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2018 Houston Marathon

Sesh-Bala-in-1

From left: Kinner Patel, Shirish Boradia, Nat Annamalai, Sesh Bala, Shilpi Desai, Pankaj Desai, Jui Jagad, Chintan Mehta. With 2018, Sesh Bala has completed 15 Houston Half Marathons and Pankaj Desai has completed 10.

HOUSTON: It was a cold 35 degrees and wind chill of 29 at 7 AM at start of the 47th Houston Marathon race on Sunday, Jan 14.  The near freezing cold weather did not deter the runners! The sun came out bright with clear skies at later 8 AM making the cold somewhat bearable. It was a sell-out marathon at 27,000 runners, half each for the Full Marathon (26.2 miles) and Half Marathon (13.1 miles). A determined group of Indo Americans as well was out in open space, running and walking, and making their presence felt at the 2018 Chevron Houston Marathon.  

The Marathon is the largest sporting event in Houston with 27,000 registered runners, 7,500 volunteers and over 200,000 spectators. A 5K race was held on Saturday for better crowd control and management. The Marathon starts and ends at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown. The prize money for the Full Marathon first place was $45,000 and for the Half Marathon $20,000. It is the same amount for men and women. The men’s full marathon was won by Bazu Worku of Ethiopia with a timing of 2:08:30 hours. The women’s full marathon was won by Biruktayit Degefa also of Ethiopia with a timing of 2:24:51. The men’s half marathon was won by New Zealander Jake Robertson with a timing of 1:00.01 hours. The women’s half marathon was won by Ruti Aga of Ethiopia with a timing of 1:06:39 hours. Many personal records were broken. Some said the cold weather actually helped! There were a couple of men who ran shirtless! The Marathon is also a charitable event; the runners and the organization raise money for many area charities.

Each year the organizers make some changes. This year, the route was the same as in 2017. The organization of flow 27,000 runners through a common start gate was not as efficient as in prior years; it took about an hour for the last person to cross the start line! However, the finish line at the Convention Center was handled extremely well.  The cheering squads at the hoopla stations along the route were entertaining as usual; the spectators came bundled up and prepared.  Security precautions were very visible.  The organizers deserve praise for the management of such a large race.

A casual scanning and observation suggested the Indian American community participation is somewhat steady; there is room for much growth and greater presence as runners, walkers, volunteers and spectators.

The Houston Marathon has been a sell-out each year for many years. Jan 2019 Marathon registration was already open on Jan 15! The details are at the site chevronhoustonmarathon.com. Organizations like USA Fit, Fort Bend Fit and KatyFit can help getting trained.

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