Tilahun Surprises Elite Men’s Field, Jepkosgei No Surprise As Women’s Champ at United Airlines Half

By Clay Shaw and Karen Mitchell

NEW YORK, NY, MARCH 17, 2019—Belay Tilahun, wearing bib #1163 was the surprise winner of the United Airlines New York City Half Marathon in 1:02:10.  Tilahun, from Ethiopia’s capital of Addis Ababa, was registered by the West Side Runners, and started just behind the professional field with the A wave.  Tilahun, was not a complete unknown, as he won the Bix 7 in Davenport, Iowa this past summer.  Tilahun also won the prestigious Sao Silverstere 15K in Sao Paulo, Brazil on December 31.  The 23-year-old Tilahun says he trains with Leul Gebresilase who won the Valencia Marathon in 2:04:31.  His future plans include a half-marathon in China, making the World Champs 2019 Ethiopian team in the 10,000 meters, and he hopes to run the NYC Marathon in the fall. 

Daniel Mesfun of Eritrea, who seemed to have the race won, was caught and passed in Central Park by Tilahun.  Mesfun finished six seconds back in 1:02:16.  Paul Chelimo of Colorado Springs, CO finished third in his debut at the distance, in 1:02:19.  Chelimo won the silver medal in the Rio Olympics in 2016. Jared Ward of Utah took fourth in 1:02:33, and Saucony teammate Noah Droddy taking 5th in 1:02:39.  Paul Chelimo said afterwards, “I think I’m fit.  It’s just the New York course is no joke.  I miss the track, it’s very flat, but this is very hilly, up and down. At some point my legs were dead, but then I recovered.  I feel I can do well at the long distances.  It’s just that I have to get the mileage in and get used to it, so my legs can handle that pace.”

Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya had an easy win in her first USA race, winning in 1:10:07.  One minute later, Mary Ngugi Wacera of Kenya, and 2018 champ Buze Diriba of Ethiopia were locked up in an all-out sprint to the finish.  Both women were timed at 1:11:07.  Wacera had a step on Diriba for second.  Americans Emma Bates of Idaho (1:11:13), and Des Linden of Michigan (1:11:22), took 4th and 5th.

Everyone’s favorite runner (see Facebook likes), Sarah Sellers of Tucson, Arizona finished 13th, with a new PR of 1:14:05.  Sellers told Karen Mitchell afterwards that she was pleased with her result, especially because she didn’t taper at all for the event, and her main goal is Boston. 

The Masters champs, who were both part of the invited pro field were Abdi Abdirahman of Tucson, AZ in 1:03:12, and Dot McMahan of Rochester Hills, MI in 1:19:16.  24,659 finished the half, almost equally divided among men and women, (49 more women).

Daniel Romanchuk 51:35, and Tatyana McFadden 57:18 won the Pro Wheelchair race.  Both athletes live in Maryland.

Top 20 Women

  1. 1:10:17  Joyciline Jepkosgei         KEN
  2. 1:11:07  Mary Ngugi Wacera       KEN
  3. 1:11:07  Buze Diriba                       ETH
  4. 1:11:13  Emma Bates                     ID
  5. 1:11:22  Des Linden                        MI
  6. 1:12:17  Birtukan Fente Alemu    ETH
  7. 1:12:33  Beverly Ramos                PR
  8. 1:12:43  Kellyn Taylor                    AZ
  9. 1:12:52  Samantha Palmer           AL
  10. 1:13:13 Lindsay Flanagan              DC
  11. 1:13:18  Edna Kiplagat                   KEN
  12. 1:13:38  Brittany Charboneau      CO
  13. 1:14:05  Sarah Sellers                     AZ
  14. 1:14:25  Alice Wright                     GBR
  15. 1:14:42  Nina Lauwaert                 BEL
  16. 1:15:32  Madai Perez                     MEX
  17. 1:15:38  Meseret Ali Basa             ETH
  18. 1:15:40   Sarah Pease                     IA
  19. 1:15:49  Annmarie Tuxbury          CT
  20. 1:17:17  Erika Fluehr                      NY

28.  1:19:16  Dot McMahan (42)          MI

FROM A WAVE (SUB 1:17)

     1:15:11  Chloe Richardson GBR

     1:16:16  Eva Luna RG

     1:16:27  Meghan Bishop NY

Top 20 Men

  1. 1:02:10   Belay Tilahun                  ETH
  2. 1:02:16   Daniel Mesfun                ERI
  3. 1:02:19  Paul Chelimo                    CO
  4. 1:02:33   Jared Ward                      UT
  5. 1:02:39   Noah Droddy                   CO
  6. 1:02:41   Brogan Austin                 IA
  7. 1:02:51   Tim Ritchie                      MA
  8. 1:02:51   John Raneri                     CT
  9. 1:02:55   Parker Stinson                CO
  10. 1:02:56   Ben True                          NH
  11. 1:02:59   Soufiane Bouchikhi        BEL
  12. 1:03:12   Abdi Abdirahman  (42) AZ
  13. 1:03:30   Sid Vaughn                      AZ
  14. 1:03:30   David Nilsson                  SWE
  15. 1:04:03   Brian Shrader                  MA
  16. 1:04:30  Seth Totten                      CA
  17. 1:04:31  Diriba Yigezu                    ETH
  18. 1:05:10  Cam Levins                       CAN
  19. 1:05:27  Colin Leak                         PA
  20. 1:05:48  Ken Nakayama                JPN
Belay Tilahun of Ethiopia moved through the entire pro field from the AA wave to win in 1:02:10. Tilahun, caught Daniel Mesfun (in background) in Central Park.
Daniel Romanchuk of Mt Airy, MD wins the PRO WC race in 51:35, much to the delight of the banner holding flight attendants.
Tatyana McFadden of Clarksville, MD breaks the tape in 57:18.
Pro Men WC Podium: Van Dyk 2nd, Romanchuk 1st, and Pike 3rd.
Pro Women WC podium: Schar 2nd, McFadden 1st, Scaroni 3rd.
Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya won the United Airlines NYC Half by one full minute, in 1:10:07.
Mary Ngugi Wacera of Kenya places second among women, just edging 2018 champion Buze Diriba of Ethiopia.
Emma Bates of Boise, Idaho was 4thF in 1:11:13.
Paul Chelimo of Colorado Springs, CO places on the podium in 3rd in his debut at the half marathon distance.
Jared Ward of Utah finishes 4th in 1:02:33.
Sarah Sellers of Tucson, AZ runs new PB of 1:14:05 and placed 13thF. Noah Droddy of Boulder, CO placed 5th in the Men’s Pro Race.
Tim Ritchie of MA places 7th, fellow New England runner John Raneri of CT placed 8th. Park Stinson of CO placed 9th, all three under 1:03:00.
Abdi Abdirahman of Tucson, AZ was top master, and 12th overall in 1:03:12.
Sid Vaughn of Northern Arizona Elite ran a PR of 1:03:30, placing 13th.
Annmarie Tuxbury of CT placed 19thF.
Veronica Jackson of NJ places 24thF
Kathryn Fluehr of CO placed 27thF, her twin sister Erika was 20thF
Dot McMahan of Michigan was the top master female.
Luis Rivero of Guatemala placed 24th.
Chloe Richardson of Great Britain ran 1:15:11, and was the first female from the AA wave.
Carly Gill and Andrew Dearling of NY enjoy a moment after the UA NYC Half Marathon. Gill ran 1:19:44.
Brian Reynolds of Bloomfield, NJ ran a 1:19:43, on his Run Blades.
Sarah Sellers of Tucson, AZ quite pleased with PB training for Boston Marathon.