Marathon training can really pay off if you plan on running some longer races prior to the big one. Just ask David Fuentes and Jessica Harper.  Both Fuentes, a three-time Austin Half Marathon champ and 2018 3M Half-Marathon champ Jessica Harper are in full marathon training, and both topped the men’s field at the Run for the Water 10 Miler last Sunday.

As part of the Austin Distance Challenge, the Run for the Water 10 Mile race is the first major event on the Austin fall running calendar, and typically draws a top-notch field.

This year was no exception, as Fuentes, Austin newcomer Ryan Normand, and South African runner Sipho Ngxongo, headed up the men’s field.

Three-time Austin Half Marathon champ topped the men’s field at the 2018 Run for the Water 10 Miler

The trio moved to the front quickly, hitting mile one on Cesar Chavez in five minutes flat, but it wasn’t long before Fuentes pulled away.

Fuentes basically ran a solo race, working the hills along Pecos Street before hitting the half-way mark on Scenic Drive in 26:05. The second half of the race is more forgiving, and Fuentes was able to drop the pace to sub-five-minute miles, clipping along at a 4:57 per mile pace.

“I opened it up after the first mile, and I was alone after that,” said Fuentes. “I wanted Mark Pinales’ course record pretty bad,” said Fuentes, who has won the event four times. I know the course pretty well. I knew I really needed to ratchet down the pace on the second half,” Fuentes.

Fuentes, a St. Edward’s cross-country hall-of-famer, hit the tape in 50:52, eclipsing Pinales’ 2017 mark of 51:07. Normand came in second, clocking 53:09, with Ngxongo third in 54:39.

“I’ve been doing a lot of marathon training,” commented Fuentes, who is hoping for an Olympic qualifying time at the California International Marathon on December 2. “So, I’m probably a little better prepared for the 10-mile distance than Ryan.”

2018 3M champ Jessica Harper topped the women’s field at the 2018 Run for the Water 10 Miler

Harper, like Fuentes is training for a marathon, and took the first mile out behind 2018 Statesman Capitol 10,000 champ Rachel Baptista, who forged an early lead.

But Baptista fell off the pace, and Harper, a former Longhorn runner, found herself in front heading for the second mile, running the hills hard to build a good lead on Baptista, who ended up dropping out after the four-mile mark.

“I started out conservatively behind Baptista, and wasn’t aware that she dropped out until later,” said Harper. “I focused on going up the hills conservatively and attacking the downhills. Harper passed the half-way mark in 29:19 and dropped the pace to 5:44 per mile on the second half to break the tape in 57:22, good for eleventh overall in a field of 1,528 finishers. Austin’s Cate Barrett and Sarah Jackson fought for the next two places, with Barrett claiming second in 1:00:37, ahead of Jackson’s 1:02:50.

“I saw Rachel pull off right before Scenic Drive, so I knew I was in second place,” said Barrett, who is also training for California International Marathon. “I’m really happy with my time.”  Full results here.

The race worked as a great tune-up for Harper, who plans on defending her title at 3M Half Marathon—the third event in the Austin Distance Challenge—which wraps up with the Austin Marathon on February 17.

Upcoming Races: Sunday, November 11 at 8:25 a.m. the Cedar Park 5 Miler at Twin Lakes Family YMCA 204 E Elm Trail, in Cedar Park. Saturday, November 17 at 7:30 a.m., the Chosen Half Marathon & 5K at the Rockin’ R in Gruen, 1405 Gruene Rd. in New Braunfels.