The Chevron Houston Marathon took place this weekend while hosting the the USA Half Marathon Championships. Boulder athletes have a long tie to the race there. Houston has a storied past of a stellar elite field, a fast course and ideal weather in January.
Before serving as the keeper of time for Boulder area races, Benji Durden lead a prolific career as a professional runner. He was ranked among the top 10 US marathoners with 25 sub 2:20 marathons with a personal record of 2:09:57 and made the 1980 Olympic team in the marathon, but was unable to compete because of the U.S. boycott of the games held in Moscow.
In 1982 Durden set a new course record at the 10th Annual Houston Tenneco Marathon with a winning time of 2:11:11 out running a stacked field with the likes of running legends Dick Beardsley, Bill Rodgers, and John Halberstadt the co-founder of the Boulder Running Company.
According to the official race summary: “With temperatures below 60 degrees, Don Kardong predicted that the 2:12:19 record set by Rodgers in 1981 would likely fall.”
“Since the 1982 entry list was like a who’s who of long distance running with more than a dozen marathon champions, there was no out-and-out leader as about eight juggled the lead through much of the first half. By the three-quarter mark, it was clearly a fight between Durden and Beardsley.”
Durden recalls on his Facebook post:
Dick and I worked together from about 8 miles to drop Billy and the rest of the field by taking turns pushing the pace. Every 2 minutes we would switch leading. About 13 miles Billy was done and it was just Dick and me. About 17-18 miles it was his turn to lead for 2 minutes and he didn’t come forward. I sensed he was dropping off and I pushed a bit and that was that.
Not only does Durden keep busy now a days by timing many of the local area races, he is an avid nature photographer, a Boulder Track Club Ambassador and a Marathon Maniac who since November of 2013, has now completed a marathon in all 50 states including an overall win in 2013, 21 years after his last.