17 January 2022, 4pm
Chevron Houston Marathon, Aramco Houston Half Marathon and We Are Houston 5K
Sat 15 January 2022
Not to be outdone, the Aramco Houston Half Marathon made some history of its own, with women’s winner Vicoty Chepngeno winning in a course-record time of 1:05:03 – the fastest women’s half marathon ever run on U.S. soil – and Sara Hall setting an American record of 1:07:15. Hall’s record came 15 years after her husband, Ryan, set his still-standing American record (59:43) at this same race.
Another national record was set when Alberto Gonzalez Mindez of Guatemala finished 11th in 1:01:18.
Ethiopia’s Askale Merachi returned to defend her title and countrywoman Biruktayit Degefa toed the line in search of a record fourth victory here, but all eyes were on Keira D’Amato as she set out on a pace to break Deena Kastor’s American record of 2:19:36. Merachi fell back early, while Degefa hung on a bit longer, but from just before halfway it was all D’Amato, a 37-year-old real estate agent and mother of two. D’Amato went through the half in 1:09:40 on her way to slicing 24 seconds off the mark set by Kastor in 2006.
“I just can’t believe this,” said D’Amato, after being greeted at the finish line by her son Tommy, 7, and daughter Quinn, 5. “I’m really tired, but I’m really, really happy. Dreams come true, you know?” D’Amato also became the first U.S woman to win here since 2005.
Finishing second and third – and given the same time of 2:29:08 – were Alice Wright of Great Britain and Maggie Montoya of the U.S. Both were making their debuts at the distance.
On the men’s side, 31-year-old James Ngandu of Kenya outsprinted Abdi Abdo of Bahrain for victory in his first-ever marathon, in 2:11:03.
“Oh yes, I’m surprised,” said Ngandu of winning his debut. “The support I had from the fans was overwhelming.”
Abdo finished in 2:11:11, with Kenya’s Elisha Barno third in 2:11:16. The top American was Frank Lara, sixth in 2:11:32. Raised in Houston, Lara returned home to make his marathon debut.
“It was awesome,” said the 26-year-old Lara. “Running the course was so special today.”
Leading all the way in the half marathon, 28-year-old Vicoty Chepngeno of Kenya never let up, breaking the tape in 1:05:03 to smash the previous course record (Brigid Kosgei, 2019) by 47 seconds. It is also the fastest time ever run on U.S. soil, and makes her the 11th-fastest woman in history.
“I wanted to run my best time,” she said of her strategy to take the race out from the start. However, she added, she was surprised to run so much faster than 1:07:22, her previous best mark.
Meanwhile, runner-up Sara Hall broke away from the chase pack after 15K in pursuit of Molly Huddle’s American record of 1:07:25, set in this race in 2018.
“It’s incredible,” she said of not only breaking the record by 10 seconds but doing so on the same course where her husband set the mark early in his career. “It’s something I’ve dreamed of doing. Our lives were never the same after that day, so it’s always a special memory here in Houston.”
Chepngeno and Hall weren’t the only two women who ran fast: six of the eight fastest times in the history of the race were run today.
For the men, 21-year-old Milkesa Mengesha, who finished 10th for Ethiopia at 5000 meters in the Tokyo Olympics, won the half marathon in 1:00:24, outsprinting John Korir of Kenya (1:00:27). Third was Wilfred Kimitei of Kenya (1:00:42), with Kirubel Erassa fourth as the top American given the same time in his debut.