Monday, January 16, 2012

Ethiopians dominate 2012 Houston marathon, half marathon

Tariku Jufar  Houston Marathon 2012
HOUSTON (Xinhua) -- Ethiopian runners swept the Houston marathon and half marathon on Sunday, toppling the men's and women's course records in both races.

The record breaking began in the half marathon, in which Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa, the reigning IAAF World Championships Marathon bronze medallist, clocked 59:22 to smash American Ryan Hall's course record of 59:43 set in 2007.

In women's half-marathon, Lilesa's countrywoman Belaynesh Oljira took the title in 1:08:26, 1:15 under the previous course record of 1:09:41 set by Shalane Flanagan in 2010.

In the marathon, Ethiopia's Tariku Jufar broke away from his compatriot Debebe Tolossa in the 38th kilometer and ran alone to finish in 2:06:51, eclipsing the previous best time of 2:07:04 set by Ethiopian Bekana Daba last year.

Jufar, who was struck by a car while training in Addis Ababa in 2009 and suffered broken bones, shaved almost two minutes off his previous personal best.

"I am really very glad to run on this course in this race," said Jufar in a press conference. "I am very much encouraged by the people on the side cheering us. I was also comfortable with the weather, as well." The 27-year-old said he was very thankful that he was able to fully recover from the injuries.

Jufar's countrywoman Alemitu Abera ran away with a victory in the women's race in 2:23:14, more than five minutes ahead of second-placed Australian Benita Willis. Abera broke Teyba Erkesso's 2010 course record by 39 seconds.

The 5k race was also run on Sunday, with men's title going to American Ryan Mcniff and women's title to Mcniff's countrywoman Megan Jenkins.

The races were held one day after the city of Houston hosted the U.S. marathon trials. Meb keflezighin won the men's race and Flanagan won the women's. The top three runners secured spots on the U.S. Olympic team for London.

The Houston marathon, sponsored by Chevron, was in its 40th year.

An estimated 28,000 runners, from all 50 U.S. states and 22 foreign countries, participated in Sunday's races.
Men's results:
1. Tariku Jufar (Ethiopia) 02:06:51
2. Debebe Tolossa (Ethiopia) 02:07:41
3. Demssew Tsega (Ethiopia) 02:11:13

Women's results:
1. Alemitu Abera (Ethiopia) 02:23:14
2. Benita Willis (Australia) 02:28:24
3. Yihunlish Delelecha (Ethiopia) 02:31:19

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