It’s a New Year and there is a lot going on in sports in and around the Houston area.
In the National Football League, the Houston Texans are getting ready for their big playoff game after their 19-13 win at home last weekend. They now go to New England and play the Patriots and the cold. The last time the Texans were there they suffered a devastating loss at 14-42. This time though, coach Gary Kubiak stated that New England may have been on this level for a long time but the Texans earned the right to be here. This time, Houston hopes for better success. Their matchup will be on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Other playoff games include: Baltimore vs. Denver on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.; Green Bay vs. San Francisco at 7 p.m.; and Seattle vs. Atlanta at noon.
Well, there is plenty going on over the weekend as the 40th running of the Chevron Houston Marathon takes place this Sunday. The race starts downtown and runs through the Heights, the Montrose, Rice University, Uptown, and back down Allen Parkway to the George R. Brown for the finish. It is one of the few races in Houston that is free, and it is the biggest sporting event in Houston all year. Over 13,000 participants will run the marathon this year as they now have a cap on entrance. 12,000 will run the half marathon which starts separately but merges after mile 2. The weather will be a factor on Sunday as the forecast calls for rain and cold. The cold weather is great for running , but the rain will make it hard on the runners. To check out a map of the course, click here. The city raises millions of dollars for charities in and around Houston from this race.
This year is going to be very competitive amongst male and female runners as Ethiopian runner Alemitu Abera comes to Houston with a record personal best of 22:6.33. She looks to improve on her third place Houston Marathon time. Benita Willis aims to be the first Australian to win the Houston Marathon with a personal record of 23:6.22. The 32-year-old has a great chance of winning this year but how she competes with the Ethiopians is going to be a challenge for her as they usually run as a team. On the men’s side, 28-year-old Canadian Simon Bairu will try to break the African dominance in the marathon. This will be his first marathon as he tries to qualify for the Canadian National Team. He is the Canadian record holder in the 10,000m with a 27:23.63 and has run a half marathon with a time of 1:02.08. How he is able to handle the last leg of the race is going to be the test for him though. If he is able to run his own race and not that of the other runners he has a chance. He will have to deal with Demessew Tsega, 23, and Debebe Tolossa, 31 who have both run sub-2:10 marathons. This adds to an already very exciting race even if you don’t like running. Lastly, check out the 2013 Ironman Sports Medicine Institute at Memorial Hermann EXPO that will be held Friday and Saturday at the George R. Brown Convention Center. It’s free and open to the public.
In soccer news, at the end of the month, the U.S. National Men’s team will play an international-friendly game in Houston at the BBVA Compass Stadium against Canada on Tuesday, January 29. After a 8-1 defeat at the hands of Honduras in a World Cup qualifying match, the Canadian National men’s team look to reconfigure their whole national program. They have no permanent national coach but the Canadian Soccer Association(CSA) is ready to regroup and fast. They play Denmark in Arizona on January 26 before playing the U.S. the following Tuesday night. They then go to Qatar and play Japan in March. It is clear the CSA are trying to get there younger players more focused and used to international play.
For the American team, they are in the heat of a World Cup qualifying match that will begin in February. The U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said that this camp is all about preparation as they head for an important World Cup qualifier in Honduras on Febuary 6. Houston Dynamos goalkeeper Tally Hall, forward Will Bruin, and midfielder Brad Davis were added to the U.S. National Team training camp. Hall and Bruin join the U.S. men’s team for the first time.”I am grateful to have this opportunity and I am going to make he most of it,” Davis said about making the team.
In Houston Dynamo news, they have re-signed forward Cam Weaver and look forward to a 2013 season where they will have a better home schedule. The Dynamo spent a great deal of the beginning of last year on the road as the new stadium was being prepared. This year, with the stadium ready, the team will not have travel as often and start their 2013 campaign at home with a rematch of the 2012 eastern Conference matchup against DC United on March 2 at 7 p.m.
And to round off this week’s sports brief, we hope to see the NHL begin training camp by the end of the weekend. We are all eagerly waiting for the players to ratify the new agreement with the owners.