Defending Chevron Houston Marathon champion and course record holder Teshome Gelana will return to Houston to defend his 2010 title on Sunday 30 January.
Last year, Gelana's time of 2:07:37 shaved 15 seconds off the previous course record set in 2009 by fellow Ethiopian Deriba Merga. A sold-out marathon field of 11,000 is expected on Sunday (30) for the 39th edition.
"In recent years, our marathon has become known for introducing exciting new talent at both national and international levels. We've had six course records in the last four years," said Brant Kotch, president and race director of the Houston Marathon Committee. "Although many factors play a role in an extraordinary performance, we have every reason to expect some outstanding results on Sunday, given the very solid field that our elite athlete committee has assembled."
Gelana, 25, whose 2010 Houston Marathon performance also set a Texas state All-Comers record, is the No. 1 seed, followed by Felix Keny of Kenya, who placed second at the 2010 Barcelona Marathon clocking a personal record of 2:07:36.
American Brett Gotcher, who recorded the fourth-fastest debut Marathon ever by an American last year in Houston, returns to the Bayou City as the No. 3 seed for his second marathon since placing seventh last year in 2:10:36. The Stanford grad's Marathon debut is the fastest American performance ever at the Houston Marathon. Also from Flagstaff, Ariz., No. 4 seed 2008 Irish Olympian Martin Fagan, who sports a 1:00:57 Half-Marathon PB, will make his Houston Marathon debut in 2011, while Ethiopian Hussan Adelo, fourth at Houston last year in a 2:09:09 PB, rounds out the top men's Marathon runners as the No. 5 seed.
?In the women's marathon, Ashu Kasim of Ethiopia holds the No. 1 seed after winning the Istanbul-Eurasia Marathon in Turkey last October, setting a course record of 2:27:27.
Joining the top-seeded Kasim on the starting line will be Kenyan Georgina Rono (No. 2), second at the 2010 Marrakech Marathon, and Ethiopian Belainesh Gebre (No. 3), who won the 2010 Honolulu Marathon in her debut (2:32:13), will be running her first race in Houston this year. Ethiopian Mamitu Daska (No. 16), a late entry into the marathon and winner of the 2010 Dubai Marathon with a personal best of 2:24:18, also joins the competition.
No. 4 seed American Stephanie Rothstein, who ran a personal best of 1:13:37 at the 2010 World Half Marathon Championships, will return to Houston after competing at the 2008 USA Half Marathon Championships in 1:13:19. Rounding out the top women runners is No. 5 seed Tigist Tufa of Ethiopia, who has Half-Marathon PB of 1:10:03 and will make her marathon debut in Houston.
Three-time Houston champion David Cheruiyot, 40, is expected to challenge the masters course record of 2:16:45 set in 1998 by Russian Andrey Kuznetsov.
The 2011 prize purse exceeds $139,000 with $35,000 for each race champion.
More than 26,000 runners will participate in the sold-out Chevron Houston Marathon and companion Aramco Houston Half Marathon and El Paso Corporation 5K. The competition begins Sunday at 6:45 a.m. with the wheelchair start for the marathon and half marathon.
Organisers for the IAAF