Racers bracing for frigid temperatures during Houston Marathon

By Rose-Ann Aragon - Reporter

HOUSTON - Many people are bracing for the frigid temperatures expected to make their way to Houston this weekend. While many are looking forward to the Chevron Houston Marathon and the MLK Parade, others are working on also preparing their homes for the drop in degrees.

"I bought pipe covering and faucet covering for the impending freeze coming to Houston," Carla Carberry, a customer at Lowe's in Southwest Houston, said.

Carberry was not alone Wednesday as dozens of people flocked to the store location to get the basic necessities for cold weather home prep: pipe insulator, insulator faucet covers, plant frost blankets and more.

"I'll water my plants real good, cover them up and hope everything survives," Carberry said.

Village Plumbing and Home Services in Houston was also very busy.

"Winter time is always a busy time for us," said David Robbins, an employee and plumber with the company.

"Make sure it's good and tight around there," Robbins said while placing insulator on a pipe as a demonstration. "They can freeze, crack and break and cause a leak."

Robbins said a mishap with freezing pipes can cause a homeowner hundreds, more than $500 for some basic repairs.

"Anything exposed, you want to keep the wind off of the pipes, that's one of the big factors. That's one of the biggest things, plus the cold weather, is the wind chill," Robbins said.

Robbins recommends that people turn off sprinklers, cover faucets and make sure the backflow or vacuum system is drained. He also recommends that people open up the doors under the kitchen sink to help keep the pipes at room temperature. He says this especially helps if that kitchen wall is an exterior one.

The Houston marathon kicks off this weekend and thousands of runners are going to bear the cold. Organizers say they, too, need to be prepared.

"Stay warm. Conserve your energy," Muffy King, with the Chevron Houston Marathon said.

It is the week before the largest single-day sporting event in Houston.

"Should the forecast cold weather actually come through when it's supposed to, we're encouraging runners to take advantage of the GRB Convention Center. Houston is unique, and we use the entire first floor of GRB before running events, so please come inside," King said.

As runners spend the week prepping their bodies for the 26-mile run, organizers said they, too, should be gearing up.

"The best thing to do is wear layers," King said. "Whatever you do shed, we donate to Star of Hope, so it won't become waste on the Houston streets."

Doctors said the key to safety is getting warm and staying warm, especially as runners are waiting to start.

"Even though they are active and running outside, they are still at risk for hypothermia, just from being out in that cold weather for so long, and for us living in Houston, we're not used to being in that cold weather so you need to be careful," Dr. Vijay Jotwani, Houston Methodist Sports Medicine doctor, said.

While there won't be blankets waiting for runners at the finish line, organizers hope it won't be that bad.

"The coldest marathon on record is 25 degrees here in Houston, believe it or not, so we don't anticipate anything of that nature and as of right now all events are scheduled as planned," King said.

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