Mark Pinales and Sarah Lancaster posted swift times at the Run for the Water 10 Miler

The Run for the Water 10-miler—the second race in the Austin Distance Challenge which wraps up with the Ascension Seton Austin Marathon on February 16—marked the real beginning of Austin’s fall-winter race calendar last Sunday in a big way.

Three past 3M Half Marathon champions Mark Pinales (2017) Michael Morris (2018), and Erik Stanley (2014) led the way from the starting horn on Austin’s South First Street Bridge, towing a field of some 1,700 runners behind them as they strung out along Cesar Chavez with former Arkansas track and cross country standout Ryan Normand trailing about 10 seconds behind.

Pinales, had a goal to take back the course record he had set in 2017 (51:07) before three-time Austin Half Marathon champ David Fuentes set a new mark (50:52) in 2018, and took advantage of perfect conditions—clear skies and 42-degree weather to do just that.

Running at a five-minute per-mile clip, Pinales hit mile three in 15:06, as Morris struggled to stay close, with Stanley a few steps behind him.

Pinales continued clicking off the miles at five-minute pace as he headed into the hilly section of the picturesque course along Scenic Drive, hitting the five-mile half-way mark in 25:12.

By then it was a solo effort, and with no one in sight, Pinales worked to chase down the record. The second half of the course begins to descend downhill, and Pinales covered the last five miles in 24:27— a speedy 4:53 pace—to reclaim the record as he crossed the finish in 49:40.

“I kept track of my pacing and picked it up on the downhills. I knew the last mile was flat—I’ve practiced that part of the course before, so I dropped my pace to 4:45 there,” said Pinales, who plans to run the Humana San Antonio Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon on December 8.

Normand, a former track and cross-country runner for Arizona State University, paced himself evenly and passed Morris and Stanley to come in second, posting a 50:44, with Stanley grabbing third in 50:57.

Sarah Lancaster—who placed third in the 2018 Statesman Capitol 10,000, also ran pretty much a solo effort. She took off with a 5:49 mile, with Anna Norman, a junior at the University of Texas 30 seconds arears.

Lancaster, a former University of Texas tennis standout, hit mile two in 11:45, and three 17:38. She hit the half-way mark in 29:26, and though she ran a fast second half, fell 22 seconds short of Jessica Harper’s 57:22 record set in 2018 as she broke the tape in 57:44.

“I’ve been focusing on shorter distances, so it’s good to get out here and see that I can still throw down a decent long-distance time,” said Lancaster. Norman, also running in her first 10-mile race, finished a distant second in 1:04:27, with Natasha Van Der Merwe third in 1:04:41.

Upcoming Races: Saturday, November 16 at 8:00 a.m., the Blanco Vista Wildcat 5K at Blanco Vista Elementary, 2951 Blanco Vista Blvd. in San Marcos. Sunday, November 24 at 9:00 a.m.., the Turkey Trails 5K/10K at Old Settler’s Park , 2003 Harrell Parkway in Round Rock.