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Rio Olympic Medalists Lilesa, Rupp and Dibaba Lead Stacked Fields at 2017 Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon

HOUSTON (January 4, 2017) - The 45th edition of the Chevron Houston Marathon Race Weekend features stacked fields in both the Chevron Houston Marathon and the Aramco Houston Half Marathon. The 2016 Olympic marathon silver and bronze medalists, Feyisa Lilesa and Galen Rupp, respectively, and the women's Olympic marathon bronze medalist Mare Dibaba, lead the fields in the Aramco Houston Half Marathon with a total of 13 Rio Olympians entered in the two races. Race-day for the 2017 Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon is Sunday, January 15.

"Superlatives are often risky, but we believe this is the most talented field our Elite Athlete Committee has ever assembled," said Chevron Houston Marathon Race Director and Board President Brant Kotch. "Three of our four defending champions are returning, but a superior performance will be necessary for any of them to repeat. In the one race without a defending champion, the men's half marathon, not only do we have our current race record-holder, a two-time champion and the 2016 Olympic marathon silver medalist, but we also have the American bronze medalist from those Games. These are loaded fields and we can't wait to see how the races play out."

Aramco Houston Half Marathon race record holder (59:22) and 2016 Olympic men's marathon silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia leads the field in the men's half marathon. In his first race since winning the bronze medal in the Rio Olympic marathon, two-time Olympic medalist Galen Rupp will look to challenge Lilesa. Two-time Chevron Houston Marathon champion Bazu Worku will drop down in distance to race in the men's half marathon. Yigrem Demelash of Ethiopia, the fourth-place finisher in Rio over 10,000m who owns a half marathon personal best of 59:48; 2016 Aramco Houston Half Marathon third-place finisher Samsom Gebreyohannes of Eritrea; and 2016 U.S. 10,000m Olympian Leonard Korir, who won the 2016 NYC Half Marathon, are all also entered.

Kenyan Mary Wacera, the 2016 Aramco Houston Half Marathon champion, is the top contender in the women's half marathon. A two-time World Half Marathon Championships medalist, Wacera ran the fastest-ever women's half marathon on American soil in winning the 2016 race, moving to then-number nine on the all-time world list as she shattered the race record with a 66:29. Out to challenge her will be 2011 Chevron Houston Marathon champion Mamitu Daska of Ethiopia, who owns a personal best 66:27, and 2015 World Marathon Champion Mare Dibaba, who finished third in the 2016 Aramco Houston Half Marathon and went on to claim the bronze medal in the women's marathon at the 2016 Olympic Games. Sara Hall is the top American in the field and compatriot Jordan Hasay will be making her half marathon debut.

Ethiopian Biruktayit Degefa, the 2016 Chevron Houston Marathon champion, will return to defend her title in the women's marathon. She will be challenged by compatriots Meskerem Assefa, who has twice finished in the top three in Houston and Sechale Dalasa, who has twice finished in the top four in Houston. Former Rice University standout Becky Wade and Houston resident Mary Davies of New Zealand are also entered.

Two-time Chevron Houston Marathon defending champion (2015 and 2016) Birhanu Gedefa of Ethiopia returns to the field in 2017 to defend his titles, while the runner-up at the 2016 Chevron Houston Marathon, Yitayal Atanfu, is also entered. Also in contention will be 2016 World Half Marathon fourth-place finisher Abayneh Ayele of Ethiopia, who finished sixth at the 2016 Chicago Marathon and set a personal best 2:06:45 with his sixth place finish at the 2016 Dubai Marathon.

2017 Elite Fields in seed order:

Men's Half Marathon
Feyisa Lilesa Gemechu
Galen Rupp
Yigrem Demelash Endale
Samsom Gebreyohannes Gezahai
Leonard Korir
Hiskel Tewelde Ghebru
Daniel Salel Loyioyio
Silas Kipruto
Fikadu Tsadik
Temesgen Ejeressa
Weldon Kirui
Ben Chelimo Somikwo
Luke Puskedra
Aaron Braun
Bazu Worku Hayla
Tadese Tola Woldegeberel
Girma Mercheso
Jordan Chipangama
Ben Bruce
Scott Smith
Bayron Piedra
Ismail Ssenyange
Sean Quigley
George Alex
Scott Fauble
John Crain
Aaron Dinzeo
Robert Molke
Ryan Rutherford
Phillip Reid
Eric Ashe
Tyler Andrews
Tom Anderson
Andrew Epperson
Parker Stinson
Noah Droddy
Luis Orta
Kiya Dandena
Patrick Rizzo
Ryan Dohner
Jonathan Peterson
Thomas Toth
Jovanny Godinez Rodriguez
Eric Loeffler
Luis Vargas
Pardon Ndhlovu
Matthew Sonnenfeldt
Ian Butler
Kevin Lewis
Darren De Reuck
Michael Crouch
Tyler Mueller (pacer)
Carlos Trujillo (pacer)
 
Women's Half Marathon
Mary Wacera
Mamitu Daska
Mare Dibaba Hurssa
Hiwot Gebrekidan Gebremaryam
Veronicah Nyaruai Wanjiru
Gladys Yator
Diane Nukuri
Muliye Dekebo Haylemariyam
Jordan Hasay
Aliphine Tuliamuk
Tigist Demisse
Sara Hall
Nazret Weldu Gebrehiwet
Madai Perez
Dera Dida Yami
Kellyn Taylor
Joan Aiyabei
Beverly Ramos
Alia Gray
Elvin Kibet
Susanna Sullivan
Natasha LaBeaud
Kelsey Bruce
Anna Weber
Joanna Thompson
Erin Burrett
Maria Elena Calle
Rosie Edwards
Emma Polley
Jamie Cheever
Amanda Scott
Kristen Arendt
Ana Maria De Vries
Kayla Atkinson
Kristin Louderback
Bria Wetsch
 
Men's Marathon
Birhanu Gedefa Chimdesa
Abayneh Ayele Woldegiorgis
Abrha Milaw Asefa
Dominic Ondoro
Yitayal Atanfu Zerihun
Andualem Shiferaw
Elkanah Kibet
Robert Cheseret
Birhanu Dare Kemal
Tim Young
Stephen Kersh
Semereab Gebrekidan
Jason Witt
Will Nation
Colin Leak
Meng-Tsung (Steve) Chu
Gregory Leak
Aron Rono
Jonny Hay
Brian Atkinson
Calum Neff (pacer)
William Firfth (pacer)
 
Women's Marathon
Birkutayit Degefa
Meskerem Assefa Wondimagegn
Sechale Dalasa Adugna
Rahma Tulsa Chota
Mary Davies
Mulu Melka
Becky Wade
Sarah Crouch
Serkalem Abrha
Yenenesh Tilahun Dinkesa
Hanna Nosekno
Rocio Cantara
Hiruni Wijayaratne
Nicole Dimercurio
Colleen De Reuck

For more information on the the 2017 Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon, visit www.chevronhoustonmarathon.com.

About the Houston Marathon Committee, Inc. 

Established in 1972, the Houston Marathon Committee, Inc. (HMC) annually organizes the nation's premier winter marathon, half-marathon, and 5K. Over 250,000 participants, volunteers and spectators make Chevron Houston Marathon Race Day the largest single-day sporting event in Houston. A founding member of Running USA, the HMC is an IAAF bronze level event that retained Gold Certification from the Council of Responsible Sport and was awarded the AIMS Green Award for industry-leading sustainability initiatives. Race Weekend generates over $50 million in economic impact for the region annually. In 2016, the Run for a Reason Charity Program raised $2.3 million, while the Houston Marathon Foundation supported youth and community running initiatives. Televised annually by broadcast partner ABC13, 2016 was the first time that the event was syndicated live nationally and internationally on ESPN3 and the Longhorn Network. Host to 16 U.S. Half Marathon Championships since 2005 and the 1992 women's Olympic Trials Marathon, the HMC also conducted the 2012 men's and women's U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon.