01 April 2015, 7am
Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon
Sun 18 January 2015
Houston Marathon race weekend starts with the expo, where over 60,000 runners come to pick up their race number and goodies, and then browse among 125 exhibitors showcasing the latest in running gear, health, fitness and nutrition products, clothing, and more. In all 31,000 runners participate in the title race and its associated events: the Aramco Houston Half Marathon and ABB 5km.
On Saturday morning 6,000 take part in the ABB 5km, some to shake their legs in preparation for the main events on Sunday, but the race also provides an opportunity for new runners, families, and charity fund raisers to strut their stuff.
On Sunday morning runners converge on the capacious George R. Brown Convention Center to check their gear in and warm up in a bright, climate-controlled environment until it’s time for them to head to the start. The first gun goes off at 06.45 for the wheelchair and handcycle races; at 07.00 the gun fires again as the Marathon and Half Marathon runners get underway.
The course takes runners through some of Houston’s most interesting and historical neighborhoods, allowing them to enjoy the diversity and energy of the fourth largest city in the United States. Over 200,000 spectators line the route, which starts downtown and continues along the Washington Corridor, an eclectic mix of lounges, honky-tonks, wine bars and restaurants. From 6–10km runners wind their way through a luxury neighborhood which contains some of the most coveted real estate in the city.
Approaching 16km the course traverses the Texas Medical Center — the largest in the world — and the tree-lined campus of Rice University. The City of West University Place, or “West U,” covers 16–19km, before participants move into the Galleria, Houston’s best-known shopping district, between 21–25km. From 30–35km the route goes through Memorial Park, one of the largest urban parks in the United States, covering over 560 hectares, before runners head back downtown along the recently renovated Buffalo Bayou Park to finish next to Discovery Green, a five-hectare urban park in the heart of downtown Houston.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been so sad that a race was over,” said local runner Lindsay McClelland, “…because I have to wait a full year to do it again.”
Once be-medaled, finishers re-enter the Convention Center to receive their finisher shirts and mugs and pick up their gear. They are provided with a hot breakfast at the food court before rejoining friends and family in the reunion area.
Post-race recovery and celebration is available at the ‘We Are Houston RunFest’ on Jones Lawn in Discovery Green. Food, drink and music are offered free to all: runners, supporters and the public at large. The festive atmosphere provides a great opportunity for runners to meet up with friends and family, hang out, and relax. Right alongside is the Charity Village, where charity runners and running clubs leisurely mingle, celebrating the day’s events.
The Chevron Houston Marathon ‘Run for a Reason’ charity program hosted 60 official charities in 2015 and has raised $2.2 million so far this season. The Run for a Reason program provides an avenue for race participants, individuals and organizations to collect donations on behalf of an official charity of their choice. It also provides a platform for charities to raise awareness and educate others about their cause.
Throughout its 43-year history, the Chevron Houston Marathon has played host to more than 150,000 participants who have crossed the finish line since 1972. In 2015 a record number of 7002 runners finished in under six hours. At the front near-perfect conditions yielded speedy performances: Yebrgual Arage ran the second fastest time ever by a woman at Houston, and Birhanu Gedefa outkicked Gebo Burka to take the men’s race. It was the seventh straight sweep of the titles by Ethiopians.
Over the past 14 years race weekend has featured the Aramco Houston Half Marathon which over that period has seen an additional 100,000 runners cross the finish line, including a record 11,654 finishers in 2015. Over the past two years, the Aramco Houston Half Marathon has played host to the men’s and women’s USA Half Marathon Championships. In the past 10 years the race has hosted 16 national championships for USA Track & Field.
This year Diego Estrada won the men’s race in the third-fastest time ever run by an American and also the third-fastest ever at Houston. Women’s winner Kim Conley ran the fifth-fastest time ever at Houston and the second fastest by an American woman.
Over 250,000 participants, volunteers and spectators make Chevron Houston Marathon the largest one-day sporting event in the city. Race weekend generates over $50 million in economic impact for the region annually, and runners have raised over $21 million for charities since 1995. The Houston Marathon Foundation directly supports national elite runners, local infrastructure projects for the running community and after-school running programs for at-risk youth.
On 17 January 2016 the 44th Chevron Houston Marathon and 15th Aramco Houston Half Marathon will host 27,000 runners. Each race will be capped at 13,500 entries. The ABB 5km will be capped at 6,000 participants. The overall total of 33,000 registrants will be the highest yet.
Both races have sold out over the last 10 years. Entries for 2016 will be accepted in a three-stage registration system that will replace the lottery that has been in operation since 2010. Early registration sold out 10,000 places in January 2015, while guaranteed registration will open during May for selected groups. The final registration period opens on 3 June and continues until all places are sold out.