The Chevron Houston Marathon has been around since before I was born. The inaugural year, 1972, boasted just 113 runners who repeated a 5-mile loop at Memorial Park. Memorial Park is situated on the grounds of Camp Logan, a WWI military training facility in what is now downtown Houston. The first female finisher in 1972 was a 14-year old; she crossed the finish line in 5:11:55.
In 1973, fewer than half of the 130 entrants actually finished the Houston Marathon, and the women’s record was broken with a 4:29:07 marathon time. It wasn’t until 1975 that a woman ran the race in less than four hours; the winning female that year finished in 3:31:24.
In 1976 the course was expanded to include areas next to Memorial Park, for a loop that only had to be repeated three times. It wasn’t until 1978 that more than 500 people entered (and completed) the race. In the 1980s, the leaderboards reflected more cultural diversity, with winners coming from Ethiopia, Norway, Great Britian, Sweden, Canada, South Africa, and Kenya.
The Kenyan runner Richard Kaitany set a course record in 1989, with a finish time of 2:10:04. Two Ethiopians set the last course records during the 2012 race, with finish times of 2:06:51 (men’s) and 2:23:14 (women’s). This year, Ethiopian runners claimed three of the four titles between the half and full marathons.