Race Weekend to feature 13 2016 Olympians

HOUSTON (January 4, 2017) – The 45th edition of the Chevron Houston Marathon Race Weekend features stacked fields in both the Chevron Houston Marathon and the Aramco Houston Half Marathon. The 2016 Olympic marathon silver and bronze medalists, Feyisa Lilesa and Galen Rupp, respectively, and the women’s Olympic marathon bronze medalist Mare Dibaba, lead the fields in the Aramco Houston Half Marathon with a total of 13 Rio Olympians entered in the two races. Race-day for the 2017 Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon is Sunday, January 15.

“Superlatives are often risky, but we believe this is the most talented field our Invited Athlete Committee has ever assembled,” said Chevron Houston Marathon Race Director and Board President Brant Kotch. “Three of our four defending champions are returning, but a superior performance will be necessary for any of them to repeat – in the men’s marathon and the women’s half marathon, the second-place finishers will be back to fight for the top step on the podium. In the one race without a defending champion, the men’s half marathon, not only do we have our current race record-holder, a two-time champion and the 2016 Olympic marathon silver medalist, but we also have the American bronze medalist from those Games. These are loaded fields and we can’t wait to see how the races play out.”

Aramco Houston Half Marathon race record holder (59:22) and 2016 Olympic men’s marathon silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia leads the field in the men’s half marathon. In his first race since winning the bronze medal in the Rio Olympic marathon, two-time Olympic medalist Galen Rupp will look to challenge Lilesa. Two-time Chevron Houston Marathon championBazu Worku will drop down in distance to race in the men’s half marathon. Yigrem Demelash of Ethiopia, the fourth-place finisher in Rio over 10,000m who owns a half marathon personal best of 59:48; 2016 Aramco Houston Half Marathon third-place finisher Samsom Gebreyohannes of Eritrea; and 2016 U.S. 10,000m Olympian Leonard Korir, who won the 2016 NYC Half Marathon, are all also entered.

Kenyan Mary Wacera, the 2016 Aramco Houston Half Marathon champion, is the top contender in the women’s half marathon. A two-time World Half Marathon Championships medalist, Wacera ran the fastest-ever women’s half marathon on American soil in winning the 2016 race, moving to then-number nine on the all-time world list as she shattered the race record with a 66:29. Out to challenge her will be 2011 Chevron Houston Marathon champion Mamitu Daska of Ethiopia, who owns a personal best 66:27, and 2015 World Marathon Champion Mare Dibaba, who finished third in the 2016 Aramco Houston Half Marathon and went on to claim the bronze medal in the women’s marathon at the 2016 Olympic Games. Sara Hall is the top American in the field and compatriot Jordan Hasay will be making her half marathon debut.

Ethiopian Biruktayit Degefa, the 2016 Chevron Houston Marathon champion, will return to defend her title in the women’s marathon. She will be challenged by compatriots Meskerem Assefa, who has twice finished in the top three in Houston and Sechale Dalasa, who has twice finished in the top four in Houston. Former Rice University standout Becky Wade and Houston resident Mary Davies of New Zealand are also entered.

Two-time Chevron Houston Marathon defending champion (2015 and 2016) Birhanu Gedefa of Ethiopia returns to the field in 2017 to defend his titles, while the runner-up at the 2016 Chevron Houston Marathon, Yitayal Atanfu, is also entered. Also in contention will be 2016 World Half Marathon fourth-place finisher Abayneh Ayele of Ethiopia, who finished sixth at the 2016 Chicago Marathon and set a personal best 2:06:45 with his sixth place finish at the 2016 Dubai Marathon.

2017 Elite Fields in seed order:
Men’s Half Marathon
Feyisa Lilesa Gemechu
Galen Rupp
Yigrem Demelash Endale
Samsom Gebreyohannes Gezahai
Leonard Korir
Hiskel Tewelde Ghebru
Daniel Salel Loyioyio
Silas Kipruto
Fikadu Tsadik
Temesgen Ejeressa
Weldon Kirui
Ben Chelimo S