The Gazelle Foundation Run for the Water is all about raising awareness and funding for clean water projects in Burundi. That’s a given. But nobody said anything about rain, lightning and a little thunder tossed in for good measure.

As a wicked overnight cold front descended from the north on Sunday morning, the accompanying deluge and ferocious lightning across the Austin area was enough to delay the start of the Run for the Water 10-Miler and 5-K by 15 minutes to allow one last storm cell to pass over downtown. None of the nearly 4300 runners seemed to mind and most kept dry under the numerous tents set up on the S. 1st Street bridge.

But once that final blob of rain passed, the seventh running of the Run for the Water, the second race in the Austin Fit Magazine Distance Challenge, went on smoothly and without any impediment—except for the nearly 100 percent humidity.

“You thought it was humid?” asked David Fuentes. “I thought it was nice.”

Winners can say stuff like that. Fuentes, the 26-year-old former St. Ed’s star, won the Run for the Water for the second year in a row and in the process set a PR of 49:07, more than a minute faster than what he ran last year by himself in cooler, dryer conditions.

But this year, Fuentes had plenty of company in the person of his Team Mizuno teammate Rory Tunningley. The former UT star by way of Lockhart, Tunningley was running his first major road race and only had one out-of-the-way 5-K road race under his belt.

But Tunningley, 23, who has been loading up on miles as he preps for the USA Half Marathon Champs in Houston in January and the Austin Half in February, was ready to roll and challenge “the old guy” as he referred to Fuentes.

The two went toe to toe for the first flat easy miles along Cesar Chavez and Lake Austin Boulevard before entering the Scenic hills past the 3-mile mark. Here, Tunningley maintained a slight lead on Fuentes going up the hills with Erik Stanley holding onto third.

“Rory looked strong,” said Fuentes who was biding his time until the five-mile mark and the turn south on Pecos and the downhills. “My coach {Derek Williamson} wanted me to run a little bit conservatively for the first five miles and then if I felt good, to go for it.”

Fuentes, who set a 5-k PR last week In 14:27, must have felt great because he followed Williamson’s game plan perfectly.

He quickly gapped Tuningley on the first few ups and downs on Pecos and by the time they had reached Exposition with three miles to go, the race was all his.

“I feel like I’m on a pretty good roll. All the miles I’ve been running are paying off. I’m a lot stronger than last year,” said Fuentes whose future plans include the Cross-Country Nationals and then the USA Half Champs in Houston and the Austin Half which he has won twice.

In the finish back on the S. 1st Street Bridge, Fuentes’ PR of 49:07 topped Tunningley by 50 seconds (49:57). Erik Stanley, who held third through the early going, lost it on some of the Pecos hills and dropped all the way back to eighth, but somehow recovered in the final two miles to recapture third in 50:55. His Rogue teammates took the next five spots with Matt Cleaver (51:00), Jeff Sadler (51:13), Austin Busing (51:15), Devin Monson (51:53) and Carl Stones (51:55). David Edwards was ninth in 52:02 and Rio Reina interrupted a 100-mile training week to take 10th in 52:37.

First masters runner of the day was 41-year-old Derek Wood who was 28th overall with a time of 1:01:54. Jim Fitzpatrick, also 41, was right behind in 1:02:02 and 49-year-old Larry Bright took third in 1:02:23. Making his masters debut was Joseph Kozusko who nailed fourth in 1:03:53.

The first 50+ was Scott McIntyre, 51, who ran 1:04 to finish ahead of newly minted 50-year-old Jim Clearly in 1:06:14. Michael Woo, 51, was third in 1:06:35.

The women’s race wasn’t nearly as competitive as the men’s as 25-year-old Tia Martinez (Kool) was absolutely dominant. With two-time defending champ Betzy Jimenez in Denver, Martinez was off by herself.

“Steve {her Rogue coach, Steve Sisson} wanted me to go out a little slower than I actually did,” said Martinez, “but I just felt so good that 5:30 miles felt comfortable. I was running with Marc Bergman for the first four or five miles, but once we made the turn onto Pecos I had a little bit of a cramp and backed off a bit. Once that passed, I got back into it pretty well.”


Martinez flew down the Pecos hills and even passed Alex Moore, a former collegiate runner at A&M, to win in 55:30 which is a course record on the newly reconsituted 10-miler course. (Jimenez ran 58:48 last year.) Even better, this was only Martinez’ third 10-mile race but her time on Sunday bettered her time in her last one—the 1020 race in April—by an astounding four minutes.

“I’m running so much better now,” said Martinez, “because I’ve been healthy for so long and able to train harder—and smarter. This race indicates to me I’m on the right track.”

Next up on her fast track is the San Jose (California) Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day and then the Cross-Country Nationals where her goal is a top 10 finish and a possible spot on a USA national team which would be her first.

Finishing a distant second was Mia Behm, the former UT runner, who crossed the line in 57:28. Sarah Pease, a former Indiana University All Big 10 runner, was third in 58:14 and Mary Goldkamp, from Bradley University, who ran the steeple in the ’12 Olympic Trials, was fifth in 59:49.

First masters woman of the morning was Chris Kimbrough, 43, running just her second race since the birth of her sixth child (Layne) in May. Kimbrough was a bit disappointed she wasn’t more competitive, but settled for 1:03:46 on a steamy morning. Jennifer Fisher, 46, was second in 1:06:32, Carmen Troncoso, 54, was just along for the ride, but still finished third in 1:09:57. Ivi Kerrigan, Estonia’s gift to Austin, was fourth in 1:11:42.

Among the women, age group winners were April Wells (45-49) in 1:14:14; the remarkable Anne Hughes (50-54) in 1:13:27; Leslie Stevens (55-59) in 1:19:56); Candace Grant (60-64) in 1:18:23; Kit Ogburn (60-64) in 1:56:58 and Sherryl Brown (70-74) in 1:49:29.

Other age group winners: Greg Baxter (55-59) in 1:09:57; Richard Carpenter (60-64) in 1:04:46 and Scott Beachy (65-69) in 1:19.

Of special note, the ageless Dick Wilkowski—the man in black—won the 70-74 age group in 1:29:14 on his 70th birthday.

In the accompanying 5-K, Ben Treweek (16:26) won easily over Kip Chemirmir (17:16) and Ryan Camarillo (17:28). Karen Saenz dusted all the women in 18:48, including Sarah Mark (18:54) and Jordan Mathis (20:09) who, by the way, is all of 11 years old.

Next up in the Austin Fit Magazine Distance Challenge is the venerable Decker Challenge Half Marathon on December 8th at the Travis County Expo Center.