Marathons and related races are unique in the sporting world because they enable average, everyday runners to participate in the same event, at the same time, as the world’s best. You can’t sign up to play baseball in the World Series, but you can run the same race as Mo Farah or Desiree Linden, experiencing the same conditions and challenges.

This year, you don’t even have to run 26.2 miles to run with a champion, since the Chevron Houston Marathon has added a new race-weekend event featuring Meb Keflezighi. The “Shake Out Run” kicks off the pre-marathon festivities on Thursday, Jan. 17 with a non-competitive three-mile run through Houston’s running mecca, Memorial Park.

Bernice Torregrossa:

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