Alex Trebek might have even accepted the Bay Area Running Club or The Woodlands Running Club, which the latter usually still schedules a similar trip.
But Volte Endurance Training, based in north Harris County and south Montgomery County, may be the new flag bearer as it will take 20 runners to North Bend, Washington – near the Snoqaulmie Pass east of Seattle – for Sunday’s Tunnel Light Marathon.
|A large Volte group at a race is not an uncommon occurrence.|
“The initial plan was to have about four do this race - more or less under the radar,” he said. “People talk and four became six, six became eight and so on. It was not planned to have a bigger group. It just happened.”
Earlier this spring, Volte had a solid group travel to Las Vegas, Nevada to run either the Revel Mount Charleston Marathon or Half Marathon.
Three of those runners – Juan Flores, Kristi Chen and Erica Coleman – met their respective age group and gender’s qualifying standard for next April’s Boston Marathon, which opened up its registration this week.
A good portion of Dwyer’s runners have the same goal for Sunday – qualify for Boston -- and put in the preparation as much or more than ever before.
“I usually only post one to three weeks of a schedule at a time,” Dwyer said. “For Tunnel Light, I posted the whole schedule and everyone got excited knowing what the complete plan was for the end game.
“This group not only embraced the plan but set up additional meet up times to get their workouts in together. The work ethic of this group is off the charts.”
No surprise as six of Volte’s eight qualifiers - Derek Bailey, Flores, Laura Godfrey, Sandra Tezino, Chen and Erica Coleman -- for the 2018 Boston Marathon are making the trip.
Michelle McGill and Leanne Rosser ran Boston earlier this year (as did Bailey, Godfrey and Tezino).
And Bonnie Scholz and Yaya Herrera are seeking vindication after being denied a Boston Qualifier from the shortened course at this March’s Fidelity Investments The Woodlands Marathon.
Todd Hunter, Tammy Grado, Gabby Westbrook, Monse Loumeus, Jon Braunersreuther, Lauren Hoffart, Judith Albarran, Mike Coleman, Marta Mixa and Falon Gunter will also be part of the group of 20 that take a little #TexasStrong to Washington state.
As a coach, Dwyer says he’s both a little nervous and excited about Sunday’s race.
“The group is trained very well and have good plans,” he said. “We'll send everyone off on a shuttle early and not see them again until the finish. It'll be exciting to see them come across the finish line.”
Normally, at races such as The Woodlands Marathon and the Chevron Houston Marathon, Dwyer and his assistant coaches Mary Carter, Rich Cooper, Juliee Sparks and Layton Gill can be found at various places on the course supporting their athletes.
As far as making those good plans, Dwyer said he learned both from Tezino and Godfrey’s efforts at Tunnel Light last year as well as his marathoners that ran Mount Charleston in Las Vegas earlier this year.
“I am (little) worried about being accurate with the downhill course, (though) I did learn a lot at Revel,” he said. “This course is a 2,000 foot drop over 26-miles, 1-1/2% grade so it should be easier on everyone than Revel was.
Many of the race plans will mimic those of Tezino and Godfrey’s.
“I had set race plans for 3:40 finishes for both and they both finished in 3:39 so the race plans were spot on,” he added. “This year’s group is in as good of shape as Laura and Sandra were last year and the weather is setting up to be favorable.”
And with favorable weather comes a trail that is in excellent condition – especially since the majority of the group aren’t hard-core trail runners.
“It's a fairy groomed trail so I have down played the effect – basically not much different than the surface at Memorial Park,” Dwyer explained. “I have two runners – Juan Flores and Bonnie Scholz -- that get excited for any sort of trail. They are extra motivated.”
Volte looks to continue its traveling – as a group - in 2018 as they will return to Revel Mount Charleston in late April.
He added that “there are a few other events being tossed around, but nothing set in stone.”
One thing is for certain, though, Dwyer says that he’s draws a lot from his runners.
“I have stated many times that I'm very blessed to have so many great individuals surrounding me,” he said. “Everyone in our group, not just this training group, brings a lot to Volte.”
A large part of the reason that caused Dwyer to reflect when asked if he preferred coaching here in his prime – or when he was a runner in his prime (with a BQ, a Boston Marathon finish and a pair of 100-mile finishes).
“Good question. I would say coaching,” he said. “Coaching is much more rewarding. Sharing the experiences I have already lived with others - passing it all on.”
Hard to imagine anyone on Sunday making the trip from outside of Washington state that will have a bigger smile on their face than Dwyer.