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Race news Marine Corps Marathon

Marine Corps Marathon bans persistent cheat

The Marine Corps Marathon recently concluded an investigation indicating that a 55-year-old female participant at both the Marine Corps 17.75km and the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) had cheated over several years by not running the entire course and then claiming the rewards of a finisher.

The investigation was launched when the runner applied for membership of the MCM Runners Club – a group who have officially completed five MCMs. This runner has now been permanently banned from participating in any event organised by MCM.

“Marines pride themselves on their Corps Values of honor, courage and commitment. The Marine Corps Marathon Organization shares these values,” said race director Rick Nealis, “and holds our participants to those same standards.”

This case was a repeated pattern of cheating over four years. In one incident the runner only crossed the start and finish timing mats and posted no on-course data but claimed an age category win during the 2018 17.75km race. During the 44th MCM, the runner only crossed the finish line mat and photographic evidence was not consistent with a runner who completed the marathon.

“Cheaters have no place in our sport,” said Nealis. “Integrity and personal accomplishment will be rewarded even if it takes us years to bestow the award to the true winner.”

Race news Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon & 5k

Records fall in Houston

An estimated 200,000 spectators greeted runners from all 50 US states and 57 countries with cheers and Texas hospitality.

The Chevron Houston Marathon welcomed defending champion Biruktayit Degefa (ETH) back to the start to vie for her fourth victory (a historic feat in Houston’s race history), but it was clear from the start that compatriot Askale Merachi (ETH) had other ideas.

Merachi separated from the lead pack before 10K, and she maintained course record pace until the later stages of the race. In spite of running unchallenged to the finish line, she held on to crush her personal best and run the fourth fastest time in Chevron Houston Marathon history, 2:23:29. History eluded Degefa as she finished second in 2:24:57, and Canadian Malindi Elmore, who recently came out of retirement from professional running, finished third in a Canadian national record, 2:24:50.

The men’s race started on pace to break the course record, but slowed over the final four miles. By mile 15, the pack shrank to just five runners, and by mile 17, it turned into a duel between Kelkile Gezahegn (ETH) and Bonsa Dida (ETH). Kelkile and Bonsa slowed dramatically between miles 22 and 24, and then Kelkile hit the gas pedal, leaving Bonsa behind, racing to the finish to win in 2:08:36. Bonsa finished second in 2:10:37, and Amanuel Mesel (ERI) finished third in 2:11:04.

One of the most exciting finishes of the day belonged to Michael Roeger (AUS). Roeger, a T46 Paralympian, obliterated his own world record (2:22:51) to, as he said in the pre-race press conference, “put his competitors on notice” heading into the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. Roeger finished 26th overall in 2:19:33.

Americans Adriana Nelson and Craig Hunt led a deep field of U.S. athletes as they both collected eighth place finishes. Nelson clocked 2:33:18, and Hunt ran 2:17:18. Twelve American men and 18 American women met the qualifying standard to compete in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta next month.

In the Aramco Houston Half Marathon, Hitomi Niiya (JPN) entertained fans with a solo performance to the finish. She took command of the race immediately, and, running alongside pacer, Tsuyoshi Ugachi (JPN), she smashed both her personal best and the Japanese national record to win in the third fastest time in Aramco Houston Half Marathon history, 1:06:38. Brillian Kipkoech (KEN) finished a distant second in 1:08:08, and Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui (KEN) rounded out the top three in 1:08:13.

While the women’s race lacked drama, the men’s race more than made up for it. A pack of 14 men rolled through the first 5K on pace to break the course record (59:22), and the pack remained strong at five over the final mile of the race. Last year’s runner-up, Jemal Yimer (ETH), dug the deepest to win in 59:25, producing the second fastest time ever run in Houston and North America. Bernard Ngeno (KEN) was a step behind in 59:26, and Shardrack Korir (KEN) set a personal best to finish third in 59:27.

Matt and Andrew Leach of Great Britain broke the Guinness world record for the fastest father-son duo in the half marathon. Collectively, they ran 2:14:05. The previous record stood at 2:20:33. Matt ran 1:02:55, and Andrew ran 1:11:10.

Canadian Callum Neff competed as the Last Runner Starting to raise funds for the Houston Marathon Foundation. He started behind the entire half marathon and marathon open field, and somehow managed to finish with a net time of 1:09:59. Neff holds the Guinness record for the fastest marathon run while pushing a jogging stroller, 2:31:21.

Steve Schmidt (USA) and Antonio Arreola (USA) joined an exclusive club to become the first two runners to run a sub-three hour marathon for the sixth decade. Schmidt finished in 2:58:07 and Arreola finished a few strides behind in 2:58:18. Schmidt ran his first sub-three hour marathon in 1979, and Arreola ran his first in 1976. Arreola holds the record for the longest time span between his first sub-three hour marathon and his last.

AIMS news

AIMS races among most popular in runner survey


Seven out of ten of the most popular marathons across Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxemburg are AIMS members.

That’s the result of a poll carried out by running website, in which 14,000 runners voted.

In order of ranking, the Mainova Frankfurt Marathon, BMW Berlin-Marathon, Jungfrau-Marathon, HAJ Hannover Marathon, Haspa Marathon Hamburg, SwissCityMarathon – Lucerne and Volksbank-Münster-Marathon took seven of the top ten places.

The overall winner was the Rennsteiglauf in Thuringia, Germany, which makes a point of feeding its runners goulash and potato dumplings instead of the more common pasta party. The Luxemburg Night Marathon and the Allgäu Panorama Marathon achieved eighth and tenth place respectively.

The Volksbank-Münster-Marathon (pictured) was voted sixth best race in Germany and top in its region North Rhine Westphalia, beating the Generali Cologne Marathon into second place in the region.

Date changes Sea of Galilee Tiberias Marathon

Race date for Sea of Galilee Tiberias Marathon (ISR) changed

The Sea of Galilee Tiberias Marathon (ISR) will take place on Fri 1 January 2021, not Fri 8 January 2021 as previously published.

Race news Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon & 5k

Champions return to Houston


The Houston Marathon Committee (HMC) has announced the elite field for the forty-eighth running of the Chevron Houston Marathon and the eighteenth Aramco Houston Half Marathon events taking place on January 19.

The Chevron Houston Marathon welcomes back defending 2019 women’s champion Biruktayit Degefa, where she will try to become the only woman to break the tape in Houston four times. The Aramco Houston Half Marathon returns three former champions; 2018 female champion Ruti Aga, and past male winners; Shura Kitata (defending 2019 champion) and Jake Robertson (2018).

Biruktayit Degefa has an opportunity to make history in her seventh consecutive appearance – if she wins, she will be the first athlete in Houston Marathon history, male or female, to win the race four times. In 2019, she became just the third woman in race history to win three times. Degefa started running marathons at age 19, and she is one of the most prolific elite runners competing today. Over the last decade, she has run an incredible 31 marathons (she ran six alone in 2014), landing on the podium 20 times and winning eight times. She returns this year as a favorite for the title, especially on the heels of her PR in Toronto, 2:22:40, to close out 2019.

The outlier story of the 2019 Chevron Houston Marathon, Thomas Rivers Puzey returns to Houston with unfinished business. After pacing through the 30K of 2019’s race on track to run 2:14, the wheels came off for Puzey. He managed to stumble across the finish line with an official finish time of 2:20:19 and a trip to the medic. He will undoubtably again push himself to his limits.

Alexi Pappas, a 2016 Olympian for Greece in the 10,000m, arrives in Houston with a 2:43:38 marathon personal best, but possesses the talent to completely obliterate that time and run closer to the 2:29:30 Olympic standard that she needs to make it to Tokyo for another Olympic appearance. Pappas experienced an extraordinary Olympic debut performance in Rio. She set the Greek national 10,000m record and a new PR to finish 17th in 31:36.16.

In the Aramco Houston Half Marathon, Shura Kitata will look to defend his 2019 title on the heels of his fifth-place finish at the New York City Marathon just a few short months ago. He will be facing several of the same challengers from the 2019 Aramco Houston Half Marathon, so if past precedent remains the same, we are sure to see a fast and competitive race from the gun.

Jake Robertson, 2018 Aramco Houston Half Marathon Champion, returns to Houston after a troubled 2019 fighting injury and rebuilding. After winning in Houston, he went on to win a competitive Beach to Beacon 10K and finished out the year with a fifth-place finish at the Toronto Marathon in 2018 but hasn’t toed the start line in over a year. All eyes will be watching to see his return to the racing scene.

Ruti Aga returns to familiar territory in Houston as the 2018 Women’s Champion of the Aramco Houston Half Marathon. Her finishing time of 1:06:39 from the race remains her personal best. Aga is certain to be in the lead pack vying for the win once again.

The American record holder in the women’s half marathon, Molly Huddle returns to Houston and the course she set the current standard of 1:07:25 on to test her fitness going into the 2020 Olympic Trials in February.

Race news Logicom Cyprus Marathon

Cyprus Marathon’s popularity with overseas runners grows


From its beginning, the Logicom Cyprus Marathon has always attracted many runners from abroad, who constantly choose to travel to Cyprus in March in order to compete in the beautiful coastal city of Pafos.

It is the most historical marathon in Cyprus and has been held every year since 1999.

Each year the attendance of overseas runners has grown. Some five years ago only around 700 athletes competed. In 2020 over 4,000 competitors will participate in the four races.

Especially, British runners favour the mild spring Cyprus climate, both for their training programmes and to kickstart their race season. The marathon attracts more runners from Britain than from any other country – both as individuals and as groups from their running clubs.

This year more than 1000 British runners are expected to line up at the start of the races on Sunday 15th March.

The other countries with high attendances are Israel, Russia, Hungary, Poland and Germany.

Notably, in recent years, overseas runners have dominated the longer distance races. Last year 42-year-old British runner Adam Holland won the marathon for the second consecutive year in a time of 2:35:03 and British woman Abi Gooch won top spot on the podium in the 2019 women’s marathon race in a time of 3:23:06.

The Logicom Cyprus Marathon is complemented by a half marathon, a 10km road race, a 5km family fun run and a ‘wine run’ which gives the opportunity to all kinds of runners and sports enthusiasts to run their favourite distance. Online registrations for the 22nd Logicom Cyprus Marathon will remain open till 31st January 2020.

Lives remembered Melbourne Marathon Festival

Ted Paulin 1939–2020


Melbourne Marathon’s first race director and former Vice-President of AIMS Ted Paulin has passed away, aged 81.

The following edited tribute is taken from The History of the Melbourne Marathon (2012) by Chris Muirden.

Despite not officially being named race director for the first six years of his 16-year stint in the role Paulin carried the weight of the race on his shoulders. A succession of technical directors were responsible for course logistics but Paulin was the face of the event, looking after sponsors, elite runners, prizes and the media in his role as sponsorship, publicity and promotion director.

Paulin had played football in his early twenties before taking up running at age 26. He won a series of distance races, including the Victorian Professional Marathon title seven times. He eventually became president of the Victorian Cross Country League where he met Brian Dixon and that association led to him being contacted by Dixon in 1978 when the Melbourne Marathon idea was founded.

“At the time I worked for The [Melbourne] Age in advertising. I was called in by the Minister (Brian Dixon),” Paulin said when interviewed in 2012. “We set up an office at Olympic Park. The first year was chaotic. There was no signage except for the race banner and barely enough toilets and the train service was more than half an hour late. We got better. You had to. You always had complaints. You try and explain that if 6000 people want to urinate at the same time, then you are going to have a problem.’’

Paulin was 40 in 1978, but still a handy runner. He even made it to start line and ended up finishing eighth in 2:33.37. His passion for the race, which included a leading role in bringing out Bill Rodgers in 1982 and Juma Ikangaa in 1983, was eventually rewarded by Dixon in 1984 when he was given the title of executive director.

While Paulin fought many battles over the years, one of his biggest was trying to get the committee to increase the entry fee, which was $5 for the first three years and still just $17 in 1987. “The entry fee wasn’t enough and I couldn’t talk the committee around to raise it,’’ he said. “For example, I saw the (timing) chips in Berlin way back when they came out but we couldn’t afford them. We used hand-written cards for timing in those days. It was very old-fashioned stuff.’’

Paulin tried numerous things to stimulate the race after the initial boom. He expanded the events under the race umbrella to include a women’s 10km fun run and a half-marathon series and, once age limits were imposed, encouraged a shorter Marafun race for children. He came up with the idea of rewarding 10-year runners with membership to their own elite “Spartans” club which enjoyed great success with more than 1000 members.

He was responsible for Melbourne Marathon joining AIMS in the early years and was elected to the Board of Directors at the 3rd World Congress in 1985 and as Vice-President at the 7th World Congress in 1991. He made regular trips to overseas marathons and meetings which helped him with ideas and kept him in the loop with international athletes.

Dixon was voted out as race chairman just before the 1993 race and Paulin was ousted early in 1994. “He (Dixon) still believes that I’d knifed him, but I hadn’t,’’ Paulin said. “The two key figures were Derek Clayton and (finance director) Doug Bourne. I was at the 1996 AIMS Congress in Barcelona and when I came back I was put out on the spot by Clayton and Bourne. They just came to my office in Olympic Park and wanted me to go straight away because they thought I’d take everything with me. I never had a contract. It was always word of mouth with me. I think there was jealousy about my involvement with AIMS. As soon as I was gone, they pulled out of it.’’

Paulin kept running well into his seventies and ran a gardening business from his home called Tidy Ted’s.

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