A lot has changed since the final person loped across the finish line for the Houston Marathon last year. Namely, a couple of bastards decided to bomb the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring scores of people. The bombing also altered how marathons across the country are now handled, and the Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Half Marathon is no exception..
In this post-Boston world, the 2014 Houston marathon will have a few changes in how things are done. If you're running in the marathon or half marathon, or coming down to to the course to cheer on those who are, here's a head's up on a few things to know.
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5. Bring your photo ID to pick up your running packet. Whether it's your very first fancy race or you've run Houston every year for the past 20 years, the day you pick up your packet is always a giddy experience. You have to wade through all the other excited packet-pick-up people to get to your line and before that you have to go through the phenomenal pain-in-the-posterior process of parking downtown. Well you also have to have your ID and a print-out of your final confirmation email to pick up your packet, and if you've offered to grab a friend's packet while you're there, you'll have to hand in a signed copy of their final confirmation and a printed copy of their current, government-issued ID. So be sure and have that, because getting your packet is exciting the first time, but having to leave, go home, get your license and perform a minor miracle in finding some place to park a second time is guaranteed to ruin the pre-marathon buzz. Don't be your own buzz-kill.
4. There will be security checkpoints and they will search whatever they darn well please. Access to the marathon and half-marathon routes is now, understandably, pretty tightly controlled. Those who want to watch the runners will have to pass through checkpoints to get to the course. The checkpoints will be located at Lamar Street and Crawford Street, Lamar Street and Avenida de las Americas, McKinney Street and Crawford Street and Walker and Avenida de las Americas. Security guards will have the right to search anyone or anything that raises any kind of alarm bells, so try and strategize over this the way you work out what you can and can't bring to an airport these days. Figure out what security will likely frown on you having anywhere near the race course and don't bring it. 3. Don't bring a bag. Runners will get clear plastic bags to bring anything with them that will need to be put in storage during the race. Don't try and put a bag inside your clear plastic bag because that will not fly this year. For those coming down to watch the race, just do yourself a favor and skip the whole bag thing in general. They aren't technically not allowed but bags that aren't for checking your gear are extremely discouraged. Security can search any and all bags, and it would be so much quicker to get where we're all going if you just leave the bag at home.
2. You can watch the finish line from the bleachers at Discovery Green and the corner of Lamar and Avenida de las Americas. And that's it. The other side won't be open, so don't try to go there and you won't be allowed to stop and linger on the bridges going over the race course, so don't bother trying.
1. Use some sense. According to the race website, all items will be deemed appropriate or inappropriate based solely on the judgment of the security guard who is checking it out. Realize this and know going in that this leaves parameters wide open as to what will be considered hazardous. Take the knives off your key chain. Don't make a stupid joke about having a bomb with you. Just don't. And tell that one relative that always likes to do things like that not to do it either. If you're a runner, the same goes for you. Don't be that guy. Boston was horrid and the odds are good the guy making jokes about it will get punched in the face if he doesn't get arrested.