By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2017 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

HOUSTON (14-Jan) — Here’s an assortment of news items ahead of tomorrow’s Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half-Marathon:

GOUCHER OPTIMISTIC ABOUT HASAY: Olympian Kara Goucher, who is in Houston as both a commentator for the television broadcast and to represent her sponsor, Skechers Performance, is feeling positive about Jordan Hasay’s potential at both the half-marathon and marathon.  “I think she’s going to do great,” Goucher told Race Results Weekly, referring to tomorrow’s half-marathon here.  She continued: “When she ran that race in Minnesota (the USA 10-Mile Championships last October), it kind of solidified what a lot of people thought, that she has the build and the gait to go farther.”  Speaking about Hasay’s marathon debut in Boston in April, Goucher added: “I think with Alberto as her coach, you’re going to be fine.  Alberto knows Boston.  The two times I ran the Boston Marathon with Alberto as my coach, I wasn’t even sore afterwards…  He’ll prepare her well.”

WITH WARM, HUMID WEATHER, ORGANIZERS WANT RUNNERS TO SLOW DOWN: Runners will be facing warm and exceptionally humid conditions on Sunday (about 74F/23C with 90 percent humidity), so organizers are urging them to slow down and protect themselves.  “This is not the weekend to PR,” said Wade Morehead, the Houston Marathon Committee’s executive director, using the popular abbreviation for ‘personal record.’  “Just slow down and have a fun day on Sunday.  The only way you can control your core temperature is to slow down.”  Sunday’s races will begin under a yellow caution flag using the Event Alert System, which indicates a moderate risk for participants and potentially dangerous conditions.  “Slow down, slow down, slow down,” added Dr. John Cianca, the marathon committee’s medical director in a statement.  “It’s going to be hot and humid – not ideal weather – so run responsibly and adjust your pace to reduce the risk of overheating. This is not the year to set a personal best. It will be more difficult than you anticipated, so make adjustments.”

TOP ETHIOPIANS WITHDRAW: Two top Ethiopian women, 2015 world marathon champion Mare Dibaba and 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon winner Tigist Tufa, have withdrawn from tomorrow’s Aramco Houston Half-Marathon. Dibaba experienced a death in the family, according to her manager, Hussein Makke, while organizers said Tufa was nursing an unspecified injury.  In the Chevron Houston Marathon, men’s defending champion Birhanu Gedefa was not able to obtain his visa in time.  Gedefa actually finished last year’s race in third position, but became the race champion when both Gebo Burka and Girmay Gebru were disqualified retroactively for doping.

LILESA READY TO RECLAIM HALF-MARATHON TITLE: Rio Olympic Marathon silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa said he has recovered from the Honolulu Marathon last month and is training well, despite remaining separated from his family in Ethiopia.  He won the half-marathon here in 2012 and is still the event record holder (59:22).  “(It is) different for me after Rio Olympics,” he told reporters yesterday.  “I am separated from my family, and I change my training.”  He continued: “After Honolulu Marathon I have worked hard, now I’m very good.  I wanted to run (well) on Sunday.”  Lilesa made global headlines when he crossed his wrists in a symbol of protest in support of Ethiopia’s Oromo people after finishing the marathon in Rio.  He has not returned to Ethiopia since leaving Rio, fearing for his life.

WACERA WANTS TO WIN: With her victory here last year in the Aramco Houston Half-Marathon, Kenya’s Mary Wacera ran the fastest-ever half-marathon in the Western Hemisphere by a woman: 66:29.  Although she won’t be pushed by training partner Cynthia Limo again (Limo is on maternity leave until 2018, her manager said), she said she’s ready to compete.  “I’m expecting the best,” Wacera told Race Results Weekly.  “I’ve been training well.  The weather won’t be so hot, not so cold.  I don’t know how the race will be, but if my body responds well and the race is good, I’ll run a fast time.”  The women’s race will use male pacemakers, she said.

PRIZE PURSE TOTALS $278,000: There is strong prize money in both the marathon and half-marathon here.  The marathon winners will receive $45,000 each, regardless of finish time, and time bonuses begin at sub-2:10 for men and sub-2:28 for women ($1000), and go up to $10,000 for sub-2:07:30/2:24:00.  There are also race record bonuses of $30,000 (sub-2:06:51/2:23:14).  In the half-marathon, the winners will receive $20,000 each, with the opportunity to earn time bonuses beginning at sub-62:00/71:00 ($1000) going up to $10,000 for sub-60:00/sub-68:00.  A course record (sub-59:22/66:29) is worth another $15,000.  All events will use pacemakers.

MAIN PHOTO: Kara Goucher speaking to a group of runners before the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half-Marathon (photo by David Monti for Race Results Weekly).