Austin Marathon maintains pace, reaches 25th year anniversary

2016-02-15_Austin_Marathon_Zoe.Fu2050 (1)

Texas 4000 members, from left, Khoi Truong, Gilpreet Kooner, Mary Aviles and Alyssa Dawson run in the Austin Marathon on Sunday afternoon.

Photo by Zoe Fu

Over 11,000 runners crossed the finish line yesterday at the 25th Austin Marathon and Half Marathon.

John Conley, the race director for the past 20 years,  said he has watched the race change in many ways over the past two decades.

“The overall fitness level of your average Austinite is very high,” Conley said. “It’s remarkable when half of your field comes from your hometown.”

Conley said that Austin’s sister cities were also well represented at the race.

“The sister city program originally had two purposes, educational and cultural,” Conley said. “When I became [the race director], the first thing that I did was say that we need to add an athletic component, so we immediately issued an invitation to our sister cities to get some athletes.”

Conley said that there were representatives from Ōita City, Japan, and Saltillo, Mexico, both sister cities of Austin. The winner of the marathon was Hayato Sonoda of Japan.

Juan Uriol stops at the last 150 yards to thank God during the Austin Marathon on Sunday. There were over 15,000 participants for the 25th Austin Marathon. Photo by Zoe Fu | Daily Texan Staff

Stacey Conley, John Conley’s spouse and president of Conley Sports, has volunteered and worked the race over the years. Conley Sports has organized the races since 1998, but the couple met after working on the race together during the time when Motorola sponsored the event.

“[1991] was my first experience with the marathon, and I had such a blast,” Stacey Conley said. “My role kept getting bigger and bigger throughout the years.”

Communications studies senior Ed Hunt ran the half marathon together with his brother and UT alumus Patrick Hunt.

“This is our third marathon together,” Ed Hunt said. “When [Patrick] was here, we’d wake up every morning and train together.”

Katie McCarthy, applied learning and development senior, ran the half marathon with her roommate. McCarthy said that she had been training for the race for about eight months.

“The hardest part of training is mentally preparing yourself to go over 10 miles,” McCarthy said. “The race itself was actually really fun, but the hill at the 12th mile was brutal. You’re almost done, you have one more mile left, and there’s a huge hill before you can finish.”

History sophomore Sydney Rodriguez said she ran the half marathon after making a promise to a friend last year.

“I don’t back down from a challenge,” Rodriguez said. “You just have to put one foot in front of another and never give up.”

Written by BHARATH LAVENDRA

See original article here.