By now, you would normally see a lot of signs around Houston for the Chevron Houston Marathon, which always takes place in the middle of January. Normally, you would have between 25 and 30-thousand runners going through the streets of Houston running the full 26.2 miles, or the half marathon of 13.1 miles.
Of course, Covid-19 changed things. Runners adjusted, and so did the event itself.
Despite their best efforts, the race was simply too tough to pull off live. So it will be virtual this year, and the virtual marathon is now underway.
Between now and January 17th, runners who sign up can run the We Are Houston 5K, Aramco Half Marathon, or the full 26.2 mile Chevron. Muffy King is the Marketing and Media Brand Director, and says runners have their choice. They can run one of these races before the 17th, two of them, or, if they are really adventurous, they can go even further.
"They can decide to run all three. We have about two hundred people that have decided to take on that triple challenge," King said, adding that she has decided to try and complete all three races, which is nearly 50 miles when you add them all together.
But running virtually means the streets won't be lined with spectators as they usually are for the marathon. It also means there won't be any street closures (though if you're driving you may see runners trying to emulate the actual course). King says the virtual race was the only way to make sure people stayed safe during Covid.
"They can walk out their front door, head out to Memorial Park or wherever route they want to run, start their tracker, complete the distance and submit the time to us," King said, explaining how it works. Once runners submit their times they get even more 'swag' than they got before the race, including a finisher's shirt and medal.
The field was capped out at 9,300 runners, which King says sold out with runners from thirty countries participating.
But that's this year. The Houston Marathon Committee is already planning for next year's race, which will be the 50th here in Houston.
If you're running, be safe and have a good run. If you aren't, and you know someone that is, by all means go out and support them.
In the interest of full disclosure, I ran the Aramco half last year. It was my first half marathon. An amazing experience. Here are some pics from my race.