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.

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