By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2018 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

PHOTO: Jordan Hasay and Molly Huddle in advance of the 2018 Aramco Houston Half-Marathon (photo by David Monti for Race Results Weekly)

HOUSTON (14-Jan) — The sun had yet to rise over the massive George R. Brown Convention Center here, when 33 year-old Molly Huddle of Providence, R.I., had pocketed three American road running records which had stood for nearly 16 years.

Tucked in the back of the lead pack of this morning’s 17th Aramco Houston Half-Marathon, Huddle shook off the near-freezing temperatures and swept through 10 miles in 50:52, 20-kilometers in 1:03:48, and the full 21.1-kilometer distance in 1:07:25, toppling the previous national records at those distances set by Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor at a half-marathon in Berlin, Germany, in 2006 (51:31, 1:04:07 and 1:07:34).  She finished seventh overall behind Ethiopia’s Ruti Aga (1:06:39), Kenya’s Caroline Chepkoech (1:06:48) and Mary Wacera (1:06:50).

“Oh, did we get all of them?  Oh wow, that’s amazing,” Huddle told Race Results Weekly, her voice cracking due to the onset of a cold.

Huddle ran for the record right from the start, sticking with the race leaders from the gun.  The race went out at a very honest 15:48 through 5-K and 31:34 through 10-K.  Huddle felt comfortable in the first half, but into the later kilometers she started to feel the cold and the fatigue.

“For about the first ten miles I just tried to hang off the back,” Huddle explained.  “I didn’t feel too bad until ten, then my legs kind of fell out from under me.”

From there, Huddle told herself that it wasn’t that far to the finish, and just to hold on.

“I just tried to survive the last three (miles) without falling down,” Huddle said.  “I knew it would be kind of close, because I was slowing down a lot.  I tried to stay with one or two of the guys who were finishing.  I was glad to get it.”

Jordan Hasay of Beaverton, Ore., who had hoped to challenge Huddle today, chose to run off the back and finished eighth in 1:08:38.

For Huddle, who will run her second career marathon at the Boston Marathon on April 16, there isn’t much time to celebrate.  She’ll be back in Flagstaff, Ariz., tomorrow re-dedicating herself to her marathon training.  She was grateful to the organizers here for setting up such a strong women’s field from which she benefited.

“I’m very lucky to be able to be ready to be here and run when these other women are here trying to run fast,” Huddle said.  “That’s always my best scenario.  I think that when it got hard, this is winding up well.  I’m lucky these women are here and we’re all running hard.”

The men’s half-marathon was won by New Zealand’s Jake Robertson in 1:00:01.  Robertson took a patient approach, then broke away from the field in the last two kilometers.  He beat 2:03 marathoner Guye Adola of Ethiopia (1:00:15) and Olympic Marathon silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa (1:00:20).  The top American was Sam Chelanga of Colorado Springs, Colo., in 1:00:37 in sixth place.

The half-marathon winners earned $12,000, plus time bonuses.  Huddle earned $1000 in prize money plus a $10,000 bonus for breaking 1:09:00.