Second place 5K winner Karen Saenz, along with Gazelle Foundation co-founders Gilbert Tuhabonye and Peter Rauch.

Marathoners used the hilly Run for the Water race on Sunday, November 5 as tune-ups on their way to Olympic marathon trials qualifier races.

Despite getting clipped by a 5K runner and hitting the pavement, former University of Texas track and cross-country star Rory Tunningley got his first win at this race after placing second to David Fuentes and Mitch Ammons the past few years.

“A mile into the race, I got clipped by a 5K guy and went down,” said Tunningley, store manager at Ready to Run. “Scraped up my knee and hands.”

But Tunningley took it in stride, scrambling back up and leading the rest of the race, ahead of Brady Holmer, a PhD candidate in Applied Physiology at the University of Florida.

Tunningley ran even splits on the hilly course, averaging 5:19 a mile to hit the halfway mark in 26:39 and the second half in 26:36, for the win in 53:15. Holmer trailed nearly a minute back in 54: 07. Ben Duong finished third in 54:55.

“I kind of ran it as a pretty controlled effort,” said Tunningley, who is in marathon training for an Olympic qualifying time. “I felt like I ran pretty slow on the hilly section, like I was slipping a little.”

Tunningley will be running the AACR Philadelphia Marathon on November 19, looking to hit the 2:18:00 or better standard.

Rory Tunningley racing the 2023 Run for the Water 10 Miler

“I feel like I’m in similar shape to when I ran 2:16:25 at Grandma’s,” he said. “So I think I have a legitimate shot at the Olympic marathon trials qualifying time, and the Philly course is relatively flat. The Run for the Water was a good last tune-up race. I’m pretty happy with the race I ran.”

In the women’s race, Stevi Clark, who ran her debut marathon at Chevron Houston last January in 2:46:19, ran ahead of elite marathoner Allie Kieffer, leading the whole way. She picked it up in the second half, which includes plenty of downhill, for the win. Clark averaged a 5:52 pace overall to break the tape in 58:48, ahead of Kieffer’s 1:00:44. Christine Hardy, 40 finished third in 1:01:35.

“I loved the race. It’s for a good cause, and the course is beautiful. Scenic, but tough, but I like the challenge of it. It felt a little slippery going up the hills,” said Clark, who took second at Run for the Water last year in 1:00:13. “I got into the elite field for the California International Marathon (CIM) and feel I have a real chance of hitting the 2:37:00 Olympic marathon trials qualifier mark. I’ll try to ger a couple of solid long runs in and then taper.”

Kieffer, who is also training for CIM, actually ran 20 miles, following the Run for the Water 10 with another 10 miles after.

“I was thinking I’d run 6:20 pace. It was part of a training effort. I haven’t done any real marathon pace runs yet, so I was trying to hold back and not overdo it. I’ll run the Philadelphia Half Marathon in two weeks, and then run the CIM in December hoping hit the Olympic marathon trials qualifying time.”

Upcoming Races: Sunday, November 12, Run by the Creek 5K & 10K at 8:00 a.m. in Dripping Springs. Thursday, November 23, the Cedar Park Turkey Day 5K at 9:00 a.m. in Cedar Park.