With a reputation as one of the fastest and flattest courses in the nation, and the world, it seems impossible that the Chevron Houston Marathon could become any flatter. But after working on a new course map for about a year, Chevron Houston Marathon Race director Brant Kotch is saying that it is.
Mayor Annise Parker and the Houston Marathon Committee held a press conference at City Hall Tuesday to discuss changes in the course for the January 19, 2014 race and Parker said it's a “good news-good news situation.”
Changes to the route include wider streets, a flatter course, a joint start line for the marathon and half marathon and a new route out of downtown through the Washington Corridor rather than the Elysian Viaduct.
The route was planned to avoid construction and congestion yet still be good for the runners. The course will also run through newer parts of town and commercial areas.
The changes, described in a press release, include:
- A combined start line on Congress Avenue.
- Instead of leaving downtown via the Elysian Viaduct, runners will leave along the Washington Corridor.
- The first eight miles of both races will be run together and pass through neighborhoods including River Oaks and Upper Kirby before splitting near Rice University.
- The Aramco Houston Half Marathon will then head back north through Montrose and along the Buffalo Bayou before finishing downtown.
- The Chevron Houston Marathon will continue on to Rice Boulevard and West University before heading back to the previous course at Post Oak Boulevard. Memorial is then utilized instead of Woodway to add distance and visual appeal to the course. From there, the prior course is maintained through to the finish line downtown.
The changes were prompted by the impending demolition of the Elysian Viaduct just north of downtown and other construction projects.
Participation and spectatorship should go up because of the new route, Kotch said.
With the recent bombing at the Boston Marathon a lot of questions were raised at the press conference about security. “We plan for potential unfortunate events every year,” Parker said.
As the largest sporting event in Houston, the marathon is predicted to attract 250,000 spectators. Lottery registration for the Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon will be open until June 20, with the selected runners announced on June 24.
A map of the new course is available here.