Desi Runners Test their Mettle at the Chevron Houston Marathon


From left: Nach Nachiappan, Pankaj Desai, Tara Rao, Bala Balakrishnan, Jyoti Rao, Soni Vaswani, Kanchan Kabad and Sesh Bala.

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: This past Sunday was the testing point for all the strenuous training and diet that many runners in the Bayou City had been working towards for the past several months as an estimated 25,000 converged on the George R. Brown Convention Center to participate in the annual Chevron Houston Marathon.

The Chevron Houston Marathon is a world-class event and attracts athletes from around the globe. This year there were 13,000 in Full Marathon (26.2 miles) and 12,000 in Half Marathon (13.1 miles) runners registered. The 5K race was held the previous day for better crowd control and management. There were thousands of volunteers and over 250,000 spectators. The Marathon starts and ends at the George R. Brown Convention Center downtown. Each year the organizers make some changes, usually for the better. This year the route saw some changes from the 2014 route, and included stretches on West Gray, Inwood, Upper Kirby, Bissonnet and the Museum District.


From left: Dr Desikan, Dr. Suneja, and Dr Pai.

Among them were a number of desi runners, some of them ran in teams, a group that has been growing in number each year as more and more of them take up the sport. “I think marathon running is quite addictive,” said Kanchan Kabad who ran the entire 26.2 mile course across the city and has already signed up for the 2016 run. She ran the course in 5:52 hours for her favourite charity CanCare, a cancer fighting group and was met at the end by her family and friends.


Kuldip Kaul

Others like Dr. Sanjay Sharma ran the 13.1 mile half marathon because he has grown accustomed to running in order to keep in shape. Sharma ran the course in 2:13:36 hours for his favourite charity, Citizens for Animal Protection. Among the many other desi runners were Sahana Rao, Sesh Bala, Nach Nachiappan, Pankaj Desai, Tara Rao, Bala Balakrishnan, Jyoti Rao and Soni Vaswani.


Sanjay Sharma

On the other hand, Dr. Kuldip Kaul didn’t have a charity in mind when he registered for the half marathon, finishing in 2:07 hrs, just 8 minutes slower than his pace last year. Kaul runs for the fun of it and this was his fourth Chevron Houston half marathon. He has run several others including the Santa Hustle and the Turkey Trot. In addition, Kaul has done the MS 150 from Houston to Austin eight times!

And the team of cardiologists from Katy, all partners in the Cardiology Center of Houston, were all heart when they ran the half marathon together. Drs. Randeep Suneja, Ramamanohara Pai and Kamalakannan Desikan ran for their favourite charities, Houston Habitat for Humanity, Houston Food Bank and the Marine Corps Scholarship Fund. Suneja finished in 2:33 hrs; Pai in 2:17 hrs and Desikan in 2:22 hrs.

Sesh Bala contributed to the story