On Sunday, the Houston Chevron Marathon will be run, and the favorite to win is Bazu Worku. His status as the man to beat is well deserved.
The 22-year-old Ethiopian shined in the 2010 Berlin Marathon. He set a personal best time of 2:05:25 in that race, and that sparkling time combined with his age has him primed for another victory.
It was the eighth-fastest time in the history of the race.
The biggest challengers to Worku will be fellow Ethiopians, Debebe Tolossa and Teferi Balcha.
Tolossa was the runner-up from last year's event, but he had that success against a weaker field in 2012. Still, he finished the race in 2:07.41, which is certainly an acceptable time.
Balcha is an equally formidable threat to Worku. If frequent activity and proven endurance matters, Balcha's activity in 2012 has to count for something. He ran six marathons in 2012, and he finished three of them in less than 2:10:00.
Even though both Tolossa and Balcha have proven they are formidable marathoners, none have shown the speed potential that Worku has.
The favorite ran a little slower pace in Dubai in 2012, finishing that event in 2:07:48.
Though it wasn't up to his previously established standards, it was still a time that would likely allow him to best his competition in the Houston Marathon.
With so many of his countryman and rivals competing, I expect Worku to put on a spirited performance. I'd be shocked if he runs anything slower than 2:06.30.
In case you're looking for the top Americans in the race, it'll likely be Andrew Carlson and Fernando Cabada that best represent the home country.
The men finished sixth and seventh in the Olympic Trials in Houston in 2012, and they would be lucky to be that close on Sunday. Neither has a legitimate shot to defeat any of the Ethiopians.
Expect to see the sport crown a legitimate star as the young Worku will outlast his opponents for victory.
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