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The virtual marathon

We’re still not ready for things to be normal.

The 2021 Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon will be virtual due to ongoing public health concerns with COVID-19.

The 2021 Virtual Houston Marathon Running Events will be held over the span of 10 days where runners will have the option to complete the race distance anywhere between Jan. 8-17, according to the Houston Marathon Committee.

Participants who have already registered for the 2021 marathon will be able opt for the virtual race experience, which will include a discounted registration for the Chevron Houston Marathon 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2022; or defer their entry to one of the following two years (2022 or 2023); or donate their entry to the Houston Marathon Committee, which is a 501 c(4) nonprofit organization.

Half marathon registrants and We are Houston 5K runners will receive an email with instructions on how to complete their registration selection, according to a news release.

“At this time, we recognize that there are many unknowns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, but the safety and well-being of our runners, volunteers, partners, spectators and local Houston community will always be our top priority,” said Wade Morehead, committee executive director. “While we are unable to celebrate the 2021 event together in the heart of Downtown Houston, we will be cheering for our runners around the world as they participate in a unique virtual race experience, embracing the incredible spirit of our RunHOU community.”

I mean, none of this should be a surprise. The Marathon is an event where everyone is packed together, and even if the spectators and officials and volunteers were all wearing masks, there’s no way that the runners could. Doing it like this, where everyone just picks their own 26-mile course and registers to submit an official time for it, is the only way. This is just a reminder that seeing the calendar turn over into 2021 doesn’t mean anything in terms of the virus or its containment. We’re still in need of an actual federal plan, with actual leadership, to try to contain it, and eventually a vaccine to finally achieve some level of immunity. If we’re lucky, that 2022 50th anniversary marathon will be able to be run like it always has in the past. But as of today, we can’t say for sure that it will.

(You can register for the Marathon here, if that’s your thing.)

Marathon weekend

I’m sure you know that this Sunday is the Chevron Houston Marathon, but did you realize that there’s some hot marathon action happening on Saturday, too?

The 2012 Marathon Trials course

Organizers for Saturday’s U.S. Olympic marathon trials arrived Tuesday to find a city and a race course doused by rainfall, cooled by a timely cold front and poised for what organizers describe as ideal conditions for Saturday’s stop on the road to the 2012 London Olympics.

Saturday’s trials, a prelude to the 40th annual Chevron Houston Marathon on Sunday, will feature an estimated 158 men and 223 women racing for the three spots available in each category for the 2012 Games.

And the weather, in contrast to the miserable conditions that have gripped Houston for months, could scarcely be better.

[…]

Saturday’s trials will take place over a course that may be unfamiliar to fans of the Chevron Houston Marathon, which celebrates its 40th anniversary with Sunday’s run, but is well-known to the tens of thousands who attend the city’s Fourth of July celebrations in the Buffalo Bayou greenbelt west of downtown.

After runners start from the Discovery Green area near the George R. Brown Convention Center with an initial loop through downtown, the 26.2-mile Olympic trials course will follow an eight-mile loop on either side of the bayou following Memorial Drive to South Shepherd to Allen Parkway.

Runners will travel the loop three times before hitting the finish line at the convention center.

Here’s the Marathon Trials website. The main thing you need to know, at least if you live in my neck of the woods, is that Studemont and Heights/Waugh will be closed off between Washington and Dallas. They’ve had marquee signs up advertising that since New Year’s Day. It confused me a bit at first, because I knew the 14th is a Saturday, and the Marathon is always on a Sunday. Now I know. Metro service will also be interrupted by this, so beware. You want to see some really skinny people run really fast for two hours, this is the place to do it.

Olympic Marathon trials coming to Houston

We get multiple marathons in 2012.

Houston outbid the prestigious Boston and New York marathons and will host the men’s and women’s 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, the first time a city has staged both races.

USA Track and Field CEO Doug Logan said the organization’s board voted unanimously to award both races to the city and the U.S. Olympic Committee approved. He made the announcement Monday at Houston City Hall.

The races will be held Jan. 14, 2012, the day before the 40th Houston marathon. Runners will compete on a closed, multiple-lap course along Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive, with the top three men and women making the U.S. team.

Houston was picked because its fast, relatively flat course resembles that of London’s Olympic marathon; the mid-January date fits with the athletes’ training cycle; and it submitted “a stand-up, big-boy, adult bid,” Logan said.

Houston pledged $1.4 million to host one race, and $1.7 million to stage both. The funds, which will pay for event logistics, athlete travel and prize money, will come from corporate sponsorship, with support from the city and Harris County, Houston marathon managing director Steven Karpas said.

It doesn’t say who the sponsors are; I assume they’re already lined up, and we’ll know plenty about them before too long. Kudos to those who made it happen. Hair Balls has more.