Thursday, October 14, 2021

Volte Put All Hands On Deck For Historic Race Weekend

This weekend, perhaps one of the most historic here in our endurance sports community with Ironman Texas, the Chicago Marathon and the Boston Marathon on three consecutive days, was a total Volte team effort.

While we had our athletes and friends competing in each of these major events, there was a lot of support and love shown to all of them.

From being an athlete's sherpa to chalking up a few sidewalks.

From handing out water in an aid station to banging a drum (wait, we weren't embedded with Hippie Hollow, were we?)

Alright, maybe then putting up a tent on Sunday morning.

From fixing one's hair (yes, this was a pre-race thing on Saturday) to giving a COVID-safe fist bump or even safer, a hearty cheer.

Luke said, "... For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required:  and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."

We've all been given very much and many exercised all they had this past weekend.

Early in the day Saturday at Barry Blanton's "Some Like It Hot!" run course aid station, an Ironman Texas volunteer came by to check on his daughter-in-law and grandson, who were both helping out there.

He's an athlete who has done - and seen - it all.

From finishing the Western States 100 and winning his age group at Kona in the same calendar year (1990) to running both the 5K and 10K this year at The Woodlands Marathon at the age of 85, Jim Braden once shared some sage advice with this scribe that I thought might be appropriate here.

He shared once, "We're all equal if we're doing our best."

Fate and circumstances could have clouded the look in from the outside as failure.  

However, within that prism of "doing our best", failure - in the eyes of Volte - was nowhere to be found.

Volte is a group of runners, right?  

But some destined to write another chapter in our group's history to join Landa Wright as a Volte Ironman.

And in what might have been the longest preparation for an Ironman on record, after COVID cancelled Ironman Texas last year, teased an October move to Waco and then slammed out of this past April by Harris County, our four Ironman-seeking athletes - Paolo Biagi, Tammy Grado, Yaya Herrera and Gabby Westbrook - persevered in their chance to navigate the dirty waters of Lake Woodlands with many new acquaintances from around Texas, US and lesser than 2019, the world.

However, the man-made lake, which was excavated in 1984 and saw its official opening in 1985, figuratively challenged our athletes like the ships tossed at sea in Shakespeare's "The Tempest".

Gabby Westbrook showing her love to supporters from the Hardy Toll Road
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Gabby led us out of the water in 1:44:13, followed by Yaya in 1:48:43, Tammy in 2:01:37 and Paolo in 2:22:15.

The lake didn't spit Paolo out into transition until two minutes and 15 seconds after the mandatory cut off time for the swim portion of the event had passed.

However, Ironman race officials would allow Paolo to continue, but his eventual finish would be official to him - and in our hearts and minds.

After logging so many training miles together, it almost seemed like they were riding the course together when you looked at the team's bike times.

Yaya Herrera has her own machine to navigate down the Hardy Toll Road
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Yaya covered the 112 miles in 7:02:50, while Paolo and Gabby followed in times of 7:08:36 and 7:09:36, respectively.

And that left Tammy, stranded on the Hardy Toll Road.

Through the 19.5 mile checkpoint, Tammy was averaging 14.62 miles per hour, according to Ironman's tracker app.

She was told by an Ironman official, after having to stop as a result of some nausea, that she had to be off the bike course by a certain time, which wouldn't be possible to make.  However, after vacating the course, Tammy realized that it was really that she needed to be at mile 80 by that time -- a big difference that cost her the opportunity to continue.

While she was unable to continue, Yaya, Gabby and Paolo advanced to the run course where Yaya led the way with a 4:47:08 marathon followed by Paolo's 5:24:46 and Gabby's 5:49:04.

Overall, Yaya finished in 14:00:07, Gabby in 15:08:57 and Paolo in 15:12:15.

Volte friend Shannon Truman, who logged many, many training miles with our crew -- and who all trained under the guidance of Sandra Sutherland's TXTRI leadership, finished in 12:41:14 with a 1:24:26 swim, 6:07:47 bike and 4:45:51 run.

While our friends were going long in The Woodlands on Saturday, October 9, 2021 the Murillo family competed in the Mission Tejas Trail Run in Grapeland.

Luis took second overall in the 25K in 2:19:46 while Juan finished the 50K in 5:37:18 and their father Jose went the same distance in 7:48:53.

Galveston played host to Michael Gayle and Scott and Leticia Haney Saturday morning as they ran in the Galveston Island Brewing Co 5K Beer Run, which was primarily along the Galveston Seawall.

Am sure there were a few yarns spun during this race between Michael Gayle and Scott Haney
(Photo courtesy of Run In Texas)

Michael outsprinted Scott to the finish by five seconds as he posted a nice time of 26:43 for third in his 40-49 year old age group, keeping Scott off the podium.  

Leticia also missed the podium, like her husband, by one spot with a time of 30:53.

It seems kind of simple, but only a marathoner can understand finishing a marathon easily.

Our Christopher and Stephanie Reed did just that on Sunday, October 10, 2021 at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

After bagging their Boston qualifiers at Tunnel Light Marathon last month, the couple - with Christopher running his second marathon ever - accomplished their goals of running the race together, taking in the event, not getting in a hurry and enjoying.

They ran through the first half in 1:59:45 and finished together in a time of 4:16:33.

At Sunday's Cypress 10 Miler, the second race of the 2021-2022 Texas 10 Series, we had athletes - and friends - who competed in all three of the Series' distances -- the 5K, the 5-miler and the marquee 10-mile distance.

If you weren't here at Texas 10 Cypress, we missed you!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Coach Layton Gill got the fun started with a seventh place overall finish in the 5K in 25:17, while Coach Rich Cooper was the first one across the line for us in the 5-miler in 48:33 - and in a tough 50-59 division.

Randy Bradley led all of our Volte friends in the five-miler in 55:12, followed by Ray and Dianna Sarno who ran together in 59:09 and Ken Johnson in 1:20:33.

In the 10-miler, Darren Hadden led us with a fourth place overall finish - second men's master - in 1:05:50 while Jerritt Park and Rob Gay crossed the line next in 1:13:46 and 1:22:36, respectively.

Winning her age group in her first ever 10-miler was Maria Sanchez, who did so with a time of 1:25:02, and was followed by Kyley Hampton in a time of 1:34:07.

Todd Hunter rounded out our crew with a planned pedestrian finish of 2:02:24.

Leading our Volte friends was overall winner Mark Amann, who won his ninth Texas 10 Series race and seventh straight, as he stopped the clock in 57:16 followed by Lou Bouanga, who was second overall in 1:00:34.

Paul Blutt continued the glasswear grab as he finished second in his 40-44 age grop in 1:10:51, while Erin Gowton took second in her age group in 1:35:05 and her husband Jimmie ran well with a mark of 1:50:47.

Then, of course, on Monday, there was Boston.

The 125th running.
Houston commissioned a couple of spies to Fenway to put a hex on the Red Sox.
Only time will tell if it worked.
(Courtesy of Roger or Robert King)

Roger King led our parade down Boylston, finishing in 3:27:18 and was the first of the four first-time Boston finishers from our group.

After a pair of qualifiers at The Woodlands Marathon, Devyn Cook finally fulfilled a goal she had since she started running in 2008 to run the Boston Marathon, coming away with a time of 4:04:27.

Fourth timer showing the first timer how to celebrate post-race at Boston.
Congratulations, ladies!
(Photo courtesy of Laura Godfrey)

Sandra Tezino and Laura Godfrey were the next two as they journeyed to Boston for the fourth straight race, starting in 2017, and ended with times of 4:13:44 and 4:23:27, respectively.

Robert King and Trudy Regnier, who both got into this year's race late in the game, finished in 4:24:12 and 5:23:59, respectively.

Early Saturday morning, Chris Branch and Judith Albarran got their virtual Boston Marathon completed - before Monday's main event -  in 4:43:23 and 4:55:35, an easy long run that came with a few stops mixed in to cheer for Ironman Texas competitors, while Carrie Hyde got hers done, eh, in Canada in 4:58:10.

Four of our Volte friends were all close together in time in Boston on Monday.

Volte friend Erika Park is all smiles after a sub-3:30 Boston.
(Photo courtesy of Erika Park)

Erika Park was running her last Boston Marathon.  She finished her fourth Boston, including a virtual one a year ago, in 3:29:53, which bettered her debut Boston time of 3:41:49 in 2017.

Terence Baptiste bettered his 2019 debut time of 3:44:05 in Boston with a fine showing on Monday of 3:34:18.

Running in Beantown for the very first time was Josh Rivas, who was one of 77 BQs at March's The Woodlands Marathon to finish Boston this year and left Massachusetts with a time of 3:42:06.

And Sonia Dhodapkar, who ties the tongues of most race announcers, finished her third career Boston Marathon in 3:46:05.

The best we save for last.

A great friend to our founder and scribe - and who is more involved in endurance sports than just about anybody you can think of - completed an Ironman Texas and Boston Marathon double this weekend.

Waco's Nancy Goodnight, who is the race director of the Miracle Match Marathon there and just a force of nature, completed her 10th Ironman Texas - the only woman to do so - on Saturday in 12:03:33, winning her a Kona spot as she took her division.

Then she arrived just a little after midnight on Monday morning before proceeding to run a 3:41:44 marathon -- her 11th Boston and sixth IMTX/Boston double but the first time in reverse.

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