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Posted: January 15, 2007

Athletics: Hall Shatters U.S. Record at Aramco Houston Half Marathon

Dryer wins USA women's half-marathon title; Tune breaks course and state records in marathon

Race report from Steve Karpas

HOUSTON - (January 14, 2007) - Ryan Hall separated himself from his competitors with a blistering 4:36 first mile, then ran the rest of the Aramco Houston Half Marathon alone on Sunday en route to a pending U.S. half-marathon record.

The 24-year-old runner from Big Bear Lake, Calif., ran 59 minutes, 43 seconds and became the first American ever to break an hour in the half-marathon distance on a record standard course. Hall beat the previous U.S. record, set by Mark Curp in 1985, by a minute and 12 seconds. The Team Running USA athlete obliterated the previous course record, set last year, by 2:24.

"I train in altitude," Hall said when asked about this significant record. "I saw my splits around 4:30 and then thought, 'I can do this.'"

Hall, in his half-marathon debut at the USA Championship, ran the last 12.1 miles through the streets of Houston alone in what was arguably the best-ever road performance by an American distance runner (and the 8th fastest man all-time at the distance on an unaided certified course).

Fasil Bizuneh and Meb Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic Marathon silver medalist, were left to battle for second place, finishing two seconds apart in second and third place, respectively, but more than two minutes behind Hall. Brian Sell, who won the U.S. half-marathon title here last year, finished sixth.

Hall, a Stanford grad, took home $21,000 for his efforts: $12,000 as national champion, $4000 in bonus money for the course record and an extra $5000 for the U.S. record.

Temperatures in the low 50s on Sunday morning made it a great day for setting records, and Hall was not alone in erasing past marks.

Dire Tune, 21, came to Houston to set a course record, according to her agent, and could proclaim "mission accomplished" 2:26:52 later. Tune shattered the old course and state records - set 23 years ago by former world marathon record-holder and 1987 10,000 meter world champion Ingrid Kristiansen - by 59 seconds.

Her previous best was 2:30:48 set in Los Angeles in 2005, where she finished fourth. The Ethiopian pocketed $25,000 for first place and an additional $10,000 for the Chevron Houston Marathon course record.

In the men's marathon, Feyisa Tusse of Ethiopia crossed the finish line in 2:11:39 - over two minutes ahead of his closest competitors. David Cheruiyot, 36, who won the race in 2005 and 2006, finished fifth. Tusse took home a $3000 bonus for running a time below 2:12 in addition to the $25,000 first place prize.

In the USA Women's Half-Marathon Championship, Elva Dryer and Kate O'Neill battled for the lead throughout the race. Dryer, a two-time Olympian, pulled ahead in the final stretch, clocking 1:11:42, a five-second victory over O'Neill, a 2004 Olympian.

"I had to maintain a good steady pace," said Dryer who won her fourth USA road crown. "A couple of us were together at the beginning. I knew she wasn't far behind the whole time." Dryer collected $12,000 for her title.

In the marathon, 14 athletes (ten men and four women) qualified for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials by running under 2:22:00 and 2:47:00 respectively.

At Houston's largest single-day sporting event, more than 18,000 runners took part in four marathon weekend events (marathon, half-marathon, 5K and children's run).

5th Aramco Houston Half Marathon: USA Championship - Houston, TX, Sunday, January 14, 2007

1) Ryan Hall, CA, 59:43*, $21,000
2) Fasil Bizuneh, VA, 1:02:20, $6500
3) Meb Keflezighi, CA, 1:02:22, $4000
4) Andrew Carlson, MN, 1:02:44, $2000
5) Jason Lehmkuhle, MN, 1:02:51, $1500
6) Brian Sell, MI, 1:03:10, $1250
7) Joe Driscoll, NC, 1:03:27, $1000
8) Dan Browne, OR, 1:03:55, $750
9) Travis Laird, MI, 1:03:57, $500
10) Justin Young, CO, 1:03:58, $250
*pending U.S. record (previous record, 1:00:55, Mark Curp, Philadelphia Distance Run, September 15, 1985)

1) Elva Dryer, CO, 1:11:42, $12,000
2) Kate O'Neill, MA, 1:11:47, $6500
3) Michelle Lilienthal, PA, 1:12:46, $4000
4) Alvina Begay, AZ, 1:12:57, $2000 
5) Tara Storage, OH, 1:13:14, $1500
6) Jenny Crain, WI, 1:13:37, $1250
7) Zoila Gomez, CO, 1:13:49, $1000
8) Kristin Price, NC, 1:13:52, $750
9) Ann Alyanak, OH, 1:14:24, $500
10) Samia Akbar, VA, 1:14:48, $250

35th Chevron Houston Marathon

1) Feyisa Tusse, ETH, 2:11:39, $28,000
2) Mikhail Khobotov, RUS, 2:13:46, $12,000
3) Benson Cheruiyot, KEN, 2:14:03, $7000
4) Nicodemus Malakwen, KEN, 2:14:12, $4000
5) David Cheruiyot, KEN, 2:15:55, $2000
Top U.S.
8) Michael Reneau, USA / WI, 2:17:46 

1) Dire Tune, ETH, 2:26:52*, $35,000
2) Beata Rakonczai, HUN, 2:30:14, $12,000
3) Firaya Sultanova-Zhdanova, 45, RUS, 2:39:06, $8500
4) Claudia Camargo, ARG, 2:42:32, $4000
5) Jenna Boren, USA / MN, 2:42:39, $2000
*course and state records (previous record, 2:27:51, Ingrid Kristiansen, 1984)

Complete results at:

Ryan Lamppa, Running USA Media Director
(805) 696-6232; Fax = (805) 659-0016

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