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Decker Challenge Dominated by New Arrivals, McCurdy and Marley

The 37th Annual Decker Challenge is the third oldest race in Austin, behind the ARC Daisy 5K and the venerable Capitol 10K.

The usual story of the Austin Runners Club Decker Challenge starts with the weather.  But as our resident Kiwi Keith Dowland said before the race “the runners are spoiled”.  44F, zero mph wind at 8am, this is not your usual Decker weather.  The only thing not forecast was the bright clear sky and sun, so it warmed quickly.  The race was set up well with pacers for times from 1:30 finish to 2:40 in 10 minute increments, wearing bright red ARC race singlets.  The race even accommodated training issues by allowing relatively late deferrals (up to one week before the race), either to the 2016 event (small charge) or to the Brown Santa 5K (free). This year the ARC asked runners to predict their overall times, for a new challenge.

The race started right on time, a tribute to President Iram Leon and VP and Race Director Elaine Chung.  And it went off flawlessly.  The venue in the Expo Hall was a warm place to meet runners before the race.

First overall male was relatively unchallenged.  Matt McCurdy, a 38 year old recent transplant from Clearlake in Houston, treated today’s run as a fast tempo. A 2:28:59 marathoner (Chicago 2014), McCurdy runs for Team Mizuno.  He ran Decker as part of an 85 mile week with no taper, passing the last challenger around mile 3.  He finished at 1:13:22.7, just 23 seconds off his predicted 1:13.  He is training for the Houston Marathon in January, looking to improve his Chicago PR.

Second place male, Joseph McCellon 34, cruised in at a fast 1:17:03.8, also all alone.

The real race was between 3rd and 4th.  Presenting sponsor Rogue Coach Chris McClung 36 (first 3 males all have surnames starting with Mc and are in their 30s), was a minute back at miles 6 & 7, but Brad Walwer, 4th place finisher, appeared to struggle a bit on the big mile 10 hill on 973 (as did all of us).  By the turn off Decker Lake Road onto Decker Lane in the final mile, McClung was just 15 seconds back.  He finally caught and passed into 3rd place on the Expo grounds, finishing at 1:19:37.6, less than a minute ahead.

First overall female, Tiffanie Marley 32, is also a recent transplant to Austin.  Marley came from the LA area in California and is now a high school math teacher in Austin.  Today’s race was a part of an overall 20 mile effort, with long warmup and long cool down.  She followed the lead women through mile 5, then “picked it up”, finishing at 1:25:47.8.  This was her first Half Marathon in 2-1/2 years.  She ran for the University of San Diego and loves it here.

Second place female, Sarah Jackson 27, ran her own race and finished strong, at 1:29:06.7.  After seeing Marley go by, she had the race to herself through the finish.  She is self trained, and unlike many of us, went up the mile 10 hill and then “the last 5K just flew by”. Nice.

Third place female, Angela Vega 25, cruised in at a fast 1:33:03.3.

USATF course certifier John Ferguson came down from his mountain home in Ouray, Colorado to run within 17 seconds of his predicted 1:38 time, on top of winning his age group.

This was the 3rd race of the 2015/2016 Austin Distance Challenge.  The next race is the Rogue Distance Series on Sunday January 10, the latest DC race to have unpredictable weather. Be prepared for anything, but it’s been chilly the last 3 years.  A great 10K and 30K are offered, in the neighborhood of Cedar Park.

The date for switching between the Half Track or Full options of the Distance Challenge is December 22nd. Half Track participants will run the 10K, Full the 30K.

Results by DoMore Race Services (full results at www.domoreresults.com)

Top Open Male Finishers
Matt McCurdy 1:13:22.7
Joseph McCellon 1:17:03.8
Christopher McClung 1:19:37.6

Top Open Female Finishers
Tiffanie Marley 1:25:47.8
Sarah Jackson 1:29:06.7
Angela Vega 1:33:03.3

Top Masters Male Finishers
Jim Moore 1:22:35.2
Michael Wedel 1:23:57.9
Brendon Cahoon 1:24:39.2

Top Masters Female Finishers
Sharon Wood 1:40:08.4
Patricia Turona 1:41:08.2
Sharon Smith 1:44:03.4

Top 19 and Under Male Finishers
Morgan Christiansen
Franklin Mikell
Jefferson Freeman

Top 19 and Under Female Finishers
Lauren Ulrick
Mia Cisco
Ivy Hebda

Top 20-24 Male Finishers
Pablo Gomez
Karl Burkhardt
Dominic Rosato

Top 20-24 Female Finishers
Madeleine Buxton
Lauren Foster
Abigael Huntoon

Top 24-29 Male Finishers
Brad Walwer
Matthew Buchhorn
Ryder Clayteon

Top 24-29 Female Finishers
Amy Chow
Lauren Newcomb
Ashley Voeks

Top 30-34 Male Finishers
Stuart Ward
Dmitry Levko
Ashish Premkumar

Top 30-34 Female Finishers
Emi Matsuyama
Sarah Burton
Crystal Torres

Top 35-39 Male Finishers
Phil Sneller
Marc Bergman
Andre Ditsch

Top 35-39 Female Finishers
Anne Spross
Jenny Veninga
Michelle Myers

Top 40-44 Male Finishers
Sean Lilley
Shawn Griffin
Brentley Weber

Top 40-44 Female Finishers
Gina McFarlen
April Gonzalez
Sandy Lechtenberg

Top 45-49 Male Finishers
Steven Moore
Patrick Hall
Michael Minardi

Top 45-49 Female Finishers
Tracie Matysik
Lisa Creger
Nadia Gartner

Top 50-54 Male Finishers
Jorge Uribe
Sean Brannon
Jose Portillo

Top 50-54 Female Finishers
Jean Rigatti
Kathleen Cleary
Aly Nunez

Top 55-59 Male Finishers
Dave Albertson
Gordon Alexander
Michael McNeal

Top 55-59 Female Finishers
Jelka Jonker
Janet Langan
Julie Wolf

The overall Master’s runners came in at:

Top Masters Male Finishers
Jim Moore 1:22:35.2
Michael Wedel 1:23:57.9
Brendon Cahoon 1:24:39.2

Top Masters Female Finishers
Sharon Wood 1:40:08.4
Patricia Turona 1:41:08.2
Sharon Smith 1:44:03.4

Top folks 60 and over (Grand Masters, unofficial category):

Top 60-64 Male Finishers
John Ferguson
Richard Ballinger
Robert Bowne

Top 60-64 Female Finishers
Susan Davis
Vicki Copeland
Amy Stein

Top 65 and Over Male Finishers
Scott Beachy
Bill Pfaff
James Pennebaker

Top 65 and Over Female Finishers
Chula Sims
Dianne Philip
Mary Nell Villarreal