2023 is off to a hot start! While collegians around the country are coming back from winter break and pros like Abby Steiner are opening up their indoor campaigns, all eyes in the distance world were on the Chevron Houston Marathon this weekend. Houston traditionally features deep, high-caliber half marathon fields and hosted Keira D’Amato’s American record in the full distance in 2022.
There was even more attention on the shorter event this year as the abbreviated qualifying window for the 2024 Olympic Marathon Trials only allows half marathon times from January to December 2023 to count for qualifying purposes, so Houston represented the first major event where runners could book their tickets to Tampa with a half marathon performance.
In case you missed the action yesterday morning, here’s what you need to know about what happened in Houston:
Emily Sisson broke her own U.S. record in the half marathon:
– The time now clears up any confusion over the fastest-ever U.S. women’s half marathon performance. Sisson is the first American woman to run under 67 minutes in a record-eligible course. Kara Goucher clocked a 66:57 at the 2007 Great North Run but the course is considered a slightly-aided course.
– What she said after the race: “I think I could have run a little more evenly so I’m hoping to run another half and run even faster.” She did get out a bit quick – her first 5km of 15:31 put her close to 65-minute pace early – but the eventual winner, Hiwot Gebremaryam, went out even faster.
Ethiopia’s Hiwot Gebremaryam won the race in 66:28:
– In November, she finished 3rd at the BAA Half Marathon in 71:06 – nearly 5 full minutes slower than her performance yesterday. That should help contextualize just how tough the course in Boston is for those who’ve never run it.
– Gebremaryam entered the race with a 66:47 personal best. Given that her full marathon best is 2:19:10 and the longer distances appear to be more to her taste, it suggests that Sisson, with a 2:18:29 personal best, could run much faster in the half.