Sunday, April 18, 2021

Two More Volte Women Go 1-2 to Win Sienna 10 Five-Miler With 8 AG Placements Overall

It’s been said it isn’t bragging if you can back it up.

Volte’s efforts lately have been so hot they have been setting off sparks on Nine Volte’s snap connectors.  (Battery humor, folks.)

Seriously.  Wow.  Impressive stuff.

Sunday in Fort Bend County at Ridge Point High School at Sienna 10 was a great day for Volte athletes and friends.

Great started with Roger King not only driving 65 miles to pick up his first-place plaque from last week, but most importantly -- to support our athletes with Volte founder Bill Dwyer.

Thank you, gentlemen.

On the roads, for the second day in a row, two Volte women have grabbed the two spots of their respective race as Maria Sanchez and Jane Campbell finished first and second, respectively, in the five-miler with times of 34:58 and 37:16.

Jane Campbell and Maria Sanchez sport Venezuela running singlets part of an effort by Volte founder Bill Dwyer to celebrate every couple of months the group's runners from around the globe.  Auggie Campbell is pictured on the far right.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Maria and Jane were running their first races in their new age groups as they turned 20 and 40, respectively, in March and last week.

Sanchez delivers Volte's third overall win in eight days in the 5-miler.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

And for Campbell, it was her first race at the five-mile distance and the first time she’s placed in any race.  

Sanchez lowered her personal best by a minute and 34 seconds from her 36:32 performance in early February at Bridgeland@Conroe.

In the six races of the 2020-2021 Texas 10 Series, her time is only one of four under 35 minutes and behind only Halley Pigford, The Woodlands (32:35, Bridgeland@Conroe); Jamie Johnston, Mont Belvieu (32:36, Katy) and Zero Dark Thirty’s Keri Amador (33:03, Conroe).

Elsewhere in the five-miler, Jerritt Park posted his fastest time of his four showings this Series with a 33:11, first-place age group effort.

Park races to his fastest five-mile finish of the Series.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Auggie Campbell, Jane’s husband, covered the distance in 42 minutes even, good for third place in his division.

In the 10-mile race, just four of our athletes competed – and we shined like a country at the Olympics:  two firsts, a second and a third-place age group finish.

Leading the way was one of only six athletes in the entire 2020-2021 Texas 10 Series that have won their division five times or more, that being Darren Hadden.

Hadden heads to the 5-miler turnaround focused.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Darren grabbed another win with a showing of 1:04:27.

Eugenia Carter is the only runner to finish first in their division in all six races.  

Hadden joins Volte friend Mark Amann, who won his fourth straight 10-mile race on Sunday; one of the state’s top masters duathletes in Steve Sievert and 11- and 10-year-old Jayden and Haley Roth from Beaumont.

Give a guy a great bib number like 1000 – and challenge him to make something happen with it.

And did Rob Gay ever.

Gay looks like he could step in at tailback for the LSU Tigers en route to the finish.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

How about beating his personal best time from last week at Katy by four minutes and 56 seconds – a time of 1:10:14.

Even Wal-Mart prices are not falling that fast anymore.

Oh yeah, Rob “No Taper” Gay is taking a page out of the Murillo playbook.  

He ran 12 miles yesterday.

Erika Sampson and Mayra Caamano grabbed top ten overall female placements with their times of 1:13:52 and 1:17:18, respectively, as they were seventh and ninth.

1:13 and Sampson looks like she's taking a stroll.  Wow!  Great job.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

They were in a masters’ field that included two of Houston’s top masters’ runners – Catherine Kruppa and Flora Lai – as well as Texas 10 Series’ top master race in, race out, Pasadena’s Eugenia Carter.

Sampson won her age group in 1:13:52, her second-best time of six in this year’s Series.

Caamano joins Sampson and Hadden with five age group placings in the 10-mile division.

A day after winning the Miles for Meals 10K in Conroe on a hilly course, she posted her third consecutive mark of 1:17, specifically on Sunday in 1:17:18.

Volte friends shined too.

Alvaro and Lusi Trejo both finished sixth overall and second in their age group with respective times of 25:18 and 30:25.

They are the only two runners who have run each 5K in this year’s 2020-2021 Texas 10 Series.

Erin and Jimmie Gowton led our friends in the five-mile race with times of 42:22 and 50:09, respectively.  

They are just two of nine runners who have run all six five-mile races.  That list also includes Huntsville’s Ken Johnson.

Erin won her second age group placement of the year as she placed second in her 40-44 division.

Strike Force Racing’s Dee Akers grabbed second in her division in 55:49.

Huntsville’s Ray and Dianna Sarno ran their fifth five-miler of the Series together as the finished in 57:41.  

Well, Ray finished a second later actually – and grabbed second place in his division.

Johnson was second in his age group in 1:13:27, while longtime The Woodlands Running Club member Kathleen Eaton from The Woodlands walked the distance in 1:24:09.

Of course, Amann, as mentioned above, won the overall race in 55:49.

Paul Blutt won his age group in 1:05:07.

Kevin Baker, a day after finishing third overall in the same Miles for Meals 10K that Caamano was first in, ran in 1:08:46.

He has run all six Texas 10 Series 10-milers – and was the first race that he was not on the podium in the 45-49 men’s division.

Woodlands Fit’s Randy Bradley, who ran the 5K in Conroe on Saturday, finished in 1:41:50. 

Volte Women Go 1-2 in the 10K at Miles For Meals

A year ago, even with the pandemic bearing down on the United States and the Lone Star state, the Montgomery County Meals for Wheels program was able – without too much worry of COVID-19 – to host its fourth annual Miles for Meals race at B-52 Brewery in Conroe.

And as our area is now working its way out of it, as are many other parts of the country, those races that were held the closest to the start of quarantines and lockdowns have seemed to have not lost their numbers that other races have.

The Miles for Meals races appeared on Saturday to be the epitome of that notion.

The race’s first year was 2017 and was an untimed event, but the last four years, including Saturday’s fifth annual gathering, numbers have held steady pushing the event to its limits.

This year and last, a 10K was added for the hardier adventurists of the Lake Forest Falls subdivision that two-thirds of the race winds through.

The finisher numbers, by years, are as follows:

2018 – 532 in the 5K
2019 – 556 in the 5K
2020 – 469 in the 5K and 90 in the 10K
2021 – 401 in the 5K and 86 in the 10K

Even though numbers of timed finishers were slightly down, the atmosphere – and return to live racing for many runners – was positive.

Volte was charged up as well with seven runners, all in the 10K.

Kim White, Julie Stevenson, Trudy Regnier and Sharon Mitchell represented well on Saturday.
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk)

For the second week time in six days, Volte had itself an overall winner.

A week ago, Roger King won the 5-miler associated with the Katy 10 race of the Texas 10 Series.

This week, it was Mayra Caamano’s time to strike.

Leading wire-to-wire, and looking strong doing so, Caamano, 43, led Volte teammate Julie Stevenson, 57, across the finish line, with a two-minute, 41-second advantage that gave her the third fastest time in the race’s two-year history with the 10K in 47:49.

She said it brought back memories years ago when Volte athlete Leanne Harris won the 5K at the Southern Star Brewing Company race in Conroe on the other side of Interstate 45.

“Beautiful morning for a run, and a gorgeous route,” said Caamano.  “A bit hilly, but really, really pretty.”

She added that it was “great seeing so many Voltes.”

Including a couple of surprises.

To no surprise, running well was Kim White, 60, who finished first in his age group, and with 15-year-old Zack Zinny of Montgomery to claim the last two top 10 spots in the race.

Stevenson held off 16-year-old Amber Longwell by 20 seconds to claim the second overall women's spot in 50 minutes even.

The surprise of the morning was seeing one of Volte’s top and most consistent marathoners Michelle McGill.

Very classy that McGill, on the out and back, ran ahead of her daughter, Amanda (on the left), to stop and visit for a few seconds before grabbing this shot of the two.
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk)

Sharing that she’s spent much of the past year, since the start of pandemic, running on her own, she was seen out on the course on Saturday with her daughter Amanda Williams.

The duo ran together in 1:04:52.

Also spending a lot of time running with one another were two veterans of Volte’s Wednesday night track workouts, Trudy Regnier and Sharon Mitchell.

Trudy got a little kick at the end, reminiscent of her finish at the five miler in Huntsville a few weeks ago, and led Sharon to the finish line by 45 seconds.

She stopped the clock in 1:10:50, while Sharon followed in 1:10:53.

Lots of friends of Volte out running the course as well.

Kevin Baker, who just enlisted to be coached by two-time Olympic Trials marathoner and upcoming Obstacle Course Racing star Lauren Stroud, finished third overall in 40:46.

Baker, who is a sponsor of the race, won the 5K in last year’s event in 19:22.

Good group of Red X Running athletes were seen on the course, led by their leader - and community leader - Barry Blanton.

He finished in 1:14:14.

There were also a good group of Woodlands Fit runners, who, of course, man the other corner near our starting point outside of Fleet Feet each week.

Mariela Rodriguez ran well covering the distance in 1:08:45.

In the 5K, John Slate of the Seven Hills Running Club was second in his age group in 26:02, longtime Woodlands Fit athlete – and all-around good guy – Randy Bradley finished in 30:31, while the legend, Jim Braden, at 85, saw his way through the distance in 38:24, winning his 70-and-over age group.


Sunday, April 11, 2021

Volte Blew Down The Door at Katy 10 with 6 AG Placements and 4 PRs

History was made at today’s Katy 10 race.

Nothing too special about it being the 52nd race in the history of the Texas 10 Series.

Of course, any win is special – as our Roger King grabbed the overall five-mile title today the first Volte to do so at Katy since Ken Rieger did it in back-to-back years in 2013 and 2014.

It was the first permitted race in Harris County since the start of the pandemic in mid-March 2020.

And just in time.

Even with timed finishers for the 5K and 1-milers included, it was the smallest of the seven Texas 10 Series races in Katy.  (2013 was the first year and 2016 was cancelled due to weather.)

It was also the third largest of the five races of the 2020-2021 Texas 10 Series with Sienna and Cypress to follow.

And today’s weather was perfect for our Volte athletes to clean up at the awards booth – six age group placements – featuring four PR’s and a fifth tie.

As always, our seven athletes were flanked by a host of Volte friends.

It was the second straight race that Roger King competed at the five-mile distance, after finishing third overall two weeks ago in Huntsville in 31:56.

This is what a winning race looks like from Roger King in the five miler today.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Today, with an influx of Houston area running talent from the west side of town, Roger put the hammer down and rattled off a new five-mile personal best of 30:26 for the overall win.

In doing so, he led Volte friend Paul Blutt to the line by a minute and 13 seconds as Paul finished in 31:39.

Jerritt Park was fourth overall in 33:42 – the best of his three five-mile races in this year’s Texas 10 Series.

Volte friends Erin and Jimmie Gowton from Montgomery posted their best five-mile times of the season as well with marks of 41:48 and 47:37.  They have run all five of the five-milers in this year’s Series.

Ray and Diana Sarno from Huntsville once again ran the course together as Ray took first in his division and Diana was third in hers.  They finished in 57:37 as they completed their fourth race of the season.

Finally in the five-miler, Ken Johnson, who has run all five, was second in his age group in 1:12:06.

In the 5K, our friends from the Tough Runners Club, Alvaro and Lusi Trejo had superb days.

Alvaro was third in his age group in 25:27 and Lusi, who’s been putting her new Peloton bike to the test, achieved her fastest of five 5K finishes in the Series dipping under 30 minutes in 29:32.

On to the marquee race.

Darren Hadden led us today with a 45-49 age group winning time of 1:02:30, equaling his best from Bridgeland 10 @ Conroe.

He entered the Armadillo Cup standings today in third with 48 points, behind Kevin Baker with 65 and Michael Prejean with 59.

With the age group win, he grabs 14 points to move to 62 overall.  

Baker was second, picking up 13 to move to 78 and retaining the lead.  Prejean was fifth, good for 10 points and keeping him in second with 69.

Seven Hills Running Club’s Steve Allen was seventh, adding eight points and staying in fourth with 53 points.

Finishing third in his age group, Robert King earned a new personal best with a 1:03:56 showing – just over two minutes better from his time at Conroe in late November.

With her third age group win in the Series, a new personal best by two minutes and 45 seconds and the best 45-49 time in the five races, Erika Sampson punched out a time of 1:12:28 and was the third overall masters behind Hailey Pigford and Pam Meaux.

Erika Sampson's time was so hot ... the fire hydrant was even chasing her today!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Sampson earns 14 points in the Armadillo Cup to push her total to 75.  

Second-place Mary Moellmer of Tomball was third today getting 12 points to stay in second with 61 points while Bobbie Peterson was sixth earning nine points to remain in third with 57 points.

An age group win from Sampson as Sienna 10 should seal up her $175 first place age group prize, even if she does not race Cypress in two weeks.

Running in his second straight Texas 10 Series race, Rob Gay set a new 10-mile personal best with a time of 1:15:10.

And rounding out our Volte athletes is Mayra Caamano, who leads the Armadillo Cup standings for 40-44 year old females.

Needing to run two of the last three races to qualify for the $175 first place age group prize, Caamano earned her second straight age group win – and fourth podium finish of the Series – with a 1:17:07 time.

Since Pigford’s masters win will give her the 14 first place points, Caamano earned 13 points to give her 62 points and more of a firm grip on first place.

Aiding Caamano’s cause is the fact that Courtney West, second in the Armadillo Cup standings, was 11th in her age group today meaning that she will earn only five points to move her to 44 points – 18 behind Caamano.

Jennie Elliott in third and Leticia Sandoval in fifth, with 31 and 25 points, respectively, both didn’t race.

Finishing third on the course today was Cypress’ Karen Ellis who was nipping on Caamano’s heels in chip time eight seconds back.

Ellis will collect 12 points to move to 42 points and third place.

An age group win at Sienna, with the 18 points, would give Caamano 80 points and give her the ability to clinch the $175 prize without racing Cypress.

Or Caamano could skip Sienna, grab the 14 points with a win at Cypress, giving her 76 and even if West won at Sienna and finished second at Cypress it would only give West 75 - and Caamano the Armadillo Cup win.

Volte friend Mark Amann won his third straight 10-miler and fifth for his career, collecting $225 for his 54:41 effort.

More Volte friend finishes included Kevin Baker in 1:05:23, good for second in his division; Cristina Gray in 1:27:33; Randy Bradley in 1:45:58 and Mayra Alvarado in 1:53:02.

Volte Gets More Than Just Bluebonnets and Blue Bell in Brenham

After a year’s hiatus due to the pandemic, the Blue Bell Fun Run returned to Washington County in its traditional early April spot on the calendar.

However, like most other events that were forced to cancel in 2020, participant numbers may take awhile to recover.

In 2019, the Blue Bell Fun Run – in its four race distances  (1M, 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon) – saw 2,998 official timed finishers cross its finish line.

Saturday, sans the Kids’ one-mile, which generally gets 200 or more timed finishers, there were just 1,185 – 159 in the half marathon, 285 in the 10K and 741 from three waves of 5K.

That had not happened since 2009, when there were just 866 finishers between the 5K and the 10K.

The question remains:  Could it really have been the ice cream that affected participant numbers? 

Given that Blue Bell, as part of its COVID protocols, chose not to hand out free ice cream at the finish as in years’ past but rather coupons for a free pint wherever Blue Bell is sold.

Three out of our four half marathoners took home age group awards, but the one who did not was not penalized by their racing efforts.

Waverly Walk, Judith Albarran, Chris Branch and Mimi Torrez are all smiles before the start of Saturday's Blue Bell Fun Run at Brenham High School.
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk)

Chris Branch and Judith Albarran grabbed second place in their respective age groups with times of 1:38:26 and 1:50:41, respectively.

Mary Ann Miller got the event’s top prize for Voltes with a first-place division finishing time of 2:22:50.

Halfway to her goal of 30 half marathons before the age of 30, Waverly Walk ran with her Dad, Jon Walk, as she finished her 15th career half while he completed his 152nd.

Daughter outraced Dad to the finish by two seconds to finish in 2:26:07. 

Jon had run Blue Bell’s inaugural half marathon three years ago in 2:20:46 – a course that was changed for the 2019 event.

Had Waverly not run with her Dad, even a repeat of her smashing PR at The Woodlands Half Marathon would not have put her on the podium.

Waverly Walk and Volte friend Erika Park less than an hour away from the start of the Blue Bell Fun Run Half Marathon.  They were celebrating Erika's 46th birthday, set for Sunday.
(Photo courtesy of Jon Walk)

The hills didn’t seem to bother our other Volte friend who ran the half marathon too much.

Erika Park from Houston – on her final day of being 45 years old –was seventh overall and the second overall female in 1:34:42.

She followed Richland, Washington’s Brianna Butler by just 55 seconds and has now posted the third fastest women’s time of the three editions of the in-person version of the half marathon (2018-2019, 2021).

Mimi Torrez led us in the 10K with an age group winning time of 52:58.  Rich Cooper and Andrew DeSimone followed in 1:05:45 and 1:07:16, respectively.

Volte friends included Erika Lawton in 1:03:38, Randy Bradley in 1:03:57, a second-place age group finish for Vincent Attanucci in 1:04:21 and a 1:18:31 time from Dolores Macias.

In the 5K, there was a train.

Which, of course, stopped Christopher and Stephanie Reed – and others – in their tracks for four minutes.

Enough that it denied Stephanie an overall win.

She said that she had stopped her watch – and that her running time was 22:29, despite her official time of 26:48.  The official winning time was 23:44.

Stephanie still took first in her age group while Christopher took second in his with his time of 27:42.

The 5K was conducted in three separate waves at 9:30, 9:45 and 10 a.m.

Ruth Perez and Geri Henry also took home hardware with second- and first-place age group finishes, respectively, in 31:33 and 39:10.

And Ken Johnson was first in his age group in 44:02 – and he barely missed the train as the guard rail almost hit his head as it came down, he reported on his blog.

It was the 18th time that Ken ran Blue Bell with his first race there coming back in 1996.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Michael and Diana Gayle ventured to New Braunfels to compete in Run In Texas’ 5 Stones Artisan Brewery 5K.

Michael finished in 25:35 while Diana followed exactly three minutes behind in 28:35.

Jerritt Park stayed close to home and won the five-finisher Run The Woodlands 5K at Barbara Bush Elementary in The Woodlands in 21:45. 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Volte Athletes Get April Off to a Good Start

With three Texas 10 Series races to wrap up its 2020-2021 season, April is going to prove to be the busiest month for Volte runners since the start of the pandemic.

A handful of our runners got things started on Easter weekend – Saturday and Sunday, April 3 and 4.

But before that, the daughter of Volte runner Mayra Caamano, Chloe Kramer, capped off her sophomore season of track and field at College Park High School with a second-place overall finish in the 1,600 meters at the UIL District 13-6A Sub-Varsity Meet on Thursday, April 1.

Kramer set a personal best of 5:34.08 – just seven seconds behind The Woodlands’ Vivian Pfister.

Since only three runners can represent each school at the varsity district meet, it was the only JV race that she ran all season.

Her bests - all career bests - this season included a 1:09.78 400 meters, 5:15.64 in the 1,500 meters and a 12:32.60 in the 3200.  The bests in the 400 and the 3,200 meters were in the same meet.

Trail Racing Over Texas’ Brazos Bend races – 25K and 50K -- were moved to 7IL Ranch in the metropolis of Cat Spring.

Williamstown, New Jersey’s Joe Iovanisci came in with a 93.82 rank on UltraSignup and likely figured to pick up a win at the 50K distance, but he had never run against Luis Murillo before.

Luis, 37, bested him by more than 30 minutes to take the overall win in 3:13:46, while brother Juan, 44, was fourth overall in 4:07:06.

After an excellent marathon in March at The Woodlands Marathon, it was time for Rob Gay, 44, to get his first ultra-marathon in the books, doing so in fine fashion with a debut 5:00:45 in the 50K.

Have to wonder if a 50-miler will wipe that smile off of Rob's face?!
Seriously though, great debut at the 50K distance.
(Photo courtesy of Layton Gill)

Luis and Juan’s father, Jose, finished the 25K in 2:43:00.

Replacing Muddy Trails this year, since its course lies in Harris County, The Woodlands Township Parks and Recreation department created the Run and Done 3.1 that was held on The Woodlands Waterway.

Sharon Mitchell participated and finished in 33:38.

Reports indicated that the course was slightly short, but otherwise kudos went out to the Parks and Recreation staff from whom events are typically very well produced.

Volte friends John Slate of the Seven Hills Running Club and Galloway’s Debbie Tripp finished, respectively, in 25:03 and 39:25.  John was first in his age group.

To no one’s surprise, Volte friend – and legend – Ken Johnson got in two races before The Woodlands Running Club’s Sunday Night 5K.

Ken ran the Run The Ramps 5K (Ramp Romp in earlier versions) for the 13th time on Friday, April 2, 2021, finishing in 44:05 – almost a minute faster than he did in 2019.

The next morning, he ran his 17th race of the year and his 1,170th overall when he travelled to Bellville to run the Guns and Hoses 5K.

Ken finished in 43:25 – and that included a porta-potty stop as he recorded on his blog.

A big turnout ensued at The Woodlands Running Club Sunday Night 5K on Sunday, April 4.

Sixteen runners – including two Volte friends – covered the distance.

Robert King led the way with the overall win in 20:35.

Jerritt Park and his son Brayden went second and third in 21:15 and 23:23, respectively.

Making it 55K for the weekend was Rob Gay who was next in 25:05 while Todd Hunter was not too far behind in 25:37.

Todd Hunter stepping it in to the finish with about two-tenths of a mile to go.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Judith Albarran was the first overall female in 26:10, which was also the time for Christopher Branch.

Volte friend Jon Walk was next in 30:53 followed by George Rux in 31:40.

Good work by George Rux to start off the month of April.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

The entire Campbell family joined us – Jane and daughter Evie ran together while Auggie and his son Simon did so – and they all finished in 34:26.

Robert Dempsey escorted his wife, Michelle, to a finishing time of 36:53, while Ken Johnson made it three for three with a time of 42:42.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Volte Springs Into April After a Successful March

Things in Volte, USA were still a little quiet in the month of March post-The Woodlands Marathon.

Of course, Harris County judge Lina Hidalgo still has a lockdown on permitting races south of us; therefore, all runners must satisfy their racing desires elsewhere.

Our runners have done that more than a time or two already as we are an adventurous bunch.

So, cue up the Bobby McFerrin classic, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

One day after The Woodlands Marathon came the monthly The Woodlands Running Club Sunday Night 5K at Barbara Bush Elementary in The Woodlands on Sunday, March 7.

Seven Voltes and three friends were among the evening’s finishers.

Jerritt Park led our group with a 20:32 but yielded the overall to Volte friend Stoya Leydevant in 20:19.

Todd Hunter finishing up his second loop of the Barbara Bush parking lot in the first mile.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Todd Hunter and Rob Gay were next in 24:40 and 24:57, respectively.  

Rob was just a day removed from finishing The Woodlands Marathon – and showed no ill effects and reportedly posted one of his better times at the distance.

Somewhere underneath that smile, Rob Gay was really grimacing after running a marathon the day before, right?
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Coach Layton Gill ran with his son, Carson, and they finished together in 34:29.

Judith Albarran and Christopher Branch also both ran The Woodlands Marathon the day before and encouraged Carson a few steps behind in 34:47.

A pair of long-time friends of Volte – Debbie Tripp and Ken Johnson – finished in 42:57 and 43:56, respectively.

Rob Goyen could have renamed his San Felipe Shootout on Saturday, March 20, 2021 as the Murillo Go Round.  

Maybe a bit of a stretch, but the format of the Shootout was to first run a 5K, then a 10K and finish it up with a half marathon, which started close to noon.

Luis Murillo led the way with first place overall finishes in the 5K and half marathon with marks of 19:02 and 1:20:50 while taking second overall in the 10K in 40:38.

Brother Juan recorded times of 22:02 in the 5K, 47:05 in the 10K and 1:34:55 in the half marathon.

Father Jose ran the 10K in 1:00:45.

If you hear Randy Harris roll off a little “Roll Tide!” the next time you see him, it might be because he was at epicenter of Alabama fandom on Sunday, March 21, 2021 – Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

He was there to run the Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports Half Marathon.

A few years ago, Randy was selected to run the Athens Marathon from all the four-hour or better marathon finishers at the Chevron Houston Marathon as part of the two events’ exchange program.

While there, he met Glenn Dodd.

Glenn runs the half marathon in Tuscaloosa every year.

He recently, though, had quintuple bypass surgery, was just getting back to running and Randy went there to pace him the distance.

A hallmark of not only Randy’s personal character, but what we strive for here at Volte as well.

The two crossed the finish line in 2:31:11.

Well done, gentlemen!

Texas 10 Huntsville or Huntsville 10.  

Whatever you call it, Volte ran well – 13 runners, 10 age group placements.

One would have thought Oprah was at the finish line going, “You get a glass.  And you get a glass and YOU get a glass!”

Twelve of our closest Volte friends were there too – and half of them had holders for their favorite recovery beverage.

In the 5K, our good friends with the Tough Runners Club – Alvaro and Lusi Trejo – covered the distance in 26:19 and 31:16, respectively.  Alvaro was third in his age group.

They both have run all four races of the 2020-2021 Texas 10 Series.

Roger King beat his brother to the finish line by a minute in the 5-mile race.  Roger got in under 32 minutes in a time of 31:56, while Robert posted a mark of 32:56.

Running his second straight 5-miler in the Series was Jerritt Park, who won his age group in 35:23.

Coach Layton Gill’s first race of the Series saw him turning in a time of 43:10, while Diana Gayle and Trudy Regnier rounded out our Voltes with second and first place age group showings for their respective 47:06 and 49:55 efforts.

Erin Gowton led our friends with a third-place age group finish of 45:26.

Jon Walk finished in 49:53, bettering his time by almost a minute from 2018's race.

A minute behind was Jimmie Gowton in 50:53 as both he and his wife, Erin, have done all four 5-milers of the 2020-2021 Series.

Ray and Diana Sarno finished their third 5-miler of the Series together in a time of 58:36.  Ray won his age group.

Seven Hills Running Club’s Ken Johnson crossed his hometown finish line in 1:12:43.

In the marquee race, Darren Hadden won his age group, was the third fastest masters and sixth overall – including Volte’s fastest finisher – in 1:05:58.

Darren Hadden is just too excited about charging the hill to head back towards the finish line area.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Amanda Jenkins was hoping for her eighth career Texas 10 Series victory but was denied by COVID-19 racing protocols which saw Seabrook’s Melissa Bittick being declared the winner for the fastest overall time even though Jenkins was the first across the finish line in 1:06:34.

Amanda Jenkins is thinking, "Where there's a hill, there's a way."  Great job on second overall!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Capturing her second age group win in four Series races was Erika Sampson, who beat her closest competitor by almost five minutes in 1:16-even.

Rob Gay ran his first race of the 2020-2021 Series in a time of 1:16:29.

Going three-for-three on the podium this Series is Mayra Caamano.

After a pair of third-place finishes at Conroe and College Station, Mayra won her age group by almost three minutes with a time of 1:17:14.

Caamano ran the first two editions of Texas 10 Huntsville in 2013 and 2014 with times of 1:17:16 and 1:17:05, respectively.

Impressive to be able to toe the line on the same time seven years later!

Michael Gayle and Paul Roche rounded out our team in the 10-miler as they battled the double loop course in 1:31:37 and 1:48:05, respectively.

Our friends had excellent showings as well.

Mark Amann won his second straight Huntsville 10 and fourth Texas 10 Series race ever with a winning time of 56:35.

Second-place age group placements went to Kevin Baker and Rip Reynolds, respectively, in 1:07:08 and 1:08:26, while Cristina Grey finished in 1:28:25.

And a big shout-out to Carlos Rodriguez, Christopher Branch, Judith Albarran and George Roffe for their support at the race in Huntsville.  Much appreciated!

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Volte Salutes Its Volunteers and Marathoners at 10th Annual The Woodlands Marathon

Sixteen finishers.  Six PR’s.  Five BQ’s.  Two debuts.

Another good year for Volte at the tenth running of The Woodlands Marathon.

We are grateful that we all got to run The Woodlands and that the timing was such that we did not have an interruption in one of our favorite races annually.

A sage friend of ours, Jim Braden, from right here in The Woodlands, once said, “We’re all equal if we’re doing our best.”

We could not agree more, regardless of when any of our runners crossed the finish line.

And, of course, our athletes – as well as the other almost 4,000 finishers – benefitted from some of the volunteer efforts of our team.

They included Anita Register, coach Layton Gill, Ramon Rosales and Jimmy Baker and our founder Bill Dwyer, who headed up another great finish line experience for all athletes.

It was Dwyer's 10th year heading up the finish line and was joined by Barry Blanton and Roxanne Davis -- two of the community's elite volunteer leaders.

The former three made sure runners coming onto The Woodlands Waterway for their last couple of tenths of a mile got directed where they needed to go.

And out on the course, Deb Myers and Juan Flores led the Volte cheer squad to support our runners to a great day in The Woodlands Township.

Matthew 20:16 says “So the last shall be first, and the first last; for many be called, but few chosen.”

Let’s put it this way:  the last two people that would bring attention to themselves – twin brothers Roger and Robert King – were our first across the marathon finish line.

The tattoo is the only way to separate Roger King (499) from Robert (498)!
Either way, they're going to Boston after their debut at the marathon distance.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

A couple of Marines, if you have ever watched them run together, you’d swear they are still running in formation from the Corps.

It was their debut marathon and they made a splash in a big way.

Roger finished first in 3:02:06, while Robert was just seconds behind in 3:02:25.

Debut.  PR (obviously).  And BQs to boot.

The 39-year-old’s preparations were as disciplined as their service to our country.

Meanwhile, Juan Murillo’s road to a PR and a BQ was a bit different.

Juan Murillo is prepared - even more than the Marines - like a trail runner, but the big trail in his future is the one from Hopkinton to Boylston Street
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

The longer distance expert of the Murillo brothers, part of Juan’s buildup – well, just actually a bit of a healthy dose of regular mileage – included a hilly 54K at Running of the Rose in Tyler State Park in late January.

You think high mileage over time does not pay off?

Juan ran the 2013 The Woodlands Marathon in 3:44:53.  

He started to reveal where he could be three years ago in The Woodlands Half Marathon with a 1:44:13 followed up last year with a 1:34-even.

This year, he punched his ticket to Boston with a personal best time of 3:14:17.

With her third consecutive Boston Qualifier, Devyn Cook, 25, led all of our Volte females with a time of 3:16:56 that was just one spot off of the podium.

Three in a row now are the BQs for Devyn Cook
Here's she focused on the finish a quarter of a mile away!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Last year, Cook got her first BQ at the Chevron Houston Marathon with a 3:19:21 finish in her fifth attempt on the streets of the city of Houston.  Her second – and her PR to date – was at last year’s The Woodlands Marathon in 3:13:09.

After running the half at The Woodlands the last two years, Christopher Branch, 45, decided it was time to dial the marathon up here.

Going through the front half almost two minutes faster than his half marathon finishing time in 2020, he dialed it back some to still punch across the line with an impressive 3:32:12 showing.

“Sunshine” Mike Csikos finished his third The Woodlands Marathon with, of course, a smile.

One of the more thankful men that you'll ever meet, Mike Csikos has his priorities in the right directions - besides towards the finish line.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

A guy with one of the most pleasant dispositions you’ll ever come across, the 51-year-old covered the distance in 3:39:20.

After having so many marathons cancelled or called off at the last minute (aka BCS), Judith Albarran, 40, decided to give The Woodlands Marathon a go – even though her progression had come along in the half here.

In 2017, she finished in 2:01:04 and then further drove her half marathon times the last two years to 1:52:13 and 1:50:59, respectively.

And even though she PR’d with a 3:53:04, she had this to say about the day:

“Tough marathon in my opinion.  First time and last time,” she said.  “I’m sticking to the half at The Woodlands.  Personally I hate loops and it was a bit warm in the end.

“I was able to PR, not easy with cramps on calves and toes.”

In her sixth attempt at The Woodlands Marathon (in addition to a pair of half marathon finishes), Julie Stevenson was not only second in her 55-59 age group, but her 3:56:50 is sending her to the Boston Marathon.

Her times at The Woodlands event look like this:

2012 – 4:51:29 marathon (48)
2013 – 2:12:37 half marathon (49)
2014 – 5:09:26 marathon (50)
2016 – 4:20:45 marathon (52)
2018 – 4:24:03 marathon (54)
2019 – 1:59:32 half marathon (55)
2020 – 4:12:13 marathon (56)
2021 – 3:56:50 marathon (57)

Didn’t we see these guys – Tim Russell and Rob Gay – a few weeks ago at Rocky Raccoon?

Gay, 44, tuned up for the marathon with a half marathon at Rocky Raccoon while Russell did the 50K.

Russell, 50, finished his third The Woodlands Marathon in 4:15:53 after finishes in 2013 and 2015.  (He had four The Woodlands Half Marathons to boot.)  Rob was not too far behind in 4:22:17.

With his fourth The Woodlands Marathon in five years, 60-year-old Kim White finished in 4:24:10.

Faith Craig, 39, finished her third The Woodlands Marathon – alternating every other year back to 2017 – in 4:58:53.

It's now April and Andrew DeSimone still has that finisher's grin from his second career marathon finish.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Brittany Haddad, Mack Miller and Andrew DeSimone were all finishing their first The Woodlands Marathons this year.  

Haddad, 30, led the trio in with a time of 5:17:33.  Miller, 52, followed with a mark of 5:26:08 while DeSimone, 44, stopped the clock in 5:36:21.

With her third The Woodlands Marathon finish, Amada Becker, 35, completed our Volte athletes across the finish line in a time of 6:05:32.

Five of our Volte friends also finished this year’s marathon.  

They included:  Josh Rivas – 3:15:57, Terence Baptiste – 3:23:26, Jonathan Weishuhn – 3:29:52, Alejandro Bedoya – 4:05:52 and Thomas Thomson – 4:08:46.

X Marks The Spot of Volte's Showings in the 10K and Half of The Woodlands Marathon X

Volte was not quite Volte yet for the first running of the current version of The Woodlands Marathon, but ever since the event – now held over two weekends for the third straight year – has been one of the staples of our group.

While some of the names change some each year, our athletes annually help Volte deliver a community-focused, good running neighbor approach to endurance sports in The Woodlands, Spring and Montgomery County.

Almost 40 runners – 39, to be exact – and half as many folks that we identify as friends of Volte – crossed a common finish line along the iconic The Woodlands Waterway.

Much changed in our world since the ninth running of The Woodlands Marathon little more than a year ago now, but this year’s event – even with masks, spaced out start line corrals and DIY post-race festival – did not disappoint and brought another step closer to a sense of normalcy since we were all turned a bit upside down.

New this year was the 10K.

The 6.2-mile distance was popular with the original running of The Woodlands Marathon from the late 1970s into the early 1990s before the half marathon brought waves of runners to do longer distances.

Woods Edge Community Church’s Lead Pastor Jeff Wells, as he was winding down his competitive running career, was a frequent participant – and winner of the event in its earlier days.

Youth, however, was served up from Volte in its new rendering.

McCullough Junior High seventh grader Brayden Park, 13, won his age group as Maria Sanchez, 19, did hers while they posted times of 47:09 and 47:14, respectively.

Maria Sanchez was the 11th overall female in the inaugural The Woodlands Marathon 10K
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

A few friends joined in the fun, including Kevin Baker, who won his age division in 40:06, and two legends in our community – Jim Braden, 85, from The Woodlands and Huntsville’s Ken Johnson, 79.

Braden finished the 10K in 1:19:35 while Johnson came across the line in 1:30:04.

They were also the most experienced finishers of The Woodlands Double, having completed the 5K the Saturday before.

Both Luis Murillo and Amanda Jenkins had the honor of having elite bibs in the half marathon in their first individual appearance at a The Woodlands Marathon race.

The 37-year-old shorter distance savant of the Murillo family had one goal:  keep Jordan Hasay in sight.

No word if Hasay will bring Murillo to any of her future races, but he edged her across the finish line finishing four seconds ahead (gun time) of the women’s half marathon winner while posting a personal best half marathon time of 1:14:04.

Jenkins, who was starting a training cycle buildup after a demanding season coaching Cy-Fair High School’s girls in cross country, led all Volte females with a time of 1:26:51.

Grabbing our only podium spot was 46-year-old Darren Hadden as he finished second in 1:23:41 – a year after having to shut it down just beyond mile 11 with significant cramping.

Two years removed from a 2:24:43 finish where she started nine minutes back, Erika Sampson, 46, was less than two minutes away from climbing up on The Woodlands Half Marathon 45-49 podium with a smashing time of 1:37:14 – one place in front of Outrival Racing coach and athlete Dawn English.

Focused on the finish was Erika Sampson who wore the blue and orange proudly!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

It was another in a string of many personal records for the former University of Houston track and field athlete.

Running her fourth The Woodlands Half Marathon, and first since 2016, and at least her seventh individual event at The Woodlands Marathon, 43-year-old Mayra Caamano – who teamed up with Holly Benson, Bonnie Scholz and Meredith Moss for a second-place four-woman marathon relay finish last year -- dialed back the clock with a 1:40:29, which was just 30 seconds off her 2015 finish of 1:39:57.

Gourav Kumar, 38, and Jane Campbell, 39, made their The Woodlands Half Marathon debuts with marks of 1:43:38 and 1:49:27, respectively.  Kumar’s time was a personal best.

Kimberly Simmons now has four finishes at The Woodlands – three in the half and one marathon -- with her 1:50:32 performance that was good for sixth place in her 55-59 division between two community stalwarts in Karrie Bellard and Sharon Morin.

Simmons, 59, ran the half in 2018 and 2019 and the marathon last year.

Kristi Park, 40, finished her third The Woodlands Half Marathon in four years with a 1:52:35 showing, closing in on her husband Jerritt’s total of five (2015-2019).

Steven Sfeir sports one of our new Volte tops in his first The Woodlands Half Marathon.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Steven Sfeir, 35, and Maria Calloway, 33, like Kumar and Campbell, ran their first The Woodlands Half Marathons and both kept it under two hours with respective times of 1:54:42 and 1:57:26.  Sfeir’s mark was a new personal best for him.

And Calloway, who followed Sfeir on to The Woodlands Waterway, makes the other new Volte gear even better with a big smile!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Paolo Biagi, 49, and Tammy Grado, 52, have been training together for Ironman Texas for nearly a year so it was no surprise to see them cross together in 1:58:15.  

It was Grado’s sixth half marathon finish at The Woodlands, including the last five consecutive, while Biagi has five straight finishes – three in the half and two in the marathon.

Michael Gayle, 42, finished his second straight The Woodlands Half Marathon in 2:04:00.

Off the race course, 25-year-old Waverly Walk has been at The Woodlands Marathon twice before.

In the first two years of the marathon, in 2012-2013, as a high school junior and senior, Walk sang the National Anthem – and she returned to that role this year delivering a beautiful performance that some said echoed through the parking garages.

With the benefit of mostly consistent run training, aided by a year’s worth of personal training style workouts, Walk, also knowing that a friendly voice awaited at the finish line, made her The Woodlands Half Marathon debut an impressive one turning in a time of 2:06:47 – an almost five-minute shattering of her previous best 2:11:35.

One spot away from making the 70-74 age group podium was Jose Murillo with his time of 2:10:59 – his second straight The Woodlands Half Marathon finish.

Likewise was David Cain, 43, finishing his second straight The Woodlands Half Marathon, but he improved his 2:13:11 time from a year ago to post a new personal half marathon best of 2:11:46.

Diana Gayle, 35, also got on the PR bandwagon with a 2:11:59 time in her The Woodlands Half Marathon debut, while Rebecca Coates, 47, new to Volte, also ran the event for the first time and finished in 2:14:53.

Magnolia natives Emma Shinkins, 41, and Mary Lee Miller, 63, finished their second and third consecutive The Woodlands Half Marathons in 2:24:01 and 2:25:25, respectively.

Our Volte friends who finished the half marathon included the following:  Scott Moore – 1:24:05, Rip Reynolds – 1:27:33, Cesareo Arriaga - 1:29:38, Kahn Grice – 1:40:14, Will Ott – 1:42:02, Erika Park – 1:42:29, Pam Greene – 1:42:29, Cristina Gray – 1:55:19, Katerina Savelieva – 2:01:08, Erin Gowton – 2:16:12, Dan Jordan – 2:17:17, Susan Rouse – 2:17:17, Mariela Rodriguez – 2:32:50 and Jimmie Gowton – 2:34:35.

Rip Reynolds has run the half all ten years and his mark of 1:27:33 was his fastest at age 54.  All of his previous times were between 1:27:56 (last year) and 1:30:28 – an amazing mark of consistency.

William Ott now has seven The Woodlands Half Marathons to his credit.  His 1:42:02 was his best since his first half here in 2013, which was a mark of 1:35:57.

Running her friend Pam Greene of Houston back from injury and to second on the women’s 50-54 podium was Erika Park.  They ran together in a time of 1:42:29.  Park has run the half in The Woodlands three times – each time after a presidential election.  Go figure!

Katerina Savelieva finished her fifth The Woodlands Half Marathon.

Mongtomery’s Erin and Jimmie Gowton completed their eighth consecutive The Woodlands Half Marathons. 

It was Dan Jordan’s fifth straight year to run the half and Susan Rouse’s sixth.  Dan ran the marathon in 2014 while Susan did so in 2014 and 2015.