Houston’s shortest and silliest marathon is back. The Mid Main Micro Marathon will be hosting its fourth race on Sunday, September 18. The family friendly event runs from noon to five and as usual, organizers have found many ways to fill the day with light hearted fun.
“At first it takes a little bit of explaining to everybody,” says organizer Donna Smith. “It’s hard to condense into a little nugget of information unless you've actually done it and been through the course.”
The Mid Main Micro Marathon is an event unlike others as it encourages people to just get together, have fun and celebrate in one of Houston’s few walkable and eclectic neighborhoods filled with bars, restaurants and locally owned shops.
What the marathon lacks in size it more than makes up for in fun. The course is a whopping 0.26 miles that begins at the backyard of The Continental Club and continues around the block with stops for snacks, coffee, St. Arnold’s beer, dance breaks and more. Participants will receive a runners number, a T-shirt, and the highly sought after .26 bumper sticker to show their athletic abilities off to the world.
At the finish line, athletes will be treated to a backyard performance from the Allen Oldies Band and Luba Dvorak’s Brooklyn Twang to keep the good times rolling once the run is over. The event is all ages and fun for kids, who often have made multiple laps around the block before the adults even make it to the first stop. Costumes and pets are also welcome.
“We try to build in some surprises and some fun. Every time around and make it a little bit different so that the people that have gone through it still wind up surprised by something,” says Smith.
This year's event will benefit the Animal Justice League, an organization that the Smith family became familiar with over the pandemic when they found two puppies huddled behind their garbage cans and decided to foster them to forever homes with assistance from the organization.
“When we decided to bring back the Micro Marathon, we thought this is just the perfect fit because we personally benefited from the kind of work that they do and have seen the great result in this great dog getting a great home. They are also excited to join us this year,” says Smith of the partnership.
During the first year of the pandemic, organizers sought to do a virtual run to raise money encouraging participants to upload videos of themselves and attend the event online. The challenges of getting people to be as enthusiastic as they are in real life and managing the technology involved caused the 2020 year to have a less than desirable turnout.
Last year, organizers felt that they could just sit one out and wait for the world of live events to be in a more stable place. Smith recalls the many people who have reached out sharing their fun memories and asking if the event will return.
"Runners" slow down for a limbo break during the long .26 run.
Photo by Jason Yu
“The interest seems to be there and people seem to be excited about it so let's give it another go. It just surprised me that it really sticks with people, everybody will have their memory of it,” says Smith.
Before starting their own fun run in 2018, Donna and her husband John had heard of an event like this in the Chicago area where they are from.
“They were just going around their little town square and stopped for coffee along the way and we saw that and thought, oh we can do better than that. The Mid Main block is just perfectly suited for that type of fun because of the personality of the block, the personality of the businesses and the people involved with it. Everybody was all on board so we just fleshed out this super silly course and everyone had a blast doing it.”
The first year organizers thought that if 20 people showed up, that would be 20 people having a good time but they were blown away when over 100 people showed up for their event. The following year that number almost doubled in size leading them to expect around 200 people for this year's run.
“Thankfully John and I work pretty well together. We are coming from a point where we've got some experience under your belt so we know what to expect a little, more than we did in the past. It's just silly and different enough that it seems to stick out for people. I'm glad that people want us to do it every year and want us to come back with it so that's always nice ”
The Mid Main Micro Marathon will take place on Sunday, September 18 beginning at The Continental Club, 3714 Main. Noon to 5 p.m. $17-35.
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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.