How the Houston Rodeo 10K Works

The ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run is a 10K race that kicks off Houston's huge rodeo parade.
The ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run is a 10K race that kicks off Houston's huge rodeo parade.

Houston is accustomed to stampedes -- after all, this city of nearly 6 million people arose in a land of hardcore cattle ranchers. So it's no surprise that Houston hosts a giant stampede of humans, in a race that's fittingly called the Rodeo Run.

The ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run (formerly known as the Houston Rodeo 10K) is held in Houston every year on the last Saturday in February. Entrants can choose between the competitive 10K run and a just-for-fun 5K run.

The rodeo moniker isn't just to add local flavor to the event. The race actually kicks off the annual livestock parade, which precedes the 20-day-long Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which per Texas standards, is the biggest and most extravagant livestock show on the planet. The rodeo is over the top, too, as it's the biggest money event on the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) circuit.

The show also features major concerts, so everyone from Elvis to the Black Eyed Peas and ZZ Top have played there. These kinds of events draw huge crowds -- more than 2.2 million people attended the show in 2010.

Show organizers want to make their event even more popular, so adding a footrace made sense. They started the 10K race in 1988.

ConocoPhilips is the major sponsor of the race, thus, the name. There are other major corporate sponsors, including Continental Airlines, Halliburton, and GE Oil & Gas, among others.

Race entry fees go to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Educational Fund, which is used to fund scholarships. In 2010, early registration cost $22 and late registration was $27. Those entry fees meant about $300,000 went to the education fund, which has now gathered more than $2.5 million from the race since it was added to the schedule of events 23 years ago [source: Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo]