Lockhart High School/UT alum and distance ace Rory Tunningley is part of a three-man pacing team that will lead female elites aiming for an Olympic Trials Qualifying “B” Standard time at the 2019 Austin Marathon on February 17. Joining Tunningley is 2:30 marathoner Bryan Morton, and Will Nation (2016, and 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon Qualifier). The trio of Austin runners will be helping to pace Olympic hopefuls to reach the finish line in 2:44:59 (“B” Standard time is 2:45:00).

Rory Tunningley (#19), seen here mixing it up with other elites at the Austin 10/20, will be part of a trio of Austin runners pacing Olympic hopefuls at the Austin Marathon.

Tunningley, who clocked 29:30 for the 10K and 14:15 for the 5K as a Longhorn, was cross-country team captain his senior year at the University of Texas, helping the UT men win back-to-back regional titles. Additionally, the good-natured runner is a 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier (1:04:51 at the 2015 Rock ‘n Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon).

He’s the first to admit that reaching an elite status takes guidance as well as hard work.

“Scott Hippensteel coached me in high school (Lockhart High School) and is someone who taught me to love running. He still helps me, and I would definitely consider him one of my mentors,” said Tunningley, now 28. “Another coach who helped me learn a lot about running and growing as a man and as a leader is Coach John Hayes who coached me both during my years at the University of Texas and a year or two after graduating. Currently I’m coached by John Schrup, who I like to describe as a guru of running knowledge.

“When I qualified for the Olympic Trials in 2016 I had the help of a friend who paced me half way through a half-marathon in which I ran a qualifying standard,” said Tunningley. “I look forward to helping others achieve their goal of qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials.”

“I’m really excited to be a part of the Austin marathon pacing team for the elite women aiming to achieve the Olympic trials standard,” Tunningley added. “When I achieved my standard to run the 2016 Olympic marathon trials, my friend Trevor ran the first half of the race with me. The first half in the marathon in my opinion is the most important because you can’t achieve the time or win the race at that point, but you can lose any shot of running to your potential if you go out to quickly.”

To bring the elite women across the line under 2:45, Tunningley will be cruising along at around a 6:15 per mile pace.

“I view my responsibilities as keeping the pace in the right range and to help keep the elites in our pace group as relaxed as possible,” said Tunningley. The race will be a more relaxed run for me as a pacer, as my actual marathon race pace is roughly a minute per mile faster than the pace we will set at the Austin marathon. I’ll be racing the Aramco Houston Half Marathon in January before Austin, so I should be fit and ready to roll by then. I’m excited to help fellow elite runners who were in my shoes a few years ago get to the top of our sport the Olympic Marathon Trails!”

Upcoming races: Saturday, October 27 at 8:00 a.m., the Día de los Muerto 5K at 333 Stagecoach Trail
San Marcos. Saturday, October 27 at 7:30 a.m., the Hill Country Halloween Half Marathon at H-E-B Center, 2100 Avenue of the Stars in Cedar Park.