Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Houston Marathon Weekend Puts Foot on Volte's Gas Pedal for 2024

One of the biggest events each year for Volte - since its inception in August 2012  - is the Chevron Houston Marathon weekend.

Some of the names and faces each year may be new, but the spirit and excitement of another year of racing, running, walking and maintaining and/or improving our fitness is always something to rally around.

Exactly forty of our athletes competed in one or more of the weekend's events, in addition to a little more than 30 of our Volte friends.

But before we go through this year's hit parade, the Reeds took on the Mammoth Ice Age 5K and 10K in Granbury on Saturday, January 13.

Chris had an efficient, ho-hum kind of 5K, finishing first in his age group in 21:20.

Stephanie, well, was assigned additional adventure opportunities in the 10K.

The website says, "The course will be an OUT and BACK utilizing the scenic and PAVED Hike and Bike City Trail."

See the emphasis on "out", "back" and "paved"?

"I was second overall until they told some of us to go the wrong way," reported Stephanie.  "After three stops and climbing over a fence, I made it back with almost a mile over.

She also won her age group and our head coach Bill Dwyer offered his congratulations on her new 11.5-mile kilometer personal best.

One of our Volte friends, Ken Johnson, ran the Spindle Tree park run 5K #105, also on Saturday, January 13, and did so in 50:55.  He was one of 11 runners 80 years of age or older who finished one of 43 United States parkruns last Saturday.

It was Ken's fifth race of the year.  He's ahead of our Jerritt Park so far in 2024.  :-)

Five Volte athletes - and a trio of friends - ran the We Are Houston 5K on Saturday, January 13 that is a lead-up to the Chevron Houston Marathon and the Aramco Houston Half Marathon the following day.

And all but one of the combined eight were running for the Double medal for completing one of the Sunday races too.

Paolo Biagi led our Voltes in a time of 23:55, followed by Lillian Evans' 26:40 and Mike Kuykendall's 36:44. 

Jennifer Vieira and Sherry Cameron rounded out our team with times of 38:52 and 48:20, respectively.

Our friends C. Stephenson-Lake and Jetola Anderson-Blair posted marks of 23:14 and 25:19, while the legend, Jim Braden, 88 years young (and the oldest with Lake Jackson's Max Royalty to run the race), finished in 49:14.

It was the fifth straight year - not counting 2021 for COVID - that Jim completed the We Are Houston 5K (2018-2019, 2022-2024) after finishing half marathons in 2016-2017 at the ages of 81 and 82.  He also ran the Chevron Houston Marathon 20 times since 1985 with his debut coming at 49.

In the Aramco Houston Half Marathon, Volte had 19 athletes and 13 friends finish the race on Sunday, January 14.

Lu gliding along to a sub-1:10 Aramco Houston Half Marathon
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Lu Bouanga, a week removed from the win at Texas 10 Bridgeland, broke 1:10 with a dazzling time of 1:09:48.  

Stopping the clock under an hour and a half were Robert King and Jane Cardnell.  Robert finished in 1:26:54, while Jane went across the finish line in 1:29:41.

Breaking 1:40 were George Orebe and Laura Faria while Jason Bodie was just outside of the standard.

George finished in 1:35:52 as Laura was third in her age group in 1:37:52.  Jason led the way in the 1:40 bracket with a time of 1:41:14 while Santiago Alvarez slipped under 1:50 in 1:49:41.

Another group of four kept it under two hours, led by Paolo Biagi's 1:51:26.

Tammy Grado led the trio of ladies with a time of 1:54:07 that made her an Aramco Houston Half Marathon legacy runner with her tenth career finish. 

Kyley Hampton was next across the line in 1:56:07, followed by Lillian Evans in 1:59:10.

Tricia Murphy finished her first Aramco Houston Half Marathon since she was 17 years old in 2008 with a nice time of 2:11:38.

Waverly Walk as happy as a lark on her way to the finish in the Aramco Half
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Posting her 26th career half marathon finish - and her first at Aramco Houston since her very first half marathon in 2006 as a 10-year-old - was Waverly Walk

Her 2:18:41 was the seventh best all-time of those 26 finishes.

Elyse Diaz, Taryn Jordan and Eunice Allen all finished their first ever Aramco Houston Half Marathon with times of 2:25:06, 2:29:20 and 2:35:39, respectively.

Pacing a friend, Devyn Cook also ran her first Aramco Houston Half - in 2:39:43 - to go along with her seven Chevron Houston Marathon finishes between 2016-2023.

Mike Kuykendall capped off his Double with his tenth Aramco Houston Half Marathon finish in 2:40:37, while Sherry Cameron checked off her 11th Aramco finish in 2:51:13.

Thirteen Volte friends also ran the Aramco Houston Half Marathon.  Their finishes looked like this:

Stoya Laydevant – 1:27:14 - Third in age group - 7th Aramco finish.  First as a 10-year-old in 2017 in 2:24:18.
Rip Reynolds – 1:32:42 - 12th Aramco finish
Mark Poole – 1:32:59 - Best of three career Aramco finishes
Sonia Dhodapkar – 1:40:18 - 9th Aramco finish and second-best all-time

Mia Cieslar – 1:41:32 - Best of three career Aramco finishes
Meri Laydevant – 1:50:07 - 5th Aramco finish
Erika Park – 1:58:05 - 8th Aramco finish; Paced her 12-year-old daughter to her 2nd career Aramco
Scott Cohen – 2:00:21 - Debut

Cristina Gray - 2:16:00 - 4th Aramco finish
Erika Lawton – 2:29:01 - 4th Aramco finish
Melissa Holloway -  2:37:12 - 2nd and best Aramco finish
Paul Roche – 2:44:04 - 7th Aramco finish after running 30 Chevron Houston Marathons
Lusi Trejo – 3:04:47 - 3rd Aramco finish

Twelve of our 20 Chevron Houston Marathoners broke four hours with four Boston Qualifiers - one of which was their first qualifier ever, specifically Urica Chevis.

Andrew was 84 seconds from breaking three hours in the marathon!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

After running 1:37:13 in last year's Aramco Half, Andrew Carrillo led us with a time of 3:01:23.

Following him across the finish line was Andres Vargas, less than two weeks removed from winning the half marathon at Kingwood on New Year's Day. 

He smashed his previous Chevron Houston Marathon best of 4:14:15 four years ago with a nice round time of 3:23:00.

Mike D'Errico finished in 3:27:20 in his Chevron debut, followed closely by Christopher Branch in 3:29:16 - his fifth Chevron finish, including the 2021 virtual event.

Boston reconnaissance will commence in earnest for Urica Chevis as she'll be in Beantown in 2025
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer) 

Urica Chevis is heading to Boston after throwing down a time of 3:35:27 in her sixth Chevron Houston Marathon finish.

Her first one was just six years ago.  That time?  5:15:54.  She knocked on the door four years ago in 3:49:27, but this year she kicked it in.

Beto Alvarez ran 3:35:30 in his second-ever Chevron Houston Marathon, beating last year's time of 3:37:18, followed by Christine Hobeika's fifth Houston finish, this time in 3:43:00.

Cristopher Drummond turned in his best time of 15 Chevron Houston Marathon finishes in 3:45:27, bettering his 3:47:16 from 2018.

Running his third Chevron Houston Marathon was Roger King, who finished in 3:46 even while helping Volte teammates all along the course.

Coming in from out of town to finish his eighth Chevron Houston Marathon was Randy Harris, who posted his first time in a new age group in 3:51:40.  He was 47th out of 199 finishers.

As they passed our Nine Volte at mile 20, Kim White had a brief lead on his wife, Julie, but she got a few extra steps on him in the last 10K to finish with a Boston qualifying time of 3:51:02 - her best of eight Houston finishes.  

Her previous best was two years ago in 4:16:42 as she was also sixth of 58 finishers in her age division.

Kim just missed bettering his best time at Houston from two years ago - 3:53:09 - with a time of 3:54:15.  He was just three spots back in the same division of Randy.

Running Chevron Houston for just the second time (in addition to seven Aramco finishes), Sandra Tezino finished in 4:02:39, just a couple of minutes ahead of Judith Albarran's time of 4:06 even - her eighth career Houston finish.

Trey Taylor stopped the clock in 4:19:13 for his second career Houston finish.

With her 39th career Chevron Houston Marathon finish, Susan Rouse continues to hold on to second place among all females on the race's all-time list.  

She bettered last year's time by a couple of minutes, finishing in 4:48:16 -- 11 minutes a mile right on the nose.

Her race didn't go exactly how she had hoped it would, but Cheryl Edwards still had a sunny disposition as she took 22 minutes off of her previous Chevron Houston Marathon time of 5:13:44 from two years ago with a showing of 4:51:02.

Nita Shinde completed her third Houston in 4:59:10, followed by Neven Krstulovic-Opara's fifth Houston finish - and first since 2008 - in 5:39:45.

And Jennifer Vieira completed her first Chevron Houston Marathon in 5:43:13 after running the Aramco Houston Half the last two years in 2:47:06 and 2:55:54.  Nicely done.
Seventeen (17) Volte friends also ran the Chevron Houston Marathon.  Their finishes looked like this:

Dawn Spoljaric – 3:29:31 - BQ - Sixth and best Houston Marathon finish, bettering 3:46:25 from 2022.
Josh Rivas – 3:32:37 - 14th career Houston finish
Meghan Najera – 3:37:26 - Fourth Houston finish.  Other three?  3:32:19, 3:34:55 and 3:33:18 (2019).  Consistent.
Terence Baptiste – 3:41:48 - 11th consecutive Houston finish

John Nguyen – 3:46:25 - Sixth and best Houston Marathon finish, beating 3:49:15 from 2018.
Jetola Anderson-Blair – 3:56:44 - BQ - Ninth and second best Houston Marathon finish.  Started in 2012 with a time of 5:00:23.
C. Stephenson-Lake – 4:03:22 - 7th career Houston finish
Justin Massingill – 4:15:30 - 4th career Houston finish (to go with four Aramco finishes)

Sabina Lorca – 4:16:25 - 14th career Houston Marathon finish
Gloria Cedeno – 4:21:01 - 2nd career Houston Marathon finish, bettering her time of 4:22:04 from last year
Reggie Bruhn – 4:27:39 - Ran the marathon for the first time in six years after running 13 years in a row from 2006 to 2018.
Richard Tong – 4:35:17 - 5th career Houston Marathon finish

Lorena Rowell – 4:35:54 - 3rd consecutive Houston Marathon finish
Kahn Grice – 4:51:29 - 16th career Houston Marathon finish, with his first one coming back in 1996!
Vincent Attanucci – 5:27:15 - 17th career Houston Marathon finish
Ruth Perez – 5:46:02 - 6th career Houston Marathon finish, and her first in five years!
Andy Brock – 5:52:02 - 20th career Houston Marathon finish

So, with that, who's ready to run The Woodlands?  :-)

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

2024 Begins With Lots of Miles and Smiles from Voltes and Friends

Happy New Year, Volte Nation - and friends!

Volte kicked off the New Year in four different places on New Year's Day - Magnolia, Houston, Kingwood (heck, that's actually Houston thanks to the annexers) and Missouri City.

Jose Murillo, his son, Juan and Mimi Torres all started running on Saturday, December 30 in the Snowdrop Ultra 55 Hour event.

Jose was third overall, covering 169.85 miles, while Juan did yeoman's work with 141.54 miles and Mimi didn't go any further than she needed to to earn her third Snowdrop belt buckle with 100.11 miles.

Shout-out to our friend from Woodlands Fit, Carla Valles, who also called it a day or two at 100.11 miles.

At 7:30 that morning, Volte friends Randall Ivins, Vincent Attanucci and Jon Walk all ran the 103rd edition of the Spindle Tree parkrun 5K.

Randall finished in 27:15, while Vincent and Jon followed in 29:45 and 30:34, respectively.

A half-hour later in Kingwood, Trudy Regnier and George Roffe - with Volte friends Jetola Anderson-Blair and Gretchen Dixon - kicked off their journey of new Greenbelt trails as part of the Texas Marathon.

Trudy and George ready to attack the Greenbelt Trails in Kingwood
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

Twenty years prior, 2004, at the Kingwood Marathon, was when George met Volte founder Bill Dwyer.

Trudy was first in her age group in 5:42:11 while George stopped the clock in 6:00:13.

From our friends, Jetola won her division in 4:18:40 and Gretchen finished in 5:10:19.

In the Texas Half Marathon, which got underway at 8:15 a.m., our Andres Vargas was first overall with a shiny 13-minute personal best time of 1:31:24.

Andres Vargas goes first in the Texas Half Marathon!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

It was a homecoming of sorts for Andres as he is a member of the church that is associated with St. Martha Catholic School, the start and finish venue for the race.

Volte friend C. Stephenson-Lake was first in her age group in 1:47:39.

Lots of friends - and a couple of Voltes - ran Ron Stitt's Vintage Park New Year's Day Classic 5K and 10K.

Paolo Biagi and Tammy Grado both earned podium spots with 5K marks of 23:59 and 26:10, respectively, for third and first.  

Three of our friends won their age group in the 5K - Isabel Burbano-Bedoya in 23:56, Jill Cassidy in 24:15 and Christina Gray in 27:10. 

Paul Blutt, even while pacing another runner, snagged third place in his division in 25:38.

A pair of friends ran the 10K -- Mark Amann took first overall in 34:14 while Nicolle Winger was third in hers in 47:57.

This past weekend, Saturday, January 6, we once again got started at the Spindle Tree jogging trail for parkrun #104.  Our friend Randall Ivins was the run director and Rylie Park was one of the volunteers.

Kristi Park won her fourth all-time parkrun with a winning time of 25:11, while her husband Jerritt, who ran 114 races in 2023, was second overall in 21:15.

Volte friends Jon Walk, Vincent Attanucci and Ken Johnson - just under 3,000 races between the three of them - also competed.

Jon set his personal best time at Spindle Tree - of 10 appearances there - in 29:57, while Vincent and Ken recorded times of 30:39 and 50:32, respectively.

Lillian Evans won her age group in the Run Houston! Sam Houston Race Park 5K in 26:22.

Also on Saturday morning, January 6, was the Brazos Bend Trail Run that got moved from Needville to Cat Spring and the 7IL Ranch due to potential rainy weather.

Julia Di Paolo and Cathy Sargent from the Volte walking team navigated the ranch in the half marathon and finished within 22 seconds of each other as Julia crossed first in 3:35:57.

Second overall in the 100-mile race was Ramon Rosales, finishing in 18 hours, 27 minutes and 35 seconds.

Then we had good groups of runners closing out the first full week of the year at the Texas 10 Series Bridgeland event in Cypress.

Our friends ruled the 5K as Randall Ivins won his age group in 25:26 and Jimmie Gowton finished in 46:58.

Moving to the 5-miler, Mike Kuykendall was second in his division in 55:55.  (Buy a lottery ticket, Mike, with that time!)

Hardware was plentiful for our friends too.

Adrienne Neal was first overall in 33 minutes even.  Dawn Spoljaric was first in her age group in 34:53 while Erin Gowton was second in hers in 42:24.

Jon's first time back at the five-mile distance since the 2020-2021 Texas 10 Series season earned him a third-place finish in 49:24. 

(At the awards ceremony, he was recognized as a second place finisher, but Ben Castillo, who was one of the bike leads, ran the five-mile course after riding and knocked Jon down a spot - something a few other people would like to do!)

Ken Johnson was second in his division in 1:19:28.

In the marquee 10-mile race, Lu Bouanga gladly cashed another of Willie Fowlkes' checks - to the tune of $150 - with a winning time of 56:19.

Lu smiling because there's money at the finish line for finishing first!
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

It would have been $225, but Volte friend Mark Amann made it to the five-mile split less than a half second in front of Lu to snag the $75 prime and was second overall in 56:53.

Volte friends Rip Reynolds and C. Stephenson-Lake crossed the line next in 1:11:58 and 1:16:29, respectively, for third place age group and first women's master.

Our Jerritt Park was second in his age group in 1:17:26.

Volte's Kate Semmelrogge-Thomas made the 45-minute drive from her home in Pittsburg, California to San Francisco for the Hot Chocolate 10K - which comes to Houston in three weeks. 

She finished in 1:23:41.

A good hearty turnout was had for the Sunday Night 5K at Barbara Bush Elementary School in The Woodlands.

Christopher Branch was first in 23:40, while the Park family followed in the next three spots -- Jerritt in 24:14, Riley in 24:23 and Kristi in 24:45.

Volte friend Edson Jones was next in 25:14 followed by Trey Taylor in 27:39, Paolo Biagi in 30:04 and Tammy Grado in 30:33.

Two blondes out for a run - Tammy Grado and Trey Taylor - take on the Sunday Night 5K
(Photo courtesy of Bill Dwyer)

We had three Sunday Night 5K visitors from Spindle Tree parkrun as Angela Canning, Sarah Banks and Isobelle Hatrick all finished in 32:24. 

Isobelle is in charge of the entire Spindle Tree parkrun operation.

Chris Branch's daughter, Cara, ran the course in 42:45 followed by Ken Johnson in 49:20.

All of this sets up Volte and our friends for a big day this coming weekend at the Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon.