There won't be the usual mass of racers on course intent on PBs or just finishing. Spectators and volunteers with their placards and water bottles won't have to face the sometimes bitter cold weather of Houston in January. All onlookers can now participate from the laid back comfort of their Barcaloungers.
In another sign of how the phrase "2020 Sucks" is fully capable of spilling over into the next year, the Houston Marathon Committee has announced that the 49th annual Chevron Houston Marathon and 20th annual Aramco Houston Half Marathon will move to virtual status for 2021 because of the continuing pandemic.
In a press release announcing the not totally unexpected news, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner was quoted as saying:
"The decision to cancel the 2021 Chevron Houston Marathon is incredibly disappointing for everyone, but it is the right course to follow because of the pandemic. I know thousands of people from all over the world have trained for this race all year, and they were looking forward to qualifying for other races or beating their personal bests. They can still do that virtually. While the experience may not be the same, know that Houston will be cheering for the participants' every mile. We are a resilient city, and we are proud of the Houston Marathon."
The Houston Marathon Committee has been working for months to try to find a way to still stage the event now in its 49th year for the marathon and the 20th year for the half-marathon, the release said. But they just couldn't figure out a way to make it happen.
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Instead, as the mayor said, they are encouraging racers to compete on a virtual basis, saying:
"The 2021 virtual event experience will take place over the span of ten days, where runners will have the option to complete their race distance anywhere and anytime between Jan. 8 – 17, 2021. All virtual participants will receive a participant box pre-race filled with sponsor gifts and messages to help them cross the finish line. Finisher items will be mailed post-race within two weeks of Jan. 17, to participants who submit their completed race distance timing information via their participant account."
Runners who are already registered for the 2021 marathon have an assortment of choices. They can go virtual
They can defer their entry until 2022 or 2023. Or they can donate their entry to the 501 c(4) non-profit organization, the Houston Marathon Committee. Emailed instructions will be sent their way.
For those still wanting to sign up, visit the marathon website and register for the virtual race.