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Same Course, Different Reason for Running

Sunday’s Chevron Houston Marathon is the largest annual single day sports event here, with a record field of more than 26-thousand participants. An elite field of professional runners will be way ahead of the majority. But for many, the reason for taking on the course will come from the heart. Pat Hernandez profiles some of them.


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Non-runners might scratch their heads and wonder why they’re subjecting their bodies to the pain. But pain is a relative term for first time marathoners like Nicholas Bigney.

“I had a daughter that died of cancer and as part of my grief, I ended up over eating a lot. It was just a way I coped with stress. Once I’d lost a little bit of weight, I realized that I found as I got out a longer run, it was like a moment of Zen if you will, where I’d come back from those so refreshed, that it was something I wanted to hold on to and keep a hold of.”

PH : “What do you consider a victory, completion, of what?”

Bigney : “I’ve got some specific time goals, I’d like to go underneath four hours and, everyone’s telling me I can. So, I’d like to get that as a secondary, sort of personal goal, but finishing is really the biggest goal, I think.”

Sarah Ward and son Nicholas will also be running their first marathon. Her brother Hunter is their motivation.

“He passed away from an accidental drug overdose. That’s very difficult for a family to endure. You’re left with so many questions, and so I wanted to take that and do something, to make something positive come out of this and it came to me. I can’t tell you what day it was or, even how it happened, but just run a marathon!”

The marathon’s Run for a Reason Program allows participants to pick a particular charity for which to run. For Sarah it was the Palmer Drug Abuse Program.

“I definitely am in support of Palmer Drug Abuse program and what they’re doing for our community, and I applaud that and I respect that.”

PH: “The ultimate goal, I guess to first time marathoners, would be to finish, right?”

Ward : “Absolutely.  You know, initially going into this I would say to Zachary, I just want to finish.'”

Zachary Ward : “I actually do agree with her. I think that getting through the marathon in the first place would be great, because it is such a long distance.”

It will be Aaron Benzel’s third marathon. You might say his reason weighs heavy.

“I got rid of slightly more than 50-percent of myself so, that’s been an exciting and difficult journey.”

PH: “Was the motivation like, death defying Aaron, in that if I don’t make a drastic change, I’m not gonna be here?”

Benzel: “Yes, it was and I recognize that my health was very bad.”

PH: “So, the motivation this weekend is going to be what?”

Benzel: “Well, I guess like it is for every marathon. I want to do this to prove it to myself that I want that I can continue to do it.”

The course takes runners through scenic neighborhoods, shopping areas, parks, past Rice University to  the Brown Convention Center downtown. Weather conditions should be ideal. For more information, visit the Chevron Houston Marathon website.

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