Sunday, April 11, 2021

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. 

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