American marathon and half marathon brands fall on Keira D’Amato and Sara Hall as British runners Jess Judd, Alice Wright and Luke Caldwell also shine
Houston has the nickname “Space City” and the city lived up to its reputation on Sunday (January 16) when its marathon and half-marathon saw stratospheric performances.
Keira D’Amato set an American record of 2:19:12 at the Chevron Houston Marathon, while Sara Hall set an American record of 67:15 at the Aramco Houston Half-Marathon nearly 15 years to the day after her husband , Ryan, set an American Men’s Half Marathon record in the same city.
It was also a great day for the British runners, with Jess Judd ranking No. 4 in the UK’s all-time standings for the half marathon with 67:52 on his debut over the distance. In the marathon, Alice Wright and Luke Caldwell completed their first-ever marathon in impressive times of 2:29:08 and 2:11:33 respectively.
D’Amato broke Deena Kastor’s American record of 2:19:36 set during the London Marathon in 2006. The 37-year-old’s progression is far from standard either. She didn’t run from 2009 to 2016 and then came back as a fun runner at the start, although her performance has improved to the extent that she clocked a time of 2:22:56 in the Marathon event. Project in Arizona in 2020.
On Sunday, D’Amato came face to face with three-time Houston Marathon winner Biruktayit Eshetu Degefa of Ethiopia, but halfway through (69:40) D’Amato had broken away and, aided by pacemaker Calum Neff, maintained his pace. in the second half.
Wright finished second with Maggie Montoya of the United States with the same time of 2:29:08 in third, while Emily Kearney of Wirral AC ran 2:34:28 in her marathon debut.
Hailing from Worcestershire, Wright was a successful teenage racer in the UK, but overshadowed by Judd in many national events. However, in recent years, she has been based in the United States as part of a Hoka-sponsored team and made a few failed attempts on her marathon debut before finally succeeding in Houston.
Regarding the winner, D’Amato said: “I’ve had a very unique racing career and my racing has evolved throughout my life. I experimented with running in high school and college, tried running a bit after college and got injured. Then I quit running for a while and became a hobby runner, a recreational runner, and somehow I got that second opportunity.
“It was wild. I can’t believe I’m sitting here as an American marathon record holder.”
D’Amato added: “With the pacers, we went out at an American record pace and I really believed in my heart and in my legs, in my soul and in my brain, that I was capable of breaking the record. American. It never really felt this good, but I just tried to hold on.
This is how Keira D’Amato set an American marathon record of 2:19:12 at the Houston Marathon 🇺🇸
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) January 16, 2022
This was the 50th running of the Houston Marathon and during this period the Brits made their mark with Véronique Marot winning the women’s title three times, while Charlie Spedding and Colin Moore won the men’s race in the 1980s and 1990.
Ethiopia have, however, hugely dominated the event in recent years, with the last 14 women winners before 2022 hailing from there, while the Ethiopians have also won 11 of the last 14 men’s titles.
But on Sunday, Kenya’s James Ngandu won the men’s race in 2:11:03 on his marathon debut after making his break with just over a mile to go to beat Bahrain’s Abdi Abdo by seven seconds.
In seventh, Caldwell was just outside the World Championship qualifying standard of 2:11:30 but made a great first attempt at the distance.
The half marathon was also filled with eye-catching performances with the female winner, Vicoty Chepngeno of Kenya, setting a North American all-comers record as she moved up to 11th all-time in the world with 65:03.
Hall, 38, finished second and in doing so took 10 seconds off American record Molly Huddle, which was also set in Houston in 2018. With her husband Ryan Hall, who also holds an American men’s record of 59: 43 in Houston in 2007, it is clear that the course and the conditions are ideal for fast lap times.
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) January 16, 2022
“I thought it would be really special to do it today, it’s been 15 years since Ryan set the record here,” Hall said. “That day changed our lives forever. It launched his career and our lives were never the same after that day. Fifteen years later, to be able to do that, it also shows the history of our careers.
“For him, he just knocked it out of the park from the start, and then for me, it took 15 years of hard work and perseverance to get to this point.”
Dominique Scott of South Africa ran a PB of 67:32 with American Fiona O’Keeffe fourth in 67:42. Then came Judd who, like Wright, is also sponsored by Hoka, with a performance that means the only Britons who have run the 13.1 miles faster are Paula Radcliffe, Liz and Eilish McColgan.
The men’s half marathon was won by Ethiopian Milkesa Mengesha in 60:24. The 2019 junior cross country world champion is just 21 and he pulled away from Kenya’s John Korir in the closing stages.
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