Appropriately enough for the city that’s synonymous with big oil, the Houston Marathon & Half Marathon enjoys the sponsorship of Chevron and Aramco and draws a Texas-sized field of about 25,000 runners and a couple hundred thousand spectators every year.
The race takes those running in both the half and the full marathons along a fast and flat course that’s been called one of the nation’s “fastest winter marathons” by the editors of the Ultimate Guide to Marathons.
The course for the half marathon starts with the full marathon, along Congress between Caroline and San Jacinto, just a few blocks away Minute Maid Park — the home of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros — and shares the same route as the 26.2-mile race for the first 8 miles.
From the starting line on Congress, runners will head west toward Franklin Street and then to Washington Avenue, which takes them through Houston’s Washington corridor. About half-way between the 2nd and 3rd mile markers, the course turns left on Heights Boulevard and heads south across Buffalo Bayou and into Hyde Park, where runners will turn right on West Gray Street.
That’s followed by turns on San Felipe Street, Kirby Drive and Bissonet Street, for a stretch that brings runners close by the campus of Rice University, the Houston Zoo and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. After they pass the museum — the past several miles will have been an almost all-flat stretch through the city — they’ll head north along Montrose Boulevard to the Allen Parkway, where runners turn right for the home stretch back into downtown for the race finish.
Those running the half marathon will have 4 hours to complete the course, which means at least a pace of 13:45 minutes per mile over the first nine miles of the race, organizers add. Walkers are welcome to participate in the half, provided they can keep enough of a pace to finish in four hours.
Organizers limit the number of entrants to 25,000 for the marathon and half marathon combined, with 13,000 spots reserved for the full marathon and 12,000 reserved for the half marathon. Runners are strongly encouraged to sign up as soon as possible, as this race sells out very early every year.
The race starts at 7:00 AM
Known for its hot and humid weather for much of the rest of the year, Houston enjoys generally cooler conditions in the wintertime, and typically sees ample rainfall throughout the year.
In January, temperatures average between 45°F and 63°F, while rainfall totals average just over 3.8 inches for the month. On the day of the race (Jan. 20), the average low is 45°F and the average high is 63°F.
The course for the half marathon starts separately from the full, just a few blocks away from Minute Maid Park — the home of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros — and shares the same route as the full marathon for approximately the first 8 miles. Runners follow the route as it curves through a series of city parks, including White Oak Park, Hogg Park and Stude Park, and then along the Allen Parkway and Buffalo Bayou Park on the way to the finish line in front of Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center.