Each year the Aramco Houston Half Marathon unfolds with amazing athletic achievement by elite runners set against the backdrop of thousands of personal stories of recreational runners facing the 13.1 mile course determined to succeed. This was the 14th year Aramco served as title sponsor of the Houston Half. “The event has always represented something special to us, but this year it takes on an even greater significance as the City of Houston continues to recover from Hurricane Harvey,” said ASC President & CEO Basil Abul-Hamayel during the opening Marathon weekend press conference. “The race embodies the energy, spirit and resilience of the Houston community,” he added.
Aramco employee volunteers and Aramco-sponsored Saudi students have planted trees, packaged food and helped in the restoration of homes with organizations such as Trees for Houston, the Houston Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity and others to aid in recovery efforts.
Aramco donations in the community have supported the rebuild of homes and getting children back into schools closed by the flooding. The company participated in the charitable component of race weekend, Run for A Reason, selecting as its charity partner Dress For Success.
Similarly, many individual runners elected to run for one of the 58 other charities with a personal connection to them—for some Houstonians that charity had a Harvey component.
This year one of the largest group of Aramco runners—120—participated in one of the three featured races. Our runners were matched by the enthusiasm of hundreds of employee volunteers, their family and friends who were out in full force throughout the weekend. Aramco volunteers lined the race course, handed out medals at the finish line, and staffed the company’s popular booth at the Health & Fitness Expo featuring famed Olympic champion and past winner of the half marathon Meb Keflezighi signing autographs.
Coverage leading up to the event described it as “one of the most competitive half marathons ever run on American soil.” The deep field of elite men and women runners had the long distance running community on high alert for new American or World Records.
The race did not disappoint. It was a cold, crisp day making for fast times.
Billed as the American showdown between Molly Huddle (USA) and Jordan Hasay (USA), Huddle set a new American record with 1:07:26, a record that had stood since 2006. While an American women’s record was set, the winner of the women’s division was Ruti Agar (Ethopia) with 01:06:39, the second fastest time in race history.
In the men’s division, breaking the finish line tape was Jake Robertson (New Zealand) who matched his personal best of 1:00:01 to win the race. Robertson beat out a closely watched pair of contenders from Ethiopia, Feyisa Lelisa and Guye Adola, with Lelisa a two-time half champion.
With Houston among the most diverse cities in the U.S, the popular half marathon is a natural fit attracting runners from all 50 states and 49 countries. Whether setting a record or recording a personal best time or simply crossing the finish line, all 33,000 runners are champions.