Interview Focus on a race

Interview : HEB Alamo Half Marathon

05 Jan 2017 09:59
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Credit : Bert Richardson / HEB Alamo Half Marathon

Hello, on April 2nd 2017, you’ll be organizing the HEB Alamo Half Marathon. Can you tell us where it is located?

The HEB Alamo Half Marathon takes place in the heart of downtown San Antonio, Texas with the race Start taking place from the beautiful North Plaza of one of the City’s largest architectural features, the Alamodome.

How old is the race and why was it created in the first place?

The 2017 HEB Alamo Half Marathon will be celebrating the 5th Anniversary of the event. With all of its historic features, including the Alamo, San Antonio is the top destination in Texas for visitors to the state and yet it is the only one of the five largest cities in Texas without its own major, ‘home grown’ running event. The Alamo Half marathon and Alamo Run Fest was created to finally provide the City with a large, major running event that was a one-of-a-kind event, unique-to-San Antonio event, with the kind of character, energy, and passion that only come with being ‘home grown’ and not just another ‘stop’ of a national series of events. Those of us who put this event on live here in Texas! And because the military is a major element that comprises the ‘fabric’ of San Antonio, a number of features were built into the event to help recognize the military including separate military sub-division awards in each of the events as well as military teams in the Alamo Half marathon event , along with a significant discount for active U.S. military members. Another goal of the event was to create an event that would help raise significant funds for the various charities it supports each year which, as it continues to grow in size, would become a significant figure.


What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?

The route is definitely a one-of-a-kind course, especially for the Alamo Half marathon. Beginning from the front of the Alamodome the route passes a number of iconic and historical landmarks in downtown San Antonio before passing onto and through historic Fort Sam Houston, one of the best historically preserved bases in the United States. The six miles of the Alamo Half that are ‘on post’ are truly unique and beautiful and include numerous historical landmarks dating back into the late 1800’s. The Finish Line ‘experience’ is also unique in that the event finishes INSIDE the Alamodome! Passing into and through the entry tunnel onto the floor of the Alamodome is an exceptionally motivating experience as runners run their ‘victory lap toward the Finish Line at center floor, to the cheers of the spectators, with live music from the main stage and the big video walls lit up with the ’live’ images of runners finishing. It is one of the few events in the world that can actually ‘guarantee great weather at the Finish Line’! The event has large numbers of passionate and energized volunteers throughout the event to support runners as well as plentiful water and aid stations, with 10 well-staffed water stations along the 13.1 mile half marathon route.

Credit : Bert Richardson / HEB Alamo Half Marathon

What are the distances on the agenda?

The ‘flagship’ event is the H-E-B Alamo Half marathon (a USATF certified, 13.1 miles), as this is the event with the distance to pass onto and through Fort Sam Houston before heading back to the Alamodome for the finish. Yet the Alamo Half is just one of a number of events that comprise the HEB Alamo Run Fest on Sunday, April 2, 2017. There is also the Alamo 10,000, Alamo 5K (both the 10K and 5K are also ‘certified’) and the H-E-Buddy Kids Classic (on Saturday 4/1/17). All events have separate start times and all events finish inside the Alamodome. There is also a big Health & Fitness Expo that takes place with the events inside the Alamodome, adjacent to the Finish Line on both Saturday and Sunday (4/1 & 4/2/17).

How many runners do you expect on Sunday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract?

Based on the current trend of pre-event registrations, we are expecting between 6,000 to 7,000 participants for the 2017 events. The make-up of runners covers the spectrum from some elite-type runners (even though we don’t have prize money) to very competitive age group runners to a large number of recreational runners and walkers. The event has also been designed to support wheelchair and ‘adaptive’ runners and currently has the largest number of wheelchair participants of any running event in Texas. Many of the wheelchair and adaptive participants are wounded warriors.

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

Springtime in Texas, especially in April, is typically some of the very nicest weather of the year in South Central Texas. Average low temperature (in fahrenheit) for San Antonio on April 2nd from 2006 to 2016 has been 61.4 degrees F. The low temperature for the day typically occurs very close to the starting time for the events in the morning. Average high temp (for the same 12 year period) on April 2nd has been 82.4 degrees F, which would typically occur about 3 or more hours after the last finishers. Average monthly rainfall in April is 2.1 inches so the likelihood of rain is on the low side.

Credit : Bert Richardson / HEB Alamo Half Marathon

Have you planned festivities around the event?

The event has a large Health & Fitness Expo that takes place on Saturday and Sunday of event weekend, directly adjacent to the Finish Line in the Alamodome. During the Expo on Saturday there is a full program of special activities (speakers, music, etc.) that take place from the main stage. On Sunday, during the main events and post-race, there is live music from the main stage both before and after the Awards program that also takes place from the main stage.

For runners who have never been to San Antonio, would you recommend any activities, visits or experiences in general that would help them discover the city before or after the race?

Runners who have never been to San Antonio (or even have been) definitely need to try and plan extra time to enjoy some of the sights and experiences the City is world renowned for including a visit to the historic Alamo and the Missions (recently named as a World Heritage site) as well as the beautiful and unique, San Antonio ‘River Walk’ right in downtown! Both the Alamo and River Walk are within walking distance of most downtown hotels, including those listed on our race’s website offering special discounts (which are also very close to the event’s Starting Line!).

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the HEB Alamo Half Marathon?

The combination running a downtown course that finishes INSIDE a domed stadium (the Alamodome) along with passing onto and through historic Fort Sam Houston make the HEB Alamo Half Marathon a truly unique, one-of-a-kind running event you’ll not experience anywhere else in the world.

Credit : Bert Richardson / HEB Alamo Half Marathon

Interview with Carl Owens, Director of the HEB Alamo Half Marathon Carl produced and directed his first event (what became a major triathlon in Texas for 10 years) in the Fall of 1986, after being personally inspired to give something back to the sport after finishing the 1985 Hawaii Ironman. His goal was to produce a quality event that was characterized by the passion and energy that the many volunteers who supported the event would ‘pour’ into the experience for the participants (“similar to the Hawaii Ironman back in those early days of that event). When approached back in the Spring of 2011 about creating this event, by Rick Margiotta (now his partner), their goal was to create a new running event with a special ‘character’ that would be unique and help ‘make a difference’ in improving health and wellness in San Antonio. So they created Make a Difference Events and the Alamo Half and Alamo Run Fest, to work toward that end. Now over five years into it, the seeds of these efforts are becoming apparent as they have a unique event that more and more runners are becoming aware of and getting to experience as the word about it spreads… and now on its way to becoming one of the best and biggest in Texas in the coming years.