Add the Chevron Houston Marathon to the list of city-wide events that have had to change because of COVID-19. Organizers announced on Monday, October 5, that both the 2021 marathon and half marathon will move to a virtual format instead of its usual run through Houston's city streets.
"The decision to cancel the 2021 Chevron Houston Marathon is incredibly disappointing for everyone, but it is still the right course to follow because of the pandemic," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement. "I know thousands of people from all over the world have trained for this race all year, and they were looking forward to qualifying for other races or beating their personal bests. They can still do that virtually."
The 2021 marathon will be the 49th running of the event, which draws almost 20,000 participants and 250,000 spectators. From a starting point in front of the George R. Brown convention center, the course passes through several neighborhoods, including the Washington corridor, Montrose, River Oaks, the Galleria, and Memorial Park.
Runners who have already registered for the marathon have three options. First, they may participate in the virtual event, which will take place January 8-17, 2021. People may run the distance for either in segments or all at once, using a wearable device to track their time or simply self-reporting to the event. Those who choose this path will receive a box containing their bib and gifts from sponsors. After the race, they will receive the appropriate finisher medal and t-shirt.
Those who opt out of the virtual experience may transfer their registration to either the 2022 or 2023 events. Finally, runners may also donate their entry to the Houston Marathon Committee, a 501 (c)4 non-profit organization. No refunds will be issued, per a FAQ from the committee.
"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 the local Houston community will always be our top priority," Houston Marathon Committee executive director Wade Morehead said. "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.