This weekend was finally THE weekend. For months now B has been training for the Chevron Houston Marathon and it finally arrived. The Houston Marathon is one of the top USA marathons and a qualifier for Boston. It’s a pretty big deal, and Houston being the wonderful city it is, makes a big deal about it. Houstonians from all over the city come out to celebrate the 27K runners from around the country and world. I say all around the city because it’s just that. It’s a race that starts at downtown, flies past Rice, over to The Galleria, takes the curve around Chimney Rock, through Memorial Park, and right back into downtown on Allen Parkway. That’s a lot of city to cover, and if you’re there to watch a particular runner or group of runners it can be a little overwhelming on how you’ll get around town. That’s why I’ll take you through the best ways to watch the Houston Marathon, now that I’ve done it myself.
STARTING LINE : ALL RUNNERS
Mornings are not my friend ya’ll. You’ll start your morning off at The George R. Brown convention center located in downtown Houston. If you want to see the start of the race walk out to the corrals with your runner/s down Preston. After your runner has headed off to their corral, keep walking down Preston until you come across Main Street. Walk up Main to Congress and you’ll see the gates to where the race starts. I stood between Batanga resturant & Pastry War which was perfect for seeing the race. Prior to this, decide what side of the road you’ll be on so the runner can find you. Example being, “At the start find me on your left, but the rest of the race I’ll be on your right.”
FIRST STOP : 4+ HOUR RUNNERS
Where you go next will come down to how fast your runner is. Two options, you can drive yourself, or take a taxi to your locations. Keep an open mind that event days bring up charges and road closures will make getting around more pricey as well.
You can hit three stops if your runner’s time is 4+ hours. I would recommend stopping at where the half splits from the full marathon at Bissonnet and Dunlay. It’s a very cool to see the break off! For use we were with a girl whose runner was an Elite (ran it under 3 hours). For us two stops would be our maximum including parking, and walking to the run line. We skipped this option.
FIRST STOP : UNDER 4 HOURS
SECOND STOP : 4+ HOURS
For us we went straight to The Galleria. We stood at the Starbucks at Post Oak and Westheimer. We parked at Dillard’s at the Galleria, and found a good spot on the sidewalk. This is around the halfway point for your runner which makes for a nice boost of energy for them. We were here for a total of 40 minutes and saw all three of our husbands. Great parking, bathrooms, coffee, and a Hoopla was here for tons of support. This makes for a perfect stop and photos!
SECOND STOP: UNDER 4 HOURS
THIRD STOP: 4+ HOURS
For our second stop we stopped at Montrose and Allen Parkway. I’m very iffy about this spot. This is a hard part of the course because the runners have already hit up hill changes, the 20 mile wall has hit, all while being only a little over 2 miles out from the finish. My husband personally loved this stop for all of those reasons. Seeing me helped boost his energy to finish strong when the race pains had started. However I barely missed him crossing the finish line because I ran into foot traffic at the end. With that said my husband 100% says he wants to see me there again next year, because that’s when he needs the support the most.
My tip would be to go back to the finish line after The Galleria and park. Grab a cab and hail it to Montrose & Allen Parkway. Using the Marathon tracker have a cab ready to pick you up a few minutes after your runner should pass, to take you to the finish line so you don’t have to worry about parking.
If you don’t want to miss the finish. I would recommend stopping at Memorial Drive and Westcott. This gives you more time to get to the finish after your runner passes! It’s much more doable. Time and time again I’ve heard this is when a runner needs the support the most. Allen Parkway is the challenge of the marathon. I’ll never forget seeing B show up on Allen Parkway, he had gotten a second win and was trucking it down the road. It was an amazing moment, and him getting to see me, made it even better!
Even though I didn’t see B cross the finish line I saw him about 800 yards out from it. The finish line this year was set up a little difficult for anyone wanting to see your runner cross it face on. The best you could do was to hang out the last 200 yards of the race on Lamar & Crawford right by Discovery Green.
If you’ve driven yourself, plan this part out VERY WELL. Pick a parking lot, and then pick a back up. Have cash on hand, and know exactly how many streets you need to get to the race line. Parking will be anywhere from $10-$40 depending on how close to the race you are.
While racing around the city to see your runner is fun, it can be very hectic. Many spectators choose to go to one spot only. Doing it this way allows you to bring chairs, music, and cheer on many of the other runners. You’ll find tons of Houstonians doing this.
Houston has a free bike service called BCycle. While this isn’t as fast as car, this is a great way to get around to check points closer to the start and finish. BCycle allows you 60 free minutes and is $2 for every half hour after that. Unless you re-dock it then your clock starts over and your next 60 minutes is free again.
If you’re at home the Chevron Marathon can be watched online and coverage is run on ESPN3.
Lastly have fun! Make friends who have runners in it, cheer on people you don’t know, and celebrate this wonderful accomplishment your runner has tackled.
I hope this helps you find your runner for the Houston Marathon next year. Being a spectator is such a fun element and Houston loves cheering on those who’ve worked hard to run the Chevron.
Tell me what races you’ve run down below? I’d love to hear from you!