As popular as half marathons have become, most people don’t think of running one during the summer—especially an Austin summer. But Cate Barrett, who won the Orange Leaf Half Marathon last weekend in New Braunfels is a native Austinite, so that might explain her heat tolerance.

It’s not the first hot race she’s run. Barrett placed second in the 2016 Statesman Capitol 10,000 on a hot and humid morning, behind her friend and sometime training partner Allison Mendez, who collapsed at the finish (but quickly recovered).

“I tolerate heat as well as anyone,” said Barrett. “Running for Baylor I got used to the heat. I don’t normally race in the summer, though.”

At Orange Leaf, Barrett topped the women’s field (good for fourth overall) in 1:25:18 while holding off Kristine Burciaga, who finished a few steps behind in 1:25:21. Joey Whelan won the men’s race in 1:12: 05.

Cate Barrett, shown here winning the 2015 Run for the Water 10 Miler, has proven her strength at longer distances. (Click in image to enlarge)

Though her collegiate background at Baylor is in middle distances—she’s run a 4:24 1,500—Barrett has proven quite successful at the longer distances. In November 2015, she won the Run for the Water 10 Miler in 1:00:40.

She jumped into the Orange Leaf race on a whim.

“I had been training this spring, and gotten some consistent mileage,” said Barrett, a former Baylor runner with a 5K best of 16:13.

“By the time I was ready to race, the racing season was over. So I just went online and the Orange Leaf came up,” said Barrett.  “It was super flat— an out-and-back course. So it was pretty easy. The race started at 6:30 a.m. and that helped, but the sun came up, so that affected us.

Barrett ran with Burciaga for the first three miles, and the field was thin enough so that the pair was basically alone on country roads.

“We started pretty fast- around 6:15 pace, and then we got slower,” said Barrett. “I just wanted to see what would happen. I haven’t raced a half-marathon in about two years. I ran the Bear-a-thon Half Marathon two years ago—that’s where I set my P.R. of 1:21:30.

“We didn’t talk much, “added Barrett.  “As a competitor, I wanted to see what would happen. At around four miles I opened a little gap on her. I didn’t look over my shoulder after the turn-around. Strava has this cool new feature showing how your run profile compares to someone else’s. After the race, I looked at it and realized I was never very far ahead of her.”

Barrett’s race recovery plan was hampered by a minor mishap, though.

“The next day, there was a women’s bike ride—it was a 100K—and my legs felt fine,” she said. “But I crashed on the ride and landed on my knee, so I’ve had to take a few days off of running.

Currently, Barrett, 27, works in customer support at RigUp, an oil and gas software supplier. She also coaches a marathon training group, and takes a casual approach to training.

“I basically run with friends, so I don’t have a coach right now,” she said. “I meet with a group called Runner’s Anonymous Workouts (RAW), so I do some of my quality workouts with them. I average about 40 miles a week. I often run with Sarah Lancaster, a former University of Texas tennis player. I also run with Pam Hess, a 3:03 marathoner and Sarah Rimel, who placed third in the 2017 Capitol 10,000. The best part about running is getting out there on a daily basis and hanging out with your friends. You have to enjoy it.

“My goal is to race well on the roads this fall in Austin. There are so many good local runners, and I like to compete against them. I think it’s great when top local runners show up for races.”

Upcoming races: Saturday, August 5, Duck Dash 5K at 8:00 a.m., at Yettie Polk Park, 101 South Davis
Belton. Saturday, August 12, 5K for Clay at 7:30 a.m. at the Clay Madsen Recreation Center,1600 Gattis School Road, Round Rock.