Contact: Catherine Rogan
Record-Setting Weekend on Tap for HP Houston Marathon
HOUSTON, Jan. 13, 2003 - A record-setting field of close to 12,000 runners
is expected to participate in the three events that comprise the 2003 HP
Houston Marathon weekend.
The flagship event - the 31st annual HP Houston Marathon - expects a field
of 6,000, including 1996 New Zealand Olympic marathoner Sean Wade of Houston
and defending women's champion Becky Sondag of Casper, Wyo.
More than 4,000 runners will register for the second-annual ep 13.1 miler,
making Houston's only half-marathon one of the fastest growing races in the
A field of 1,500 is anticipated for the weekend's third race, the 24 hour
fitness 4 miler.
All races are scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 19. The action begins at 7 a.m.,
with the marathon and half-marathon (wheelchair contestants in the two races
will start at 6:45 a.m.). The starting gun sounds at 7:35 a.m. for the 4
miler (7:30 a.m. for wheelchairs).
"The response from the running community to this year's event has been
outstanding," said first-year race director Brant Kotch. "The word is
spreading that the HP Houston Marathon experience - irrespective of which
race runners chose to participate in - means a fast course, supportive
volunteers and fans, and unique technology to track performances. We're
clearly on the verge of having our most successful year ever."
While the majority of runners competing in all three events are from the
greater Houston area, the marathon will draw participants from across the
U.S. as well as outside its borders. The return of prize money to HP Houston
Marathon also is helping to fuel additional interest in the race.
Wade, a veteran of four Houston Marathons, is expected to be among those
competing for the top marathon prize of $3,500. Another Houstonian, Gannon
White, has raced well during the Houston Marathon Warm-Up Series and also
could be a runner to watch. Jeff Chalmers, of Bay Village, Ohio, and
Mexico's Joel Ibarra are a pair of runners who could give the local elites
some company at the front of the pack.
Sondag ran 2:50:49 to win the 2002 HP Houston Marathon and returns to defend
her title against a strong women's field that includes 2002 San Antonio
Marathon champion Albina Gallyamova, of Las Cruces, N.M., Maureen Larsen
from Omaha, Neb. and local, Julie Mosier of Kingwood.
Among those in the ep 13.1 miler field will be several national-class elite
runners, including U.S. Olympic marathon hopefuls Todd Reeser and Scott
Strand. Beth Old, Machelle Cochran and defending ep 13.1 miler champion,
Chrisy Crotta, headline the field in the women's half.
The total prize purse for the marathon and half-marathon is $19,000, with
$1,000 going to the winner of the ep 13.1 miler.
"Preparations for this year's event have gone very well, thanks to our
dedicated core team of volunteers," said Kotch. "Now, we're keeping our
fingers crossed for good weather conditions, which, at this point, look
runner-friendly for the weekend."
Long-range forecasts call for a morning low near 30 degrees, warming to the
50s by mid-day, with virtually no chance of rain.
While the heart of the action on HP Houston Marathon weekend takes place on
Sunday, festivities begin Friday, Jan. 17 with the Koala Health & Fitness
Expo - the nation's third-largest fitness exposition. The Expo runs from
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, in Hall D of
the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Also on Saturday, more than 6,000 Houston-area elementary and middle-school
students will participate in the annual Texas Children's Hospital Kids Fun
Run, pushing total weekend participation to an anticipated 18,000 - an event
The HP Houston Marathon, a Running USA founding member, is the nation's
premier winter marathon, annually attracting participants from all 50 U.S.
states and several foreign countries. In 2002, nearly 15,000 runners took
part in four marathon weekend events (marathon, half-marathon, four-mile run
and children's run). The HP Houston Marathon offers the only closed
marathon course in Texas and is ranked among the top five in the nation by
the Ultimate Guide to Marathons for fastest course, organization and crowd
support. More than 5,000 volunteers organize the race, which is Houston's
largest single-day sporting event.
Further information is available at www.hphoustonmarathon.com or by calling