If you read the local news rag or listen to the local news, one might assume there is some sort of big event this weekend. 2012 will mark the 40th Anniversary for the Houston Marathon and it is tagged to be the largest single day sporting event in Houston. I mentioned that there will be ~24,000 runners on Sunday. What I did not mention that there will be close to 50,000 spectators, volunteers, coordinators on the street as well. Last year they generated close to $51.1 million in total economic impact for the city (hotels, restaurants, businesses, etc.) and the Run for a Reason charity program netted $2.1 million for local nonprofit groups.
This is actually a weekend event with a build up to Sunday’s run. The Health Expo runs Friday & Saturday generates a lot of business/crowds. In conjunction with the Marathon on Sunday, this year they will also hold qualifying trials on Saturday for the Marathon for the 2012 Olympics in London. There will be some serious runners who will participate in the trials on Saturday and then repeat the actual Marathon on Sunday. This shindig is getting lots of PR in the local news. Lots of stories are being posted every day detailing people’s reasons for running. One group is doing it to raise funds for a family where the husband and wife were killed in an auto crash earlier this year and the surviving sons were severely injured. Two years back, there was a blind Army Captain running the race (I saw him during the run). Yesterday there was the story about a woman who is an “Ultra Marathoner” – one of those people who do triathlons every weekend. She intends to run the Marathon “backwards”. Not literally backwards, but she intends to run the course from finish to start BEFORE the actual race start and then run the course with the normal runners. I may be a bit slow in the math department, but I think that translates into 52 miles. She is planning to start her backwards run at 0400 in order to make the start line before the starting gun at 0700. There are hundreds of stories why people run this thing, each with their own motivation. As I’ve said before, I do it as a sort of spiritual kick in the ass to remind me I’m still alive. The Marathon committee does push the charity donations quite heavily through their “Run For a Reason” drive. Well over 30 different charities are represented ranging from American Cancer Society to Elves andMoore to Houston SPCA to the Ronald McDonald House. This year I have set my sights for the Epilepsy Foundation, even if I don’t make the finish line. Rain, shine, run, walk, or crawl, my money is already tagged for the Epilepsy Foundation.
And for those who have expressed concern over my survival, thanks for the encouragement, but let me assure you I will survive the trek. Come Sunday morning, I may be grumpy and my knees may not speak to me come Monday, but I can make a half marathon (13.1 miles). I know that some people out there are probably scoffing about this run (or rolling their eyes loudly). I imagine for certain runners (especially those living in the mountain states), 13 miles is just a freakin’ warm up run.