Runners endure cold and rainy conditions at 41st annual Houston Marathon
Although a field of 25,000 runners was expected at the 41st annual Chevron Marathon and Aramco Half-Marathon, many runners likely chose to stay in their warm beds on race morning.
Temperatures hovered in the forties, rain fell (heavy at times) and 20-plus mph winds blew as runners and walkers endured the elements while running either the 13.1 mile half-marathon or 26.2 mile marathon courses.
The once again sold out race had a stacked elite race and a $50,000 bonus was offered in the half-marathon race for any runner who could cross the finish with a new course record.
The record did not get broken on Sunday, but Fenisa Lilesa of Ethiopia crossed the line first in a very respectable time of 1:01:54. Mamitu Daska, also of Ethiopia, won the women's race in a time of 1:09:53.
Even though race conditions were not ideal, the marathon course record was almost broken in the women's race. Twenty-year old Merima Mohammed of Ethiopia crossed the finish line as the first women in a time of 2:23:27, only 23 seconds off the course record and the 2nd fastest marathon time ever by a female. In the men's race, twenty-two year old Bazu Worku won in a time of 2:10:17.
The Victoria area was well-represented in the marathon race with approximately twenty from our area competing, many of them racing the marathon distance for the first time.
Three runners ran exceptionally well, with John Klemczyk, Kathy Manning, and Denise Tomanek all meeting the time standard for qualification for the Boston Marathon.
Klemczyk was the top finisher overall from the area with his smoking fast time of 3:24:34, qualifying for the Boston Marathon in the men's 45-49 age group. He had narrowly missed the qualification standard last year, missing the mark by one minute, 30 seconds at the San Antonio Marathon.
Kathy Manning, who consistently tops all area female runners at the local races, was running in her first marathon ever and was able to qualify for the Boston Marathon with her time of 3:39:45, an astonishing 15 minutes faster than she needed in her 50-54 age group.
Denise Tomanek was the 3rd area runner to qualify for the Boston Marathon with a time of 3:39:54. Tomanek and Manning (who regularly run together along with Klemczyk at the Victoria Area Road Runners group runs), paced together for the majority of the marathon.
Tomanek has been on a quest to qualify for the Boston Marathon for the past four years, knocking her time down minute by minute. Last year, she crossed the line only a minute off of Boston's qualifying time.
"I've been dreaming of this since I was a teenager and I still can't believe my dream has come true," Tomanek said.
Other area finishers in the marathon: Casey Roth, 3:31:09; Andrew Condie, 3:40:17; Kimberly Johnson, 3:48.04; Paul Sturgis, 3:59:33; John Bednarczyk, 4:03:32; Hassan Sabbagh, 4:05:23; Ofelia Elizondo, 4:15:48; Doreen Simmang, 4:19:34; Dawn Brown, 4:25:27; Renee Noonan, 4:26:35; Shannon Jones, 4:26:37; Yolanda Garcia, 4:28:44; John Hyak, 4:34:50; David Bayarena, 4:39:32; Ramona Alvarado, 4:50:04; Natalie Bayarena, 4:50:55; Jacqueline Garcia, 4:52:53; Brandon Stafford, 4:52:39; Michael Vandeveer, 4:52:40; Cindy Herrera, 4:53:28; Mary Owen, 4:55:57; Patrick Kutchka, 4:58:56; Chrissy Wagner, 5:57:06.
Although no course records were broken in the half-marathon, two Ethiopians still ran exceptionally quick times in both the male and female races. Fenisa Lilesa won the men's race with a time of 1:01:54 and Mamitu Daska won the women's race with a time of 1:09:53. Michael Felchak was the top area male finisher with his time of 1:40:44 and Dorothy Rusch was the top female from the area with her time of 1:51:30.
Luciano Garcia, age 82, once again won his age group in the half-marathon with his time of 2:45:20. He had also won his age division at the San Antonio half-marathon back in November. Luciano is well-known in the Victoria community with all of his years of running under his belt. He says this will be his last half-marathon he will do.
Other area finishers in the half-marathon: Michael Felchak, 1:40:44; Chris Wagner, 1:43:54; Dorothy Rusch, 1:51:30; Ana Carol, 1:51:47; Leana Elliott, 2:03:57; Missy Janzow, 2:03:57; Craig Cannell, 2:08:26; Tiffany Saunders, 2:09:36; Dennis Gann, 2:11:03; Cara Vasquez, 2:11:33; Crystal Cantu, 2:15:02; Kemper Williams, 2:16:22; Russell Goebel, 2:17:32; Leigh Burton, 2:19:10; Ricky Servantes, 2:20:05; Trista Lauritsen, 2:20:53; Dacey Doerhman, 2:20:41; Kristen McReynolds, 2:24:16; Sonya Luna, 2:25:22; Jessica Helms, 2:29:39; Lori Foster, 2:32:48; Sarah Severson, 2:34:04; Mary Williamson, 2:34:52; Laura Glaze, 2:34:52; Nicole Velebil, 2:35:43; Darell Hoffer, 2:45:00; Luciano Garcia, 2:45:20; Manuel Alvarado, 2:46:22; Jerry Delafuente, 2:49:15; Kaydi Kacer, 2:55:01; Judson Severson, 3:10:51; Larry Heinhold, 3:14:14; Julie Hoffer, 3:19:42; Sharon Wiggins, 3:23:34; Brenda Heinhold, 3:37:57.