My CYJ article this week is all about reader participation. I’ll start the ball rolling and tell you a bit about my two favorite 26.2 mile marathon races.
I’ve participated in small marathons, large marathons, and all sizes in between. My prehistoric memories are starting to fade a bit, but if I had to pick a favorite from my early racing days it would be the Houston-Tenneco Marathon in 1984.
This was the final year for the original double-loop course. Houston was already an established world-class event and the 1984 race was relatively large (over 5,000 runners) and very competitive due to big money prizes for the top runners. The thing that really struck me about Houston was the overall attention to detail. The event was beautifully administrated and I still remember it as my first race experience that included cumulative splits at each mile mark along with the corresponding pace-per-mile…nice touch. We lucked upon a perfect weather morning and things just happened to click for me on that day long ago. The mid-January race date almost always results in cool weather conditions, which I always prefer. Houston-Tenneco is now the Chevron Houston Marathon and I’ve heard it’s still an awesome event.
Fast forward to the modern era and I’ll stay with a Texas theme. In 2008 I made the trip over to Austin, Texas to run the much-heralded Austin-Motorola Marathon. I had run an early version of the Austin Marathon in 1986, but the race had grown by leaps and bounds over two decades. Once again, this was one very well organized event. Although I started to die a slow death on the substantial hills around mile 22, I was so impressed with entire course, aid stations, crowd support, and especially the phenomenal bands positioned every two miles.
The city of Austin has long been known for its world-class music scene and I was astounded by the caliber of musicians who showed-up (early in the morning no less!) and played their hearts out for six hours straight. Modern day Austin is a big race – over 17,000 runners in both the marathon and half marathon events. The starting line corrals were well organized and the finish line was just as nice with plenty of post-race amenities: water, sports drinks, snacks, etc.
The huge pre-race Expo was held in the local auditorium and it’s almost overwhelming. I also enjoyed visiting a couple of very nice local running and triathlon stores in the nearby vicinity. Austin has a very impressive endurance sport community, to say the least.
So, my two faves (prehistoric era/modern era) are Houston-Tenneco and Austin-Motorola. Okay…your turn!