Paul Pilkington has fond memories of his victory at last year's Houston-Tenneco Marathon, and he'd like nothing more than to recapture the same feelings this weekend.
Pilkington heads an international field in Sunday's 19th running of the marathon, which features a record of more than 5,000 entries."Last year, I had one of my best runs ever," Pilkington said Friday. "I was able to do everything just right. I'd really love to be there at the finish again this year, but I realize these things never get easier. It's a tough field."
Pilkington, a junior high school English teacher in Roy, Utah, won last year's event in 2 hours, 11 minutes, 13 seconds, just off the course record of 2:10.04 set by Richard Kaitany in 1989.
Pilkington does have one less threat to worry about. Denmark's Allan Zachariassen withdrew Friday because of an injury. He has been among the top five finishers in three previous Houston marathons, and was second to Pilkington last year. Zachariassen is coming off a victory in the 1990 Barcelona Marathon.
Zachariassen's withdrawal is only a slight break for Pilkington. He still must contend with runners like Mexico's Martin Mondragon, a 1988 Olympian making his first appearance in Houston, and Kenyan Sam Ngatia, who has been in the top 10 four of the five times he has run the Houston event.