Indo-Americans Participate in Large Numbers at Houston 2023 Marathons

Photo of an Indo American group at start at GRB at the 2023 Houston Half Marathon. Left to Right – Sesh Bala, Shirish Boradia, Kelly Rubio, Pankaj Desai, Dharti Mehta, Antaraa Sarkar and Chintan Mehta.

HOUSTON: The 52nd Chevron Houston Marathon and 22nd Aramco Houston Half Marathon held on Jan 15, again lived up to their reputation for being flat and fast, a qualifier for the U.S. Olympic Trials. Held “in-person” after 2 years of virtual marathons, it was a sellout with about 27,000 registered runners.  It was warmer than usual but a beautiful day; at start at 7 AM the temperature was 54 degrees rising to about 67 by 11 AM. The Indo Americans had a significant presence this year – running, walking and volunteering. There were many Indo American youngsters at the several water stations along the routes, handing out Gatorade and water to runners, and cheering them along!

The Marathon is the largest sporting event in Houston and accommodates runners with a broad range of abilities. The Marathon starts and ends at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown. The full marathon course is 26.2 and the half marathon 13.1 miles. This year, the men’s winner of the Full Marathon was Dominic Ondoro of Kenya, with a time of 02:10:36. Hitomi Niiya of Japan, took top honors for the women, with a time of 02:19:24. In the Half Marathon, Leul Gebreselase Aleme of Ethiopia, claimed the title in the men’s division with a time of 01:00:34. The women’s division winner was Hiwot Gebremaryam of Ethiopia, with a time of 01:06:28. Emily Sisson shattered her own American record in the half marathon by finishing in 1:06:52 and placed second behind Hiwot.

Photo of an Indo American group at start in Corral E at the 2023 Houston Half Marathon. Left to Right – Kanchan Kabad, Meera Narayana, Sesh Bala and Neeta Balsaver.

The Houston Marathon is also a charitable event; the runners and the organization raised money for many area charities.

The route has been essentially the same since 2017. The flow of some 27,000 runners through a common start gate can be challenging. It can take up to an hour for the last person waiting to cross the start line! The organizers had assigned the runners into five corrals based on running ability. The cheering squads at the hoopla stations along the route were entertaining as usual. The finish line at the Convention Center is always handled extremely well with spectators cheering you on as you finish.  Security precautions were very visible.  The organizers deserve much praise for the management of such a large race.

At start when all runners are assembled at the GRB convention center, you could see several individual and group runners from the Indo-American community. You could hear Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati, and certainly many other Indian languages being spoken. The Indo American community participation seems to increase each year!

The Houston Marathon has been a sell-out each year for many years. The next Houston Marathon is on Jan 14, 2024. There is also a 5K race the previous day. The registration is already open! The details are at the site  Organizations like HoustonFit, Fort Bend Fit and KatyFit can help with getting trained.