When runners in these parts hear the same words, the Methodist Health Care Houston Marathon of 1997 is still frozen in their mind.
Sort of. Maybe more like slush, which is what runners encountered in downtown parking lots race morning.
“Cold enough for ice on the overpasses and warm enough for it to rain and sleet and not snow,” said Volte founder Bill Dwyer. “Snow would have been better. I have never been so cold and wet at the same time.”
And while many who ran this year’s Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Half Marathon thought is was pretty rough, Dwyer believes 1997 was definitely worse.
“Harder rain, but not as cold,” Dwyer said. “I was on the course supporting people for six hours last year so I can make a good comparison. It was still tough, tough conditions last year.”
Runners earlier this month faced some of the same issues with a line of treacherous weather – for Texas – that forced race officials in Dallas to cancel this year’s MetroPCS Dallas Marathon a day before what would have been its 44th running.
If 1997 had happened three weeks ago, Dwyer believes that Houston’s running version of the “Ice Bowl” might never have been experienced.
Lots of runners from The Woodlands were affected, including three Volte athletes – Jerritt Park, Carrie Hyde and Kelly Green (even though Hyde was nursing an injury and was unlikely to have run anyways.)
But for Green, the 39-year-old mother of two, it was to be her first marathon ever.
However, even before the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon announced its official cancellation, B-CS Marathon and Half Marathon race director Chris Field allowed runners – early Friday afternoon, December 6 -- to defer their entry if they were traveling through areas of inclement weather to get to College Station.
Additional entries in the amount of the number of deferrals went on sale at 3 p.m. and Green’s marathon dream was alive once again.
She would join fellow Volte athletes Michell Bradie, Mike Csikos, Randy Harris, Brian Jackson, Kate Looney, Debra Myers, Todd Snider, Jon Walk and Tabitha Young.
Young was participating in a four-person Corporate relay team, Jackson and Walk were also running the marathon while the rest would challenge the half marathon.
Unbeknownest to her, “Operation Support Kelly Green” began to take shape Saturday evening.
Mary Carter, Gabby Brockett, who did many long runs with Kelly in training, Dwyer and her coach Juliee Sparks car-pooled to College Station on Sunday morning arriving 30 minutes after the start to avoid detection by Green.
Already on the course following Green were her husband and Kelly McMahon. They would later be joined by Todd Snider as well as Young and her husband.
Young drew the shortest distance straw of the day – 6.5 miles – but she and her four-person “Peanut Butter and Jelly Legs” Corporate Relay Team put the business on their opponents with a first-place time of 4:40:02.
“(I’m) so proud of my relay team girls that ran their longest runs to date and we rocked it,” she said.
So did Randy Harris in the half marathon.
Fresh off of being named the Region 6 Assistant Principal of the Year by the Education Service Center, Harris, the 50-year-old Magnolia High School assistant principal, also grabbed a first-place 50-54 age group award with the top Volte showing of the day with a time of 1:32:17.
A pair of former Aggies, Mike Csikos and Kate Looney, were on Harris’ heels like Reveille – as they all would finish in the top 50 of the half marathon.
|Must be something special about Aggies (Mike Csikos and Kate Looney) running in Aggieland to be able to go that fast with smiles to match.|
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
“Mike and I ran together the entire time and got to check splits and reminisce about our time at A&M as we ran through campus,” she said. “I told him as we finished that BCS was one of the most enjoyable runs I've done in a long time.”
Mike said it sets him up well for Houston next month.
“The race was a nice confidence builder as we prepare for Houston,” he added. “I was 17 seconds slower than my half PR today.
“I honestly didn't think about PR's while racing, but staying on pace was the primary focus. “
Doing so allowed Csikos, he said, to post sub-seven minute miles in the last two miles without “feeling stressed”.
Despite getting pinched from crossing the start line by almost four minutes, Snider, 43, made it under the two-hour standard with plenty of room to spare as he posted a finishing time of 1:55:14.
Bradie, 50, and Myers, 45, rounded out the Volte half marathon finishers with times of 2:12:55 and 2:16:59, respectively. The latter was a 17-minute PR for Myers.
The only casualty of the day came shortly after Myers’ finish.
Aiming to complete his 52nd career marathon, Walk, 46, started experiencing some hip and lower back pain during miles 12 and 13 after going 2:22:24 to that point.
Faced with a run/walk much of the back half, and already soaked despite four layers, he dropped to avoid dealing with hypothermia issues that he had experienced at marathons in New Jersey in April and North Carolina in November.
Not to be slowed down, though, was Brian Jackson.
The 34-year-old lowered the boom on his time of 3:16:41 in the 2012 The Woodlands Marathon with a 22nd overall performance of 3:03:18 – and a Boston Qualifier.
And with support on the back half of the course from Brockett (who actually entered the half to run the course with a bib), Green got her debut marathon completed – much like Carter had the year before – with a finishing time of 6:12:29.
Carter, Brockett, McMahon and Young all helped run Green through last few yards across the finish line.
|The magic moment of a first marathon finish by Kelly Green.|
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)
“I have never felt more support and love than at this very moment,” exclaimed Green after the finish. “These women have played a huge part in me crossing that finish line.
“I achieved a goal that I never thought was possible.”
She was quick to point out, though, the belief that her coach, Juliee Sparks, had in her.
“She made me believe in myself and my abilities,” she rejoiced. “She even called me speedy.”
But it was Looney who circled back on all of what the day represented.
“A great race with inspiring friends to share the day with,” she said. “It was also great to celebrate with friends running their first half and full marathons there too.”
And she said that she’ll lead the group back to Aggieland.
“BCS was, hands-down, one of the best races I've done yet,” she said. “I was quite impressed by the race directors and their heart for us runners and the nice course through A&M. I am absolutely adding this to my list of must-run races next year.”