How the run led us through to 2021
Muffy King, Director of Marketing, Media and Brand for the Chevron Houston Marathon Committee, chats with us about building community through running, shared experiences in the sport, and her hopes and dreams for racing in 2022.
Like many other race organisers across the world, the Chevron Houston Marathon Committee had to make the difficult decision to cancel regular racing at the Houston Marathon in 2021. The uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic created a need for innovative planning, and the committee delivered with a popular, 10-day virtual event. But as Muffy King will tell you, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of experiencing the Chevron Houston Marathon live and in person — the iconic event is on track to celebrate its 50th year the weekend of 14–16 January.
Muffy, who manages the marketing and communications for the Chevron Houston Marathon Committee, is excited for the race’s golden anniversary. Read below as she shares her running journey and how running helped us all through another difficult year.
What is your running story?
It’s a bit of a backwards one. I grew up swimming and played water polo at university. For me, running was punishment. After I graduated in 2008, I was no longer playing sports and I started running as a weight loss journey. I started to run triathlons, and slowly but surely I fell in love with it. I still swim and cycle, but I feel like there’s some truth to the runner’s high journey. There’s a place of peace there for everyone.
When I think about the holistic experience of running a marathon, the journey to get to that marathon is the hard part. Race day is your victory lap. Most of us will just remember that 10 seconds when you cross the finish line. But it’s worth the world.
What do you do as Marketing Director for the Chevron Houston Marathon?
I’ve been with this organisation for five years, and I think I have the best job of our staff. I essentially get to tell the stories of every one of our runners. It’s such a fun job. Anything you see from the start of the runner experience — a visual that peaked someone’s interest to register, all the way down to where the runner crosses the finish line and gets their photo taken. I have an amazing team supporting me and I love what I do.
Tell us about your typical/favourite run.
My typical and favourite run is I love to run the bayou. It’s essentially an infrastructural waterway that runs through the city. To most, it looks like a concrete dried-up river, but I think it’s one of the most beautiful places to run in Houston. There are wildflowers and wildlife, but it’s still in the city. It’s 150 miles of greenway. I’ve even rescued a turtle on one of my runs.
How did running help you through 2021?
I actually started walking during the pandemic because I had brain surgery in August 2020. I was not permitted to run for 8 weeks but walking on the bayou allowed me to still see part of my Houston friends’ running journeys while they were still out there tackling their running goals.
My virtual Houston in January 2021 was my slowest marathon to date at 5:57. My only goal was to finish in our six-hour time limit. This was my first Houston Marathon and my first marathon just five months after having brain surgery. The majority of my training consisted of walking. I would walk 3–4 miles a few times a week, listen to podcasts, and really take my time. That helped me in a couple of ways — physically of course. But that time was also an escape. Working in the industry, it helped me take a step back and think about my job and my community.
And when I did run, I felt connected with my community. The pandemic and my health challenged me professionally to find alternative ways to continue camaraderie in the Houston running community.
Why do you think running brought people together in this difficult year?
Running is a shared experience. At the surface level when you think of running it’s an innately singular sport. But the reality is there’s a whole community behind you. Supporting each other remotely, digitally, etc. Take Global Running Day for example — in June we implemented a “together from anywhere” event where we challenged runners in our community to run 200,000 miles collectively together. Runners could load their miles into a virtual platform, and we worked as a community to achieve a total mileage account.
Everyone has their individual goals, but we can’t get there alone. Whether it’s your group of friends that runs with you at 5 a.m. or a run club leader who messages reminders to everyone on Facebook, community is essential to individual success.
What are your hopes and dreams for the 2022 Chevron Houston Marathon?
It’s a milestone year for the Chevron Houston Marathon. You can expect lots of enthusiasm and some fun extras for our runners. We’re coming back from an interesting few years. We are excited to produce a race where all our runners can feel supported, encouraged and safe. And of course, maybe enjoy some parties and celebrations on the side.
Any pie-in-the-sky running goals for yourself?
I’d run our half marathon several times, both individually and as a guide for visually impaired runners. But I’ve never run the full Chevron Houston Marathon until last year. With 2022 being the 50th anniversary, I will run the course after my marketing duties for the race are complete. I plan to set after the race is finished to earn my medal around 8 or 9 at night.
What are your tips for runners in 2022?
First, trust yourself. If there’s something you want to do there, have no doubt that you will be able to accomplish it. Spend your effort and your time in working on achieving it. Second, lean into the support of your community. It’s your body and your time, but the support of others will get you there. Oh, and a practical tip for running the Chevron Houston Marathon: read all the signs on the course. This will help pass the time.
With 2021 wrapping up soon, it’s time to start thinking ahead and building toward reasons to celebrate in 2022. For more running tips, workouts, shoes and gear, inspiring running stories, and more, be sure to follow the Run Happy Blog.