Houston, We Have Some Intrigue

By Mario Fraioli |

Will Jim Walmsley break 64 minutes to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon and take down some notable names at the Houston Half Marathon on Sunday? And how will Kara Goucher fare in her first marathon since 2016? Those are two of the most common questions I’ve seen thrown around in recent weeks and with good reason: Folks want to see the extent of Walmsley’s range and many are wondering if the 40-year-old Goucher’s got anything left in the tank. I’m not one for predictions so I’ll save my commentary for after the event while encouraging you to pay close attention to both half-marathon races—they’re going to be ripping fast, incredibly deep, and, in all likelihood, won by athletes whose names are not immediately recognizable.

The women’s field has six entrants who have run under 67 minutes and the men’s lineup features five guys with sub-60 minute credentials. And while you may Fancy an event record by Chemutai (keen observers will see what I did there), I will be watching the American women in particular: Emily Sisson seems primed to go fast—like maybe American-record fast—and is ascending on a trajectory that puts her on a short list of contenders to make the Olympic marathon team even though she’s never competed at the distance. (Yes, I think she’s that good.) Looking to challenge her will be Sally Kipyego, who won an Olympic silver medal in the 10,000m for Kenya in 2012 and became a U.S. citizen in 2017, and is gearing up for a return to the marathon at Boston in April. Finally, let’s not forget about NAZ Elite’s Aliphine Tuliamuk. I have no idea how fit she is but that woman knows how to race on the roads and may have a 1:08-something up her own sleeve.

The U.S. men’s field has some intrigue to it as well: Diego Estada, Luke Puskedra, Aaron Braun, Noah Droddy, Fernando Cabada, Shadrack Biwott, Parker Stinson, and Reed Fischer, to name a few, could all run in the range of 61 minutes or so. A few of them might run a little faster, which would surely set off some sparks on the message boards. And a couple might yet get beat by Walmsley, which would really set the internet ablaze.

Watch it all unfold for yourself on Sunday morning at these handy links.

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