Chevron Houston Marathon continues to be the best little ‘ole race in Texas!
(…and perhaps the US)
Posted Thursday, 12 January, 2006
Last year I wrote about how the Houston Marathon was one of the racing communities
best kept secrets. Now it looks like the secret
is out. The event had another banner year in 2005 and continues to grow year
over year. With over 20,000 participants in the 2006 Chevron Houston Marathon,
Aramco Houston Half Marathon and Houston Press / Smart Financial 5K, this
Bayou City race has become a runner favorite and a January classic.
When it comes to hospitality, the Chevron Houston Marathon serves it up
Texas style. From the time runners pick up their race numbers until they walk
into the convention center after crossing the finish line, they are very well
treated. There is always a helpful Texan to give directions or to ask, “How
are ya’ll doin’?” The race has gone out of its way to make sure that every
marathoner will want to make the claim “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got
here as quick as I could!”
- Marathon and Beyond, Nov/Dec 2005
Evidence of the ascendancy of this event is the recent review in the Nov/Dec
Marathon and Beyond* review that rated Houston with the 2nd highest ranking ever.
Accolades continue to mount. They’ve got something good going on down by the
Gulf of Mexico on January 15 of this year and you should consider checking it
One of the Best Marathons in the Country. The Houston Marathon
is one of the best because the amazing numbers of fans that line the course.
And, the organization is terrific. I plan on doing it again. Also a great
value, many finisher’s gifts/awards.*
What Runners Want!
You may wonder, “How does the Chevron Houston Marathon continue to be successful
year after year?” It is because they follow a simple formula; “Give the runners
what they want!” Wouldn’t the world be a better place if all organizations catered
to their customer’s needs? The Chevron Houston Marathon is very good at giving
runners what they want. The result is a marvelous word of mouth endorsement
that has spread like ripples in the running community pond.
Houston: The Runner’s Marathon. I have run all of the big
marathons in the country: Boston, Chicago, New York, Marine Corp, etc. and
what differentiates Houston from all of those is that this is truly an event
that caters to the runners. In case you cannot tell, I highly recommend running
The best vote of confidence for any race comes from the participants themselves.
You can tell runners are getting what they want by listening to what they have
Very runner friendly & fast too. The course is generally
flat and fast. Crowd support is excellent and the race organizers cater to
Throughout this piece are salted some apropos snippets of actual participant
comments (and I swear I didn’t edit them or make them up). One thing that strikes
me is the extraordinary use of multiple exclamation points. Clearly this event
drives people in their emotional excess to abuse punctuation! From beginners
to veterans, from Midwest, Northeast, South and West, runners are so happy with
their experience at the Chevron Houston Marathon that they feel driven to tell
someone…and that’s really the bottom line.
The best one yet!! - I love everything about it including
the medal, t-shirt, sweatshirt, certificate and crystal mug. I will do this
one every year; it's my favorite for sure.
What runners want?
Good organization means that the event organizers have their act together and
everything goes off as planned. Marathon runners have enough challenges without
having to weather unprofessional surprises.
Houston has all the hallmarks of a well run organization. There is a large
and veteran team of volunteers who are committed to their jobs. The event is
well funded with active sponsors and 100% support of the local metro authorities.
Great marathon - This is a great urban marathon. Superb
organization and facilities.
Runners gave particularly positive reaction to the convenience of the George
R. Brown Convention Center. The hotel and convention center are right on top
of the start/finish line. In fact, runners appreciate being able to wait inside
the convention center right up until the start. (Especially those native Texans
who think 35 degrees is cold). No shuttle buses or parking problems.
In addition, the event is run on a completely closed course. No dodging traffic
or tense moments with jumpy truck drivers. It is just the runners and the roads.
Another Spectacular Marathon in Houston - I think that Houston
Marathon organizers do a great job in the organization, from the registration
to the website to the expo (which is always a fun event). They also do a great
job on the day of the marathon.
The hotels all have reasonable rates when compared to other big cities and
cater to the runners with late check outs.
The Expo is also at the convention center as is packet pick up. This all provides
hassle free – one stop shopping – for participants.
The event has local buzz. The city of Houston embraces the whole thing. It
is the largest one day sporting event in the calendar for them. The Chevron
Houston Marathon will be on the news, in the papers and the topic of conversation
for Houstonians for the weeks leading up to the race. (Unlike other cities where
you feel like an unwanted trespasser!)
Expo and general race organization was quite excellent - my husband loved
getting the email updates on his Blackberry while he navigated the race to
The event has always been on the cutting edge of technology use with electronic
runner alerts. This year they will take it a step further by creating a searchable
digital video of the finish. You will be able to search for yourself by name
or number, and see a 30 second clip of your finish. How cool is that?
The course was great, crowd support awesome, organization great.
Much of what counts in organization is the bad stuff that doesn’t happen because
everything has been taken care of. At the Chevron Houston Marathon it has all
been taken care of by a veteran, caring crew and it is part of the cultural
fabric of the city so that you, the runner, can just relax and enjoy your event.
The organization for this race given the number of runners is amazing.
From the text message/email update for splits to the split start and use of
the convention center. The aid stations were top-notch as well as the entertainment.
On Course entertainment and Thousands of Screaming Fans
The crowd was the best. - The crowd was numerous and enthusiastic, right
from the cold (37F) start and right to the finish line.
Houston has always been known for its crowd support and on-course entertainment.
They take pride in saying that they invented the concept of “Hoopla”.
Depending on your political persuasion you will be happy to know that President
Bush senior and multiple Elvis’ were seen shaking hands on the course last year.
Don’t be a hound dog, read my lips and bring your camera!
There are bands, belly dancers, jump ropers, and plenty of hootin’ and hollerin’
along the course. They will be yelling at you too because your name will be
printed on your bib.
Loved the belly dancers, the many Elvises, even the strangely plentiful
heavy metal bands. Great idea to put names on the bibs - even runners lacking
a t-shirt with their names written on it got to be part of the crowd's cheering
The different parts of the course all compete to see who can generate the most
noise and entertainment. It will keep you rolling along and keep you from thinking
about your legs and pace.
A Mid-January Qualifying Opportunity - With Great Weather
Hot in Houston? Not in January. The race temperature has averaged in the 40’s.
Last year was a little colder but still great runner weather.
The weather was perfect. I would strongly recommend this race for those
seeking to qualify for Boston.
With the race falling in mid-January you can train through the fall and qualify.
This will keep you from losing your conditioning before the spring.
Flat – Fast and Interesting Course
I came to Houston for the first time to visit relatives and to run the
marathon. I knew that the course was supposed to be flat and fast - that was
about the extent of my expectations. Having completed the race and reflected,
I can safely say that the Houston Marathon exceeded my expectations.
Being from New England I would consider it a very flat course, but many participants
have noted that it is not entirely flat. There is one “Hill” at mile 14-15
which is actually a highway overpass. Other than that, the elevation is not
a challenge and bodes well for pace management and qualifying.
Fans were great. Course was pretty flat. Great Texan hospitality on
every mile. Organization was superb. Tremendous pride in the city.
The course takes in all the scenic and historic bits of the city. Runners
make their way through many of Houston’s neighborhoods. The Marathon will
explore downtown Houston, Woodland Heights, Herman Park, Rice University,
the Galleria, Tanglewood, and Memorial Park.
There were also a lot of tree lined areas of the course that kept it
shady off and on.
Good Value for the Runner
This is a race that is a good value to the runner. You get a participation
shirt, a finisher shirt, medal, crystal mug, certificate and results. If you
sign up early enough they will even send you a “in training” T-shirt. There
is a well established pacing team, if you’re like me and have trouble holding
back. There is plenty of free food, a great big expo and of course pasta parties.
Another great feature is that Houston is a super cheap city. I stayed
at the Four Seasons, which was right at the start of the race, for a race
rate of $130 - other hotels were even cheaper. And no two-night minimum
was required. Restaurants were plentiful and also inexpensive.
What also makes Houston a great value is that it is and inexpensive city.
Everything is very reasonable. Unlike Boston, New York and Chicago, Houston
won’t leave your wallet light after the weekend is over.Great Destination
Race. More runners are looking for new places to go and interesting places
to have race adventures. All in all, Houston makes a great destination race.
It has a great event in a friendly city and won’t break you.
Oh, and y'all come back now, y'hear?
Leave that cold Chicago wind behind. Flee the mean streets of Manhattan.
Get away from the New England Chill. Grab the family and get your little ‘ole
self down to Houston for warm weather, friendly people and good food.
Houston has such a selection of restaurants that I probably didn’t carbo-load
properly and ran out of energy at mile 21. I had a great time anyway.
One outstanding thing is that Houston has great Mexican and Tex-Mex food.
. If you love Mexican flavors – not the bland stuff they pass off on us up
north – real, home cooked Mexican treats- you’ll love Houston. You will have
to run the marathon just to burn off all the refritos.
Houston is easy to get to with 3 major airports. IAH is the Continental hub.
Continental is offering special fares for the weekend to help people get there.
There is really no excuse not to come this winter.
Local Talent and Fast Elites
This year will be the 34th running of the Houston Marathon and what started
as a 138 people running loops in Memorial Park now has grown to 20,000 participants.
Over $802,000 was collected for charity last year.
The marathon event had total athletes of 5712 (Females: 2011 / Males: 3701)
The men’s winner was David Cheruiyat, with a ‘slow for Kenya’ 2:14:50.
The female winner was big local news and was a crowd thrilling favorite.
A local Houston area resident, Kelly Keane, won the woman’s marathon with
a 4 minute personal best of 2:32:27! (of course she’s a New England transplant).
The Aramco Houston Half Marathon will be the host for the US Men’s Half Marathon
Championships again this year. As a matter of fact Houston holds the record
for hosting the most national qualifying events and championship races of
any US race event.
Prize money increased again this year and is up to $172,900 in total prizes.
There are big bonuses for local runners and time incentives to go after the
course records. This prize package is sure to draw another big crowd of world
class international and US elites.
26.2 doesn't get much better than Houston. It was a great decision.
I PR'd again -- and truly had a blast.
There’s still time to make Houston your winter race. What else can be said?
Do it for the fast time. Do it for the adventure. Do it for the food and great
new friends that you are going to make. Get your self down to South Texas
and take advantage of one of the best organized, fastest and friendliest events
in the US!
For more information on the Chevron Houston Marathon, visit their website