At 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), the Bayou City Classic isn't long enough to wind through Houston like a New York or Boston Marathon does. That's not to say the course isn't scenic. And because it's relatively flat, it's fast.
Everyone starts at the intersection of McKinney Street and Louisiana Street with wheelchairs going off first at 7:50 a.m. Everyone else starts at 8 a.m. At the crack of the starting gun, competitors head up Louisiana Street toward Franklin Street, then hang a left toward Bagby Street [source: Bayou City Classic]. The course turns left on Bagby then heads past the Houston Downtown Aquarium toward Memorial Drive. From there, participants hang a right on Memorial Drive and head under the Interstate 45 overpass on their way out to South Shepherd Drive. This is the longest stretch of the course -- approximately 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) each way.
While on Memorial Drive, the course passes several landmarks including Glenwood Cemetery, Sabine, Cleveland and Spotts Park, and Buffalo Bayou. South Shepherd Drive marks the midway point. The course then does a U-turn and heads back in the opposite lane of Memorial Drive toward where it started. After passing back under the I-45 overpass, the course hits Bagby again, where it veers right for three blocks before turning left on Walker Street to the finish near City Hall.
Along the route, participants can hit up one of several strategically placed water and Powerade stations. Additionally, the course is certified by USA Track & Field's Road Technical Council [source: Bayou City Classic].
Scoring is handled via a D-Tag attached to each participant's shoe. A D-Tag is a lightweight plastic band that resembles identification bands you'd get on your wrist during a hospital visit. D-Tags integrate a small disposable radio frequency identification (RFID) chip that contains specific information for each entrant. Participants are given their D-Tags after registration to record the times at which they cross the starting and finishing lines. The D-Tag information validates scoring for each runner.
A post-race party and awards ceremony kicks off at 9:30 a.m., but participants are given 2 hours and 30 minutes to finish the race. So each mile of the course has a 24-minute time limit, and once that passes, it's reopened to traffic.
That's the gist of the course. Now let's take a look at some of the awards and prizes given to participants after each race. This is where the fun begins.