Ali Mendez didn’t think she was going to be able to chase down Cythnia Jerop of Grand Prarie (by way of Kenya) for just shy of 9.5 miles at the third annual Austin 10/20. But after keeping Jerop in her sights and within range the entire race – never trailing by more than 10 seconds – the 25-year-old member of Rogue Athletic Club surged and took over first place to claim victory in 56:45.
“I asked her mid-way through the race if ten seconds was worth $1,000,” according to coach Steve Sisson, referring to the prize money that she could take home.
Typically the Kenyan runners (six were at the starting line) who show up for these type of shorter distances go out hard and see who can hold on the longest, but after the first couple miles down Burnet it was only Jerop (winner of Woodlands Half Marathon in early March) and Mendez.
“She kept a distance between us and I just never thought the gap was going to close,” said Mendez. “It wasn’t until mile 9 that she started coming to me and then I just went for it and was able to pass her.”
Her final haul for the morning for less than an hour of running was $4,100 – $3000 for first place, a 20 percent bonus for being from Travis County ($600), and another $500 for being the first local finisher.
In the men’s race, defending champion Simon Ndirangu let 29-year-old MacDonald Ondara fight the wind for the majority of the race before putting on the kick that his Kenyan foe couldn’t match. Ndirangu’s time of 47:17 was just two seconds off his winning time from 2013.
There were two different races going on in the men’s run with such an elite field of African runners showing up – the overall prize money and the Travis County prize money that Race Director Peter Douglass put up for the first five male and female finishers.
Former UT standout Rory Tunningley of Team Mizuno led from the beginning and never looked back, blistering through the first five miles in a 5:10/mile pace and holding off Erik Stanley by 30 seconds for 10th overall and top local. Moses Luevano was third in 55:08.
On the women’s side, Mendez took first local runner. Danielle Burke (64:04) came in second and Sarah Madebach (65:05) third.
Top Master’s runner of the day was 40-year-old Sammy Kiplagat in 52:06. Ait Nouh Mohamed of El Paso second with a 61:52 and 56-year-old John Potts of Georgetown third in 64:54.
Two-time Olympic marathoner Liza Hunter-Galvan finished fourth overall but was also the first 40-plus female, taking home a nice $1,000 check for her 59 minutes, 48 seconds of work. Catherine Cavazos of McAllen came in a distant second in 72:31 with Michelle Ryan rounding out the top three in 73:20.
More than 5,000 runners showed up to run in the 3rd annual Austin 10/20 at the Domain. Temps in the low 60’s brought somewhat muggy conditions but a slight breeze from the east helped keep wind chill down in the mid-50’s.
Next on the TexasRunningPost.com spring racing circuit is the Silicon Labs 5k & 10k Sunshine Run on April 27th in downtown Austin.
Full results available HERE.
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