Deriba Merga of Ethiopia aims for North American marathon mark

Houston Chronicle

By DALE ROBERTSON

Jan. 16, 2009

When Chevron Houston Marathon officials invited Deriba Merga to this year’s race, they told him they’d very much like him to break the 20-year-old course record.

Merga, however, has something else in mind, something just a tad grander. If everything goes according to plan Sunday, he’ll leave town with the North American record. Asked by a reporter at Friday’s news conference what time he hopes to run, he replied, “Two-oh-five.”

To which the reporter, thinking he might not have understood the Ethiopian’s limited English correctly, replied, “Two-oh-five? Here? Sunday?”

“Yes, yes,” he said.

Merga, who clocked a personal best 2:06:38 in 2008 and finished fourth in the marathon at the 2008 Olympics, is without question the fastest runner ever to compete in the 37-year-old Houston race. But to hear that he’s gunning for 2:05 is extraordinary news, considering nobody has ever completed the 26.2-mile course in faster than the 2:10:04 Kenya’s Robert Kaitany posted in 1989. Read more at Houston Chronicle.


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