The Houston Marathon weekend was one of my favorite events to attend from about 2008 to 2012. It kept January quite busy as the weekend before was the Disney Marathon, which we attended for about fifteen years with the RunningNetwork.
2017 was my first visit to the Houston Marathon in five years. I enjoyed the event immensely, and found some nice improvements in the race. Here is what I learnt from the race....
1. Few care about the two hour marathon. Most runners could absolutely care less about the chase for the two hour marathon. In the running community, marathon numbers seem to be down a bit, with half marathon numbers continuing to improve. With an average marathon time of 4 hours 45 minutes, anyone under 3 hours is superhuman to them. The citizen runners are impressed with runners from Ethiopia, Kenya and local fast runners, but the two hour marathon means little or nothing to the general running populace.
2. Jordan Hasay is a marathoner, and she should be a very good one! Jordan Hasay has raced hard on the track, and in cross country in college, and her debut in the half marathon was tremendous. Jordan ran 68:40 for the half marathon, a minute faster than Shalane Flanagan did in 2010 on the same course and number six all time American. The smile on Jordan's face, and smile on coach Peter Julian's said it all. Jordan Hasay has found the roads.
3. The marathon is a race with redemptive powers, part 1, ask Becky Wade. Becky Wade, a Rice graduate, and sponsored runner for 361 USA, had a rough race in Los Angeles for the Olympic Trials. In Houston, in windy, humid conditions, Becky Wade kept to her plan with her coach, running her own race, and charging into third place in PB of 2:35:57.
4. The marathon is a race with redemptive powers, part 2, ask Dominic Ondoro. Dominic has placed 4th and 5th in Houston. This year, Dominic battled a tough field plus humidity and win. Dominic hit the half with company in 65:44, and ran 2:12:05 for the win, moving away at 24 miles. Ondoro was quite happy, telling RRW's David Monti that he would definitely be spending his winnings on improving his farm and perhaps a few more cows (he has two acres with maze and two cows at present).
5. If you want Kenyans to speak in a relaxed manner, ask them about their farms and cattle. Many of the marathoners have small farms and a few cattle. David Monti was joking on one level, but quite serious. Many times, getting the Kenyan marathoners to speak is hard, as they may be embarrassed about their English or just overwhelmed, especially if it is first time in U.S. or Europe.
well, here's two more!
6. Leonard Korir taught us, the race is not over until its over! Leonard Korir has won his last two races with moves over the last 50 meters. In Endinburgh, Scotland, Leonard won over Callum Hawkins over the last 50 meters! Just in front of BBC cameras, Mr. Korir took the win with twenty meters to go. In the Aramco Half, Lelisa made his move with 400 meters to go. Korir waited until the final 200 meters, and his real move happened over the last 50 meters. This guys kicks like Bernard Lagat!
7. Skechers Performance knows how to do official apparel and footwear for marathons. The product was fun, full of sport, and colorful. Their booth was busy all weekend, and on the race day, Skechers put a booth in the area where 40,000 runners and their families congregated. Their sales looked very good, especially on race day. Liked the unique approach to race day. On the 5k on Saturday, Skechers set up a podium where you could take pictures, with flags, gold trophys and cowboy hats. At one point the line was over 200 people.