers from the 2019 Aramco Houston Half Marathon, so if past precedent remains the same, we are sure to see a fast and competitive race from the gun.  
  • Jake Robertson, 2018 Aramco Houston Half Marathon Champion, returns to Houston after a troubled 2019 fighting injury and rebuilding. After winning in Houston, he went on to win a competitive Beach to Beacon 10K and finished out the year with a fifth-place finish at the Toronto Marathon in 2018 but hasn’t toed the start line in over a year. All eyes will be watching to see his return to the racing scene.  
  • Ruti Aga – Aga returns to familiar territory in Houston as the 2018 Women’s Champion of the Aramco Houston Half Marathon. Her finishing time of 1:06:39 from the race remains her personal best. Aga is certain to be in the lead pack vying for the win once again.  
  • Molly Huddle – The Women’s American Half Marathon Record Holder, Huddle returns to Houston and the course she set the current standard of 1:07:25 on to test her fitness going into the 2020 Olympic Trials in February. She currently lives and trains in Providence, Rhode Island with her husband Kurt Benninger and Coach Ray Treacy.   
  • Sara Hall – Hall enters the 2020 season with her eyes set on making a third U.S. Olympic team. On the heels of a massive marathon PR of 2:22:16 in Berlin last year, Houston will be a preview of her fitness level and her future in 2020.  

Athlete Development Program 

The 2020 Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon boasts the largest Athlete Development Program field in the history of the events. More than 450 runners have met the qualifying standard to be categorized in the field where many will make their last attempt at achieving the Olympic Trials Qualifying standard to compete in Atlanta in a mere six weeks 

 To request interviews with any of these athletes please contact Director of Marketing, Media & Brand – Muffy King at muffy@houstonmarathon.com 


About the Houston Marathon Committee, Inc. 

Established in 1972, the Houston Marathon Committee, Inc. (HMC) is a founding member of Running USA and annually organizes the nation’s premier winter marathon, half-marathon and 5K. Over 300,000 participants, volunteers and spectators make Chevron Houston Marathon Race Day the largest single-day sporting event in Houston. Recognized by World Athletics, the Gold Label Chevron Houston Marathon has been the race site for three U.S. Olympic Trials Marathons and the Gold Label Aramco Houston Half Marathon has held 16 U.S. Half Marathon Championships. For eight consecutive years, the events have garnered Gold Certification from the Council of Responsible Sport and were also awarded the 2015 AIMS Green Award for industry-leading sustainability initiatives. Race Weekend generates over $50 million in economic impact for the region annually. In addition to its economic impact, the HMC facilitates social responsibility through its Run for a Reason Charity Program which has raised over $31 million since its inception and the Houston Marathon Foundation, which serves the greater Houston area through support of youth and community organizations that promote access to and participation in running. The event is televised annually national and international syndication airing on ESPN3 and the Longhorn Network. 

For more information, visit www.chevronhoustonmarathon.com or call 713.957.3453