Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step right up and be a part of a marathon made for all. This year will be the second annual Mid Main Micro Marathon, taking place Sunday September 8 at high noon. The marathon involves a jaunt around an impressive 0.26 miles on the 3700 block of Main with plenty of silly stops along the way.
The idea for this marathon came to Donna and John “Goodtime” Smith after a relative in Illinois told them about a short marathon they had been involved in which featured a coffee stop and could be completed in flip flops. “We saw coffee break and thought it was hilarious, we have to do that. So we brought the idea here but we did so much more than just a coffee break.” says Donna.
Last year featured a stretch of hopscotch, limbo, a fried pickle station, a coffee break and a slow motion finish ending the race at the Continental Club with a free Oasis beer or soft drink. Participants were treated to music from the Allen Oldies Band, a commemorative T-shirt and the coveted, .26 sticker. Highlights from last year can be seen in this video created by Jason Yu.
The couple organized last year's marathon and involved local businesses on the block. “We really thought it'll be funny and if anything we will get 20 people on the block and they will have a gas.” says Donna. “Knowing that “they” are the regular people and if those are the only 20 it’s okay.” adds John.
They were in for a big surprise when after a feature on the local news, tickets sold out and more than 150 participants came out for the big race. The Smith’s were shocked to see the large turn out, including families and pets, and how participants really committed to their roles. John recounts multiple slow motion theatrics at the end of the race with people acting out dramatic falls, carrying their friends over the finish line and crawling to the end.
“We were really fortunate in that everybody that came completely embraced the ridiculous spirit of it and got into the fun. It’s goofy and funny and a great mix.” says Donna. “It’s just utterly ridiculous. Everybody looked so funny and everybody just had smiles on their faces.” she adds.
They expect this year to be bigger and better, but not longer. “We have to do it around the block because everything down here just flows. It’s really organic and quirky and homegrown and you’re not going to find this culture of Houston anywhere else.” says Donna. This year the area is home to new businesses that will be part of the event and the idea is to make people aware of all that the Mid Main has to offer.
For anyone unfamiliar with this particular block of Houston, it is unlike any other. Business owners and developers have successfully maintained old buildings and unique local businesses. While mixed-use high rise apartment building have recently popped up, they have not cheapened the soul of Mid Main in any way but rather given it an updated look and new breath of life.
“It’s a completely different landscape then when we first got here in 2010. We used to call it “The Island” and now people refer to it as Mid Main. This is a block where when we first opened up, you would not see a mom pushing a stroller but now you see families all the time. It’s such a beautiful melting pot of the city that we have right here and this is the perfect event to bring it all together in this weird and funny way.” says Donna.
“We want people that came last year to know there will be plenty of surprises; it’s not just going to be the same thing, the same spirit obviously, but we are changing it up so if they did come last year it will be different.” says Donna. This year they expect a larger crowd and will be closing off the surrounding streets to ensure safety to their runners.
The event will once again benefit Barrio Dogs, a local organization who has served Houston’s Greater East End since 2010, helping to educate residents on the importance of spaying and neutering your pets and providing free services for low income families. Pets are encouraged as well as costumes, teams, and children.
Tickets can be purchased online through Sig’s Lagoon and people can pick up their T-shirts and stickers at the First Thursday block party in September or on the day of the race. There will be a raffle and silent auction of items from local businesses on the block with proceeds benefiting Barrio Dogs.
Parking will be available in the garage so “runners” don’t need to stress about parking downtown. Sign in begins at noon with live music provided by Polish Pete & the Polka? I Hardly Know Her Band followed by the main event beginning at one o’clock. Runners can enjoy a free Oasis beer or soft drink while enjoying tunes by the Allen Oldies Band at the Continental Club when the race is over.
Local businesses will also be giving away free tickets on their social media pages so be sure to give businesses from the block a follow for your chance to win. For those worried about their stamina John assures them, “Its a long way its all the way around the block. We do warm ups and if you have injuries we’ve got that medical team on crack.”
Mid Main Micro Marathon will take place September 8 at the Continental Club, 3700 Main, registration opens at noon. For information, visit sigslagoon.com. $30 for adults and $15 for children under 10 years of age.
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Gladys Fuentes is a first generation Houstonian whose obsession with music began with being glued to KLDE oldies on the radio as a young girl. She is a freelance music writer for the Houston Press, contributing articles since early 2017.