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Runners Challenge Themselves in Marathons

A day after the US Olympic Marathon trials in Houston this past Saturday, several hundred people took part in other races based on the 42-kilometer Marathon that has been part of the modern Olympics since they began in 1896. There was a half marathon race and less strenuous events for disabled people and children. Many runners participated as a way of testing their own personal performance.

Most participants in the Chevron Houston Marathon came out early in the morning with no expectation of winning.

They were running either the full marathon or a half-marathon course for personal reasons.

This was the 29th full marathon for Craig Lippert, who came here from the northern US city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, partly to get away from the winter cold. “I wanted some warm weather. The last long run we did, it was six degrees (Farenheit, -14 Celcius), so Houston has warm weather, it was gorgeous out there today, and I loved the course," he said.

After completing their run, participants went inside the George Brown Convention Center where they could meet with family and friends and check their performance on computers that displayed completion times for each registered runner.

For 47-year-old Denia Puerto, it is all about keeping fit, even as she gets older. “The older you get, the more disciplined you are. So, I think you get better and better and, yeah, I think I can keep it up," she said.

25-year-old Kristi Beneae enjoys the support of family members as she seeks to develop her athletic potential. “I think setting a personal goal and trying to achieve that is what motivates me, and, also, I would eventually like to qualify for the Olympic trials, so that is kind of my goal down the road," she said.

Daniel Kysela and his wife Julia came here from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to participate and to watch the Olympic trial runs. They also had a chance to meet US Olympic Marathon team member Josh Cox. “Everybody out there really wants to get to that level, so it is great to get to talk to somebody like that, and they encourage you and give you advice on how to get closer to that level," said Kysela.

But most people don't take it quite that seriously.

For some runners, this can also be a social event.

Marisa, Tina and Sasha each had personal fitness goals when they started running on the streets of Pearland, Texas, but after they met, they began running together as friends.

“It started off personal and then it became camaraderie," said Marisa.

“Yes, the people you run with and the relationships you make are like no other," added Tina.

Over the past 30 years, there has been a huge increase in the number of Americans completing a marathon run, and the number of yearly events held around the country has increased from around 200 to more than 600.