Houston Marathon Committee Announces 2020 Elite Athlete Fields

January 8, 2020

Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon for Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020

HOUSTON (January 8, 2020) – The Houston Marathon Committee (HMC) announced yesterday a stellar elite field for the forty-eighth running of the Chevron Houston Marathon and the eighteenth Aramco Houston Half Marathon events taking place Jan. 19, 2020.

For the first year ever in HMC history, both the Chevron Houston Marathon and the Aramco Houston Half Marathon are World Athletic Gold Label events. This makes Houston home to the only Gold Label marathon and half marathon events in the United States, as well as the only global Gold Label marathon and half marathon events hosted on the same day. This status is awarded by meeting several criteria with the caliber of the elite field playing a major role.

“The awarding of gold label status marks the culmination of many years of dedication to the elite athletes in our sport,” said Chevron Houston Marathon Race Director and Board President Brant Kotch. “We are proud to showcase our support of these athletes through this recognition and feel it further emphasizes our commitment to clean sport.”

Returning Champions

The Chevron Houston Marathon welcomes back defending 2019 women’s champion Biruktayit Degefa, where she will try to become the only woman to win here in Houston four times, and 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).

Elite Field as of Jan. 7, 2020

Men’s Marathon

(First name, Last name)

Citizenship Personal Best
Woldaregay Kelkile Gezahegn ETH 2:05:56
Hassan El Abbassi BRN 2:04:43
John Langat KEN 2:07:11
Benson Seurei BRN 2:07:37
Dominic Ondoro KEN 2:08:51
Abdi Ibrahim Abdo BRN 2:08:32
Paul Maina KEN 2:08:49
Bonsa Dida ETH 2:09:04
Tsegay Tuemay ERI 2:09:07
Tariku Bekele ETH 2:09:30
Belay Tilahun Bezabeh ETH DEBUT
Stephen Scullion IRE 2:12:01
Birhanu Dare KEN 2:12:21
Mark Lokwanamoi KEN 2:08:39
Alexis Nizeyimana TAN 2:13:06
Jose Antonio Uribe Marino MEX 2:14:45
Craig Hunt USA 2:15:29
Rory Tunningley USA 2:16:25
Tony Migliozzi USA 2:16:44
Dylan Belles USA 2:16:59
Thomas Puzey USA 2:18:20
Michael Roeger AUS 2:23:31
Dan Harper USA 2:17:32
Amanuel Mesel ETH 2:08:17


Women’s Marathon

(First name, Last name)

Citizenship Personal Best
Bruktayit Degefa Eshetu ETH 2:22:40
Askale Merachi ETH 2:24:13
Shuko Wote Genemo ETH 2:24:28
Muluhabt Tsega ETH 2:25:48
Belaynesh Fikadu ETH 2:26:41
Meseret Belete ETH 2:26:56
Milliam Ebongon KEN 2:27:16
Bekelech Gudeta ETH 2:27:40
Sechale Dalasa ETH 2:28:46
Alexi Pappas GRC 2:43:38
Ayantu Dakebo Hailemaryam ETH 2:30:06
Malindi Elmore CAN 2:32:15
Hiruni Wijayaratne LKA 2:34:10
Adriana Nelson-Pirtea USA 2:35:45
Natasha LaBeaud CAN 2:37:11
Dylan Hassett IRE 2:39:55
Brenda Flores Munoz MEX DEBUT
Neely Spence-Gracey USA 2:34:55
Anne Johnston CAN 2:43:02
Andrea Soraya Limon MEX DEBUT
Ursula Sanchez MEX DEBUT


Men’s Half Marathon

(First name, Last name)

Citizenship Personal Best
Tola Shura Kitata ETH 59:16:00
Jake Robertson NZ 59:58:00
Bernard Kipkorir Ngeno KEN 59:07:00
Andamlak Belihu Berta ETH 59:10:00
Jemal Yimer Mekonnen ETH 58:33:00
Abel Kipchumba KEN 59:29:00
Shadrack Kimining Korir KEN 59:32:00
Philemon Kiplimo KEN 59:57:00
Gabriel Gerald Geay TAN 1:00:26
Jared Ward USA 1:01:42
Sam Chelanga USA 1:00:37
Diego Estrada USA 1:00:51
Bethwel Yegon KEN 1:00:57
Shadrack Biwott USA 1:01:25
Reed Fischer USA 1:02:06
Matt Llano USA 1:01:47
James Ngandu KEN 1:01:51
Jerrell Mock USA 1:02:15
Cameron Levins CAN 1:02:15
Dominic Korir KEN 1:02:17
Andrew Colley USA 1:02:24
Willie Milam USA 1:02:26
John Raneri USA 1:02:31
Futsum Zeinasellassie USA 1:02:33
Matthew McClintock USA 1:02:34
Brogan Austin USA 1:02:39
Alex Monroe USA 1:02:44
Luis Alberto Orta VEN 1:03:09
Louis Serafini USA 1:03:14
Andrew Epperson USA 1:03:17
Kevin Lewis USA 1:03:26
Tyler Jermann USA 1:03:31
Clayton Young USA 1:03:40
Danny Docherty USA 1:03:47
Kai Takeshita JAP 1:03:53
Tyler Pennel USA 1:04:06
Daisuke Momozawa JAP 1:04:09
Matt Leach GBR 1:04:21
Raymond Magut KEN 1:04:22
Juan Paredes USA 1:05:09
Grant Fischer USA 1:05:26
Rory Linkletter CAN DEBUT
Joel Reichow USA DEBUT
Andrew Leach USA  


Women’s Half Marathon

(First name, Last name)

Citizenship Personal Best
Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui KEN 1:05:07
Lonah Chemtai Salpeter ISR 1:06:09
Gelete Burka ETH 1:06:11
Dorcas Jepchirchir Tuitoek KEN 1:06:33
Ruti Aga ETH 1:06:39
Brillian Jepkorir Kipkoech KEN 1:07:12
Molly Huddle USA 1:07:25
Jordan Hasay USA 1:07:55
Sara Hall USA 1:09:27
Hitomi Niiya JAP 1:11:41
Monicah Ngige Wanjuhi KEN 1:07:29
Dorcas Kimeli KEN 1:07:44
Caroline Rotich KEN 1:08:52
Gotytom Gebreslase ETH 1:08:58
Aliphine Tuliamuk USA 1:09:16
Rachel Cliff CAN 1:10:08
Laura Thweatt USA 1:10:17
Katy Jermann USA 1:10:27
Molly Seidel USA 1:10:27
Natasha Wodak CAN 1:10:33
Elaina Tabb USA 1:10:44
Bethany Sachtleben USA 1:10:44
Stephanie Twell GBR 1:10:52
Becky Wade USA 1:11:15
Dayna Pidhoresky CAN 1:11:46
Lindsay Flanagan USA 1:12:05
Sarah Inglis GBR 1:12:23
Samantha Bluske USA 1:12:32
Jessica Watychovicz USA 1:12:35
Alexis Zeis USA 1:12:43
Jennifer Bergman USA 1:13:15
Molly Grabill USA 1:13:19
Allison Cleaver USA 1:13:21
Keira D’Amato USA 1:13:32
Maggie Montoya USA 1:13:33
Dakotah Lindwurm USA 1:13:39
Kelsey Bruce USA 1:13:41
Valerie Sanchez USA 1:13:44
Julia Kohnen USA 1:13:47
Meghan Armstrong-Peyton USA 1:13:56
Nell Rojas USA 1:14:17
Emily Durgin USA DEBUT
Annie Frisbie USA DEBUT


Prize Purse

The 2020 Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Marathon will continue to award prize money to the top eight finishers in all four races. A total of $291,000 in guaranteed prize money will be awarded, including a $45,000 first place payout for both the men’s and women’s champions at the 2020 Chevron Houston Marathon and a $20,000 first place payout for both the men’s and women’s champions at the 2020 Aramco Houston Half Marathon.

For a complete list of prize money please visit: www.chevronhoustonmarathon.com/participants/elites/

Additional Athlete Stories of Interest

 Chevron Houston Marathon 

  • Thomas Rivers Puzey– The outlier story of the 2019 Chevron Houston Marathon, 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.
  • 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 female 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.
  • Alexi Pappas, a 2016 Olympian for Greece in the 10,000m (she holds dual Greek-American citizenship), arrives in Houston with a 2:43:38 marathon personal best, but 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. 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.
  • Neely Spence Gracey runs her first marathon post-pregnancy after welcoming a baby boy in July of 2018. She has her sights set on qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Trials, after injury and illness kept her from competing in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Trials. Prior to pregnancy, Neely won the 2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon and then made her debut at the Boston Marathon. She finished in 2:35 – securing her spot as the top American, and ninth overall. After recovering from Boston, Neely won the Rock ‘n; Roll Chicago Half Marathon, and then closed out the year with an 8th place finish, (2nd American behind Molly Huddle), at the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon (2:34).

 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– 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.
  • Molly Huddle – The Women’s American Half Marathon Record Holder, 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. She currently lives and trains in Providence, Rhode Island with her husband Kurt Benninger and Coach Ray Treacy.
  • Jordan Hasay– With a marathon PR of 2:20:57 and now working alongside Coaching Advisor, Paula Radcliffe, Hasay is a favorite to make the U.S. Women’s Marathon Team for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. After a string of hamstring injuries that left Hasay on the sidelines for most of the past year, she comes to Houston as part of her final build to gauge her fitness heading into the Olympic Trials in Atlanta next month.
  • Sarah Hall – Hall enters the 2020 season with her eyes set on making a third U.S. Olympic team. On the heels of a massive marathon PR of 2:20:16 in Berlin last year, Houston will be a preview of her fitness level and her future in 2020.

 Athlete Development Program

The 2020 Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon boasts the largest Athlete Development Program field in the history of the events. More than 450 runners have met the qualifying standard to be categorized in this field where many will make their last attempt at achieving the Olympic Trials Qualifying standard to compete in Atlanta in a mere six weeks.

To request interviews with any of these athletes please contact Director of Marketing, Media & Brand – Muffy King at muffy@houstonmarathon.com

 About the Houston Marathon Committee, Inc.

Established in 1972, the Houston Marathon Committee, Inc. (HMC) is a founding member of Running USA and annually organizes the nation’s premier winter marathon, half-marathon and 5K. Over 300,000 participants, volunteers and spectators make Chevron Houston Marathon Race Day the largest single-day sporting event in Houston. Recognized by World Athletics, the Gold Label Chevron Houston Marathon has been the race site for three U.S. Olympic Trials Marathons and the Gold Label Aramco Houston Half Marathon has held 16 U.S. Half Marathon Championships. For eight consecutive years, the events have garnered Gold Certification from the Council of Responsible Sport and were also awarded the 2015 AIMS Green Award for industry-leading sustainability initiatives. Race Weekend generates over $50 million in economic impact for the region annually. In addition to its economic impact, the HMC facilitates social responsibility through its Run for a Reason Charity Program which has raised over $31 million since its inception and the Houston Marathon Foundation, which serves the greater Houston area through support of youth and community organizations that promote access to and participation in running. The event is televised annually national and international syndication airing on ESPN3 and the Longhorn Network.

For more information, visit www.chevronhoustonmarathon.com or call 713.957.3453