HOUSTON, February 24, 2010 -- For the sixth year running, Aramco Services Co. (ASC) employees hosted the Aramco Houston Half Marathon, which provided a forum for elite and recreational runners to race a 13.1-mile course.

“This race has played a vital role in the path to success for numerous U.S. athletes,” said Doug Logan, CEO of USA Track and Field, the governing body of track and field, long-distance running and race-walking in the United States.

Two-time Olympian Shalene Flanagan of Portland, Ore., broke the women’s course record and won the USA Women’s Half Marathon Championship with a time of 1:09:41. Antonio Vega of St. Paul, Minn., won the Men’s Half Marathon Championship and set a personal record of 1:01:54.

Runners push-off at the Houston Half
Marathon start line. The race attracted a
record-breaking 13,000 runners this year.

Those weren’t the only records. This year, a record-breaking 13,000 runners signed up — 2,000 more than last year — and when registration opened in July, the race sold out in a record 20 hours.

The marathon is part of a three-day running event that includes the Chevron Houston Marathon and the El Paso 5K. More than 26,000 runners participated and raised an estimated $1.5 million for 46 local charities through the Run for a Reason program.

“It is a great honor for Aramco Services to be part of an event that every year makes such a positive impact on Houston,” said Ali A. Abuali, president and CEO of Aramco Services Co. (ASC), who also ran in the 5K.  “It brings together runners at all levels, benefits local charities as well as the city and draws huge support from volunteers, including our own employees. Their hard work and commitment make this event especially meaningful.”

A total of 320 employees, family members and friends came out to support racers by distributing race packets, water along the race course and a post-race breakfast. They also joined the ASC Hoopla Team to cheer them on. Forty-three members of the ASC Running Team participated in the races. 

Shalene Flanagan, left, and Antonio Vega
show off their gold medals after the race.

The Aramco Houston Half Marathon provides a great opportunity for community outreach,” said Mohammed Maghlouth, director of ASC Public Affairs.  “This impressive event not only benefits the city of Houston and local charities, it also supports health, fitness and community wellness.”

Ahmed  A. Bugis of the Yanbu‘ Export Refinery Project and his family volunteered for their fourth year. “We’ve been volunteering as a family since I was little, back in Saudi Arabia,” said his daughter, Lina, “and it has given me an opportunity to experience different things.”

“Volunteering is good,” said her brother, Abdullah, “and it feels great to give back to Houston.” 

“We feel that it is our obligation to support local activities and to participate in events in the community where we live. We take every opportunity to volunteer with Aramco Services,” said Bugis.

Mike Lapka of ASC Career Development has staffed the half marathon’s water station for all six years of the company’s sponsorship and served as water station captain for the past five. When asked what motivates him to volunteer, he said, “Partly because I enjoy it, partly because it needs to be done and partly because the ‘thank you’ I get from a runner is truly sincere and heartfelt.”

This was ASC Career Development’s Rola Elzoor’s sixth time to run. She trained with the ASC Running Team.  “Some people can’t understand why anyone would want to run 26.2 miles, and my response is I truly find this to be a challenge to my mind and body,” she said.

Mary Kate Lord of Corporate Planning ran the half marathon and also served as the ASC Running Team captain. “Running and volunteering for a race ASC sponsors makes me feel that I’m contributing to the company in a positive way,” she said.

Tofiq Al-Gabsani, president of Saudi Refining Inc., congratulated winners.  “This was my first time to attend the Aramco Houston Half Marathon, and I was amazed at the energy and high spirits all around,” he said. “The effort of the ASC Public Affairs Department and ASC volunteers from throughout the company makes us all proud.”