Sunday, April 4, 2021

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.

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