Japan's Hitomi Niiya ran away with the Houston Marathon women's title Sunday, finishing 12 seconds outside the course record in a personal-best 2 hours, 19 minutes and 24 seconds.
The national 10,000-meter and half-marathon record-holder, Niiya fell just short in her bid to break Mizuki Noguchi's Japanese marathon record of 2:19:12, set at the 2005 Berlin Marathon.
She crossed the finish line more than six minutes ahead of runner-up Muliye Dekeb Haylemariyam of Ethiopia, who had set the early pace on the downtown Houston course.
"There were painful moments but my supporters gave me a big boost," Niiya said.
"Although I didn't achieve my goal of breaking the Japanese record, I've steadily improved. I want to give it another try at the next Berlin Marathon (in September)."
Kenya's Dominic Ondoro won the men's title in 2:10:36, while Kenta Uchida was the first Japanese runner across the line, finishing sixth in 2:14:13.