What happens when you take a fast net-downhill course, a perfectly organized race, and ideal running conditions? PRs, that’s what. And that’s exactly what happened on January 22 at the 3M Half Marathon. Top local runners Mitch Ammons, a 2024 Olympic marathon trials qualifier PRed (1:04:27) as did Michael Morris, head track and cross-country coach at San Marcos High School (1:06:07) and Elizabeth Laseter (1:18:04). All three run with Austin’s Bat City Track Club. Overall, a large percentage of runners all set personal bests.
In the women’s race, Austin-based Allie Kieffer, a 2:28:12 marathoner, led from wire to wire making up for a wrong turn the week before in the highly competitive Barron Collier Companies Naples Half Marathon in Florida, where she lost her lead and came in fourth.
The “downhill to downtown” course starts at Stonelake Blvd. in north Austin and Kieffer ran a brisk five minute and 52 seconds per-mile-pace with Karen Bertasso-Hughes and Shannon Gaden right there with her. Kieffer hit 10K in 36:31 on Great Northern Blvd., a 23 second up on Bertasso-Hughes.
“When I took the lead around three miles,” I just didn’t look back,” said Kieffer.
Kieffer was well out in front as she crossed the finish line on San Jacinto in 1:16:24, while Bertasso-Hughes and Gaden duked it out for second place. Gaden grabbed it 1:17:00 to 1:17:49. Caroline Brooks came in fourth in 1:17:53 with Laseter in fifth.
Kieffer said she plans to run the Ascension Seton Austin Half Marathon on February 19 and is looking to run an Olympic Marathon trials qualifying time next fall at the BMW Berlin Marathon.
World Mountain running champion Joseph Gray of Colorado Springs had a hard-fought duel with Ammons in the men’s race. A trio made up of Gray, Ammons and Longhorn runner Kobe Yepez formed the lead pack in the first couple miles, hitting 5K in 15:17. But Yepez fell back and it was a two-man race with Gray and Ammons running stride for stride. Meantime 2019 3M champ Michael Morris moved into third place ahead of Yepez.
Gray and Ammons traded the lead all the way to the finish on San Jacinto, where Gray got the better of Ammons, 1:04:23 to 1:04:27. Morris took third in 1:06:07 while Al Maeder took fourth in 1:06:31, ahead of Yepez, fifth in 1:06:51.
“Mitch is a strong runner and made it an honest effort,” said Gray, a top-ranked mountain n in Colorado.
“I wouldn’t have run this fast if it weren’t for Joe. He pushed me a lot. I really, really tried to catch him on the final straight. I gave it everything I had,” commented Ammons.
Upcoming races: Sunday, February 5 at 7:30 a.m., the San Marcos Half Marathon at the Tanger Outlet in San Marcos. Saturday, February 11 at 7:30 a.m., the Cupid’s Chase 5K at San Gabriel Park, Georgetown.