January 19, 2014 | By Dale Robertson
Abebech Bekele crosses the finish line of the women’s Chevron Houston Marathon to win with a time of 2:25:52 on Sunday. (Cody Duty / Houston Chronicle)
By Dale Robertson and Jason McDaniel
Abebech Bekele of Ethiopia held on to win the women’s race in 2:25:52. It was her first-ever victory in a marathon, although she has run faster previously. She staved off a late challenge by two of her countrywomen to also earn $40,000 with her victory.
“I’m really happy and excited, coming to Houston,” Bekele said. “This is my first marathon to win but I participated in four other marathons.”
The Houston women’s record is 2:23:14, set by Alemitu Abera also two years ago.
Ethiopian men have won the last six Houston races and seven of eight. Ethiopian women extended their winning streak to eight.
“Houston’s importance has increased tremendously, and winning here has given us that energy and that love for Houston,” Bekele said. “I think Houston is one of the (most-respected) places among the Ethiopian runners at this time.”
The top American woman finisher was Heather Tanner, but she didn’t crack the top 10 overall.