Chevron Houston Marathon celebrates 40 years

Dan Green won the very first Chevron Houston Marathon

November 10, 2011 5:22:24 PM PST
This year marks the 40th annual Houston Marathon. It is the day after the U.S. Olympic Marathon trials.


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Twenty-eight-thousand regular runners will take to the streets. We spoke with the man who won the very first Houston Marathon about the race then and now. On a cool December day in 1972, Dan Green won the first Houston Marathon.

"It's amazing," he said. "You know, it seems like it was just yesterday, 40 years ago."

It was Green's first marathon ever, and he ran it in 2 hours, 32 minutes and 33 seconds.

"I'm really blessed to have been able to do that," said Green.

But it wasn't his last.

"I've finished 13 of them," he said. "I've run in quite a few I didn't finish because it was never my design to train for the marathon."

In the 40 years since the first Houston marathon, a lot of things have changed, from how many people are running it to who is running it to how it's run.

"With the light rail, we were forced off of Main Street," said race director Brant Kotch.

Kotch has overseen a lot of course changes in his 10 years with the race. But back in 1972, the 116 runners saw a lot of the same scenery.

"It was a five-mile loop contained completely within Memorial Park where we stand," said Kotch.

The field, too, has changed.

"It really was a guy's club and probably of that hundred, maybe five were women," he said.

In 1972, just one woman finished. It took her more than 5 hours.

In the last Houston marathon, more than 2,500 women finished, and the winning woman crossed at 2 hours, 26 minutes 33 seconds, faster than Green's winning time that first marathon.

And as the marathon reaches a milestone anniversary, the field is bigger than ever -- 28,000 in the full and half marathons.

"Male or female, I think it's awesome that everyone is out running," said Green.

Everyone, including American Olympic marathon hopefuls.

"People are saying, 'What are you doing for your 40th anniversary?'" said Kotch. "I'm saying 'We're bringing the men and the women to Houston for the Olympic Trials Marathon."

Green won't be running the 40th Houston marathon. Injuries are keeping him on the sidelines.

"I haven't run in a while because of my foot," he said. "Otherwise, I'd give it a shot."

But he will be there, cheering.

Kotch says the 5K race was added to the event in the 1990s, and the half marathon event was added in 2002. Now, he says the half marathon is more popular than the full marathon.

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