Most outsiders would look at Houston and call it anything but a runner’s paradise. To start with, the continuous feed of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico from April to October allows the invasion of oppressive humidity, one of the runner’s greatest nemesis. Couple this with 5 months of average daily temperatures in the 90’s and you have one ugly running climate. Second, if you have ever been to Houston, you know that natural beauty and geography are not its strong suites. Sure, you can find an occasional semi-scenic view along a muddy bayou, but by and large Houston is a pancake flat concrete jungle. If you love natural scenery, Houston isn’t for you.
But, if you can get beyond these things, I will tell you that Houston is one of the greatest running cities in the United States. This is largely due to the fact that Houston has an incredibly vibrant and active running community. Need the evidence? Well Houston literally has hundreds of races within the city limits or a short drive. There is something for everyone, with 5ks to ultras, roads, trails or beaches. With all these races, Houstonians need places to train, and the city does not disappoint. Head to Memorial Park, Herman Park, Buffalo Bayou, Terry Hershey Park, and many more and you can witness thousands of runners hitting pavement or gravel at almost any time of day. The city is incredibly supportive of its runners and has poured millions of dollars into improving the parks system and adding more green spaces to give people more options. Lastly, the city pulls out all the stops for its signature event, The Chevron Houston Marathon. On race day, 250,000 people line the streets to cheer on over 20,000 runners. The environment mimics that of Boston, Chicago or New York with local TV coverage and strong elite athletes. Heck, Houston even hosted the Olympic Trials in 2012 – truly a world class event.
In the end, I consider Houston to be my running paradise for all the reasons above. I love running in this city. The heat and humidity build strength and endurance. Glass and steel in a way can be just as scenic as mountains and forests. While this city seems an odd fit for running, it succeeds despite its disadvantages, and that is what I like most. The topic of this blog will largely cover my stories of running in and around my city and my home – Houston, TX. Like most people, I like to leave from time to time and run somewhere else and those stories will be told as well. But in the end, I love to coast through the communities along the Gulf Coast, no matter how hot and humid or flat they may be. Happy reading!