MARATHONERS MUST BEAT THE HEAT.
The message is clear for the marathon and halfmarathon participants, especially the non-elite runners. Slow down.
It is going to be unseasonably warm for Sunday’s 45th Chevron Houston Marathon, which starts and ends at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
“Slow down, slow down, slow down,” said Dr. John Cianca, medical director of the Houston Marathon Committee. “It’s going to be hot and humid, so run responsibly and adjust your pace to reduce the risk of overheating.”
Race officials are stressing that the 27,000 runners Sunday should not be attempting to set personal records. Rather enjoy the event for what it is.
“This is not the weekend for the PR, they need to enjoy the (crowds), enjoy downtown, go through the neighborhoods and look at the beautiful communities we have,” said Wade Morehead, executive director of the Houston Marathon Committee. “Just slow down and have a fun day on Sunday.
“The only way you can control your core temperature is by reducing the amount of energy you exert. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to increase your hydration, but you need to slow down. Maintain your same hydration plan and slow down a bit.”
The humidity is expected to be close to 90 percent, with a temperature in the mid-60s for Sunday’s 7 a.m. start.
Sunday’s race will begin under the yellow caution flag, indicating a moderate risk for participants and potentially dangerous conditions. A general rule among marathon runners is that temperature more than 65 degrees and you dip down a second or two per mile.
“You can’t let the weather mentally ruin your race because everyone has to race in it,” said Tim Young of Fredericksburg, Va., whose best time is 2:14:40 at Chicago in 2014. “A lot of people get nervous about the weather, but you can’t change it, so you just embrace it.
“It might mean a slower time, but you can still race and you can still run really well.”
There will be 5,200 firsttime runners in the Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon, and they will running in less than ideal conditions. The runners who put up slower times will be out on the course for a longer period and will get the warmer temperatures toward the end. At 10 a.m.
the humidity is expected to be about 80 percent but the temperature will be 68. By 11 a.m., the temperature is expected to climb into the lower 70s.
“You may not run the time you wanted to, but you’ll finish the race, you’ll have a great race regardless,” said Young, 29. “It’s more important to finish the race than try to get a PR and you won’t know what will happen. You may end up dropping out, you may end up walking more.
“Drink those fluids. If it means you have to slow down at those fluid tables to make sure you’re getting enough, I would recommended it.”
For Becky Wade, this will be her third consecutive marathon to start under the caution flag. Sunday’s race will be more moderate than her previous two marathons.
“It really turns into more of a race than a chase for a particular time,” said Wade, who comes into the marathon with the seventh-fastest time among women. “So it’s going to be a competition and we’re going to be less focused on sticking to a certain pace.
“We’re not going to be necessarily shooting for a big PR. If the weather al-
lows for it, that would be great, but if not, that’s fine too because so much of what’s fun about this event is, it’s dramatic, interesting and no one knows how they are going to hold up to the weather. So it will be an intense competition.”
Wade, who lives in Boulder, Colo., and was a star runner at Rice, said nonelite runners should treat Sunday’s marathon and half marathon as an enjoyable pursuit since heat will be a factor.
“Be extra conservative at the start, go a little slower than you think you should,” said Wade, 27. “And if you feel good for the last 10K, that’s when you
go for it. But in these conditions, I think being safe early on is the best thing to do.”
Kenyan Mary Wacera, the 2016 Aramco Houston Half Marathon champion and the top contender on Sunday, doesn’t believe Houston’s unseasonably warm weather will be a major factor for an elite runner like herself.
“I don’t think it will affect us that much because in Kenya right now, it’s a bit warm,” said Wacera, 28. “I’ve been training in warm conditions, so I think it will be good.”
Feyisa Lilesa, center, of Ethiopia and Mary Wacera, right, of Kenya are back to defend their titles a year after winning the Aramco Houston Half Marathon.