AP NEWS

Chevron Houston Marathon report Sisson takes aim at Huddle’s U.S. mark in half

January 19, 2019

Emily Sisson did a training run just a couple of weeks ago with Molly Huddle in Scottsdale, Ariz., where they both are based. But they never discussed Huddle’s American women’s half-marathon record, which she set a year ago in Houston’s Aramco Half and which Sisson has at least a realistic chance of breaking Sunday.

“I know she made a comment about it,” Sisson said. “I saw it on Twitter. She mentioned her American record and the race this weekend. I took that as a big confidence booster because she thinks I’m fit and ready to run fast.”

Sisson, 27, who is making her Houston debut, said “her main goal” going in is to break 68 minutes. Huddle ran 67:25 after admitting in a prerace interview that she came to town gunning for Deena Kastor’s 67:34, set in 2006. Because of Sisson’s respect for Kastor and Huddle, she said even “being in the ballpark (Sunday) would be amazing. They’re both incredible runners who have run really well in the marathon, and that’s what I’m going to be doing (for the first time) this spring in London.”

Huddle, 34, beat Sisson with a late closing kick in the 2017 New York Half Marathon, but the latter’s 68:21 was the fastest debut by an American woman. They will go head-to-head again over 26.2 miles in London.

The Aramco favorite — Fancy Chemmutai of Ethiopia — ran a personal-best 1:04:52 in February, only a second off Joyciline Jepkosgei’s world record. Chemmutai’s professed Houston goal is to break it, and the 23-year-old Ehtiopian’s pace, if Sisson can hang with her most of the way, enhances her chances of bettering Huddle’s time.

’See something,

say something’

Although George Buenik, Houston’s director of the Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security for Mayor Sylvester Turner, said “there are no credible threats” to the city this weekend, he asked that spectators be vigilant to suspicious activity, adding, “If you see something, say something.”

Houston’s emergency management system will be active during the race.

Larry Satterwhite, an assistant chief with the Houston Police Department, said there will be, as always, “hundreds of police officers along the route. But we can’t see everything and be everywhere, so we’re counting on (the public’s) help.” He also asked for patience with the street closures but said everything should be mostly back to normal by 2 p.m.

Chief Samuel Peña confirmed that the Houston Fire Department will have “roving medical patrols” on hand to assist ailing runners or spectators, some 250,000 of which are expected to line the route.

The George R. Brown Convention Center opens for runners at 5 a.m. Sunday. With 27,000 runners registered and all trying to get downtown at the same time, Wade Moreland, the race’s executive director, suggested using Metro rather than personal vehicles if possible.

Weather appears

to be cooperating

To non-marathoners, it may seem like Sunday’s forecast will be a little on the chilly side, but race executive director Wade Morehead said the conditions will be close to perfect for the runners. Others agreed.

“I’m so stoked it will be cold — that’s perfect,” said Thomas Rivers Puzey, who is making his Houston debut after winning the Toyota Rock ‘N’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon in November. He jokingly added that he had been preparing for Houston by alternating between “the sauna and the hot tub. I live in Flagstaff (Arizona), so the more rugged the better.”

The temperature at the start of the marathon at 7 a.m. is forecast to be 34 degrees and is expected to rise into the mid-50s by early afternoon. The wind is expected to in the 5-to-10-mph range, although it could be far more blustery Saturday for the 5K, which starts at 8 a.m.

Atnafu says he’s ‘ready to be first’

Ethiopian Yitayal Atnafu has been the Marathon runner-up in each of the last three races in Houston, but he is back for another shot and seemingly brimming with confidence.

“I am ready to be first,” Atnafu said through a translator. “I believe I will win.”

If he does, he will have two reasons to celebrate. He turns 26 Sunday.

Run for a Reason

success continues

The Marathon’s Run for a Reason program is celebrating its 25th anniversary, having brought in nearly $30 million through the years with some $20 million of that since 2010.

In a competition among the official participating charities, 64 in all, three category champions received $25,000 checks Friday — the Arbor School for being the organization that received the most contest votes, Living Water International for raising the most money by a single organization, and Bo’s Place for rounding up the most donations from individuals.

Also, representatives from CanCare and the Houston Area Parkinson’s Society, two of the race’s longest-tenured charities, will be the honorary starters Sunday morning.

Channel 13 to air

live coverage

KTRK-TV (Ch. 13) will telecast the Marathon live starting at 6 a.m., and the race will also be streamed on ABC13.com. News anchors Tom Koch and Gina Gaston will be joined in the booth by longtime Rice track coach Jon Warren.

Missing from the team this year, however, will be Kara Goucher. Thinking her career was over because of allergies and knee problems, the two-time Olympian was added to the broadcast the last two years, but, feeling healthy again at 40, she has returned to competition and will compete in g her first marathon Sunday since the 2016 Olympic Trials.

Dale Robertson