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home > races/results > usa: texas > chevron houston marathon continues to be the best little ‘ole race in texas!

Chevron Houston Marathon continues to be the best little ‘ole race in Texas!
(…and perhaps the US)

Chevron Houston Marathon continues to be the best little ‘ole race in Texas!

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2005 Article

By Christopher Russell
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 out.

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 this marathon.

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 to say.

Very runner friendly & fast too. The course is generally flat and fast. Crowd support is excellent and the race organizers cater to the runners!

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?

  • Runners want a well organized race that gives them lots of support and attends to their every need and has hassle free logistics. · Runners want on course entertainment and support including enthusiastic and cheering race fans.
  • Runners want to know that there is a good chance for decent weather.
  • Runners want a Boston qualifier opportunity in January.
  • Runners looking to qualify want a flat fast course.
  • Runners want to feel that they got good value for their entry fee and effort.
  • Runners want a race destination venue that is interesting and economical.

    Well above average – Without question, this one is the ‘how to’ of organization.

Outstanding Organization

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 watch me.

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 section.

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 at



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