Hundreds gather to run Tyler's streets in annual race
While it was a bit chilly for churchgoers on Sunday, it was ideal running conditions for those who converged on the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden.
Almost 2,000 runners gathered for the third annual Tyler Rose Marathon, Half Marathon and Fit City 5K.
The day did not begin well as the race timer, Jeff Glaze, was assaulted in Canton en route from the Dallas area to Tyler. Race officials said he suffered broken ribs and was hospitalized.
While thankful Glaze, of Columbus, Ohio, was OK after the encounter, the incident did cause delays in the start of each race.
Cliff Couch, of Mellew Productions, Inc., which conducts the race, said, "Our race timer was mugged while getting gas in Canton, early, early this morning. He was jumped. ... We had to go to a backup system, we had to build it (from scratch), hence we had some starts delayed. We found out (about Glaze) about 5:30 a.m.; and at that moment we had to go in high gear."
Mallory Jones-Fiske, race director, added, "Jeff suffered some broken ribs and other injuries in Canton. We think he will be OK. We understand the Canton police found the suspects and Jeff actually identified them before he received treatment."
Besides the assault and the delay in starts, it was a good for running.
A group of fans cheer on runners as they make the final turn to the finish line on Sunday morning at the Tyler Rose Marathon.
"(The weather) couldn't be better. This is an unexpected gift," Couch said. "When you get temperatures in the 50s on a cloudy day in early October, coupled with the East Texas scenery and hospitality here in Tyler, it doesn't get any better. ... We had just over 1,900 runners register."
Although the runners enjoyed the scenery, the hills around the city did present a challenge.
Still, Shane Huff, of Shreveport, La., turned in a sub-three hour time to capture the men's marathon. He had a clocking of two hours, 58 minutes and seven seconds in just his third time to run 26.2 mile distance in an official race.
"I actually liked the course," Huff, 35, said. "We have similar courses back home -- hilly like this. ... With every up hill, you are rewarded with a downhill. You have to take advantage of that. Going up the hills, you try to keep your pace and then go a touch faster going down. I enjoyed (the race); it was a blast."
Huff has been running marathons for 16 months. He qualified for Boston 2013 with his time in New Orleans earlier this year.
Placing second was Fred Bryant (3:03.42), while Brian Aurelio (3:09.30) captured third.
The top female runner was Maria Martinez, 35, of Fort Worth. She was fourth among all runners with a time of 3:20.31. Second was Kate Bernier (3:35.35) and taking third was Suzy Seeley (3:37.25).
The men's masters division winner was John Camp, 51, with a time of 3:25.20. The female masters winner was Suzy Seeley, 53, at 3:37.25.
In the half marathon, Gerardo Moreno, a former Stephen F. Austin runner and current Diboll High School teacher, won with a time of 1:13.17.
The 28-year-old from Nacogdoches was second two years ago in Tyler. He ran track at Cameron Yoe High School before SFA and is also the coach for Pineywoods Athletic Club.
"The course was rough; I forgot how hilly it was when I ran two years ago," Moreno said. "The weather was nice for running."
Following Moreno were Clay Emge (1:15.21) and Bruce Faltynski (1:16.13).
Winning the female division was Kendra Gaebel with a time of 1:29.44. She was followed by Leslies Stelpflug (1:37.20) and Elizabeth Wilson (1:37.54).
Bob Hepler, UT Tyler cross country and track coach, won the men's masters half marathon division. The 50-year-old clocked in at 1:25.25. Amy Lindgren, 42, won the women's masters at 1:40.28.
The half marathon attracted the most runners -- 1,035.
The Fit City 5K was delayed by an hour and three minutes because of the timing issues. Some runners tired of waiting and started on their own, while many waited for the official start.
Stephen Kramer won with a clocking of 19:48.7. Following Kramer were Vann Hassell (20:11.9) and David DiPaolo (20:33.3).
Seventeen-year-old Caroline Rook, who attends Grace Community School, won the female division with a time of 21:30.4. Placing second was Laurie Langer (22:20.5) with Marisol Hernandez (22:34.8) third.
The race attracted many runners from the Metroplex including 56-year-old David Pennybacker, of Rowlett. His friend, Tim Miller, of Rockwall, signed the two up.
Pennybacker had run 12 marathons but decided to switch to the half marathons because "it is less wear and tear." He has run the trifecta of White Rock (Dallas), Cowtown (Fort Worth) and Memorial (Oklahoma City) four times.
"I will come back," Pennybacker said of the race. "It is a good size. It an easy drive, easy access, plus there's free pizza."
Ken Gagliano, of Plano, said he and his wife, Sarah, began running half marathons so they could spend more time together.
For Charles Bertalot, 71, of Jenks, Okla., it is a love of running long distances that attracts him. He has run 33 half marathons and 27 marathons, including Boston and White Rock.
"I just started running for exercise when all of my buddies got too old to play basketball," Bertalot said.
All races began in front of the entrance to the Rose Garden Center and concluded inside the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden amongst the many rose and flower blooms.
Couch said the sponsors for the event were Gildan, the Tyler Paper and TylerPaper.com, Fit City Challenge, Ozarka, Mallory Jones-Fiske Website Designer, East Texas Radio Group, Brookshire Grocery Co., and Advocare.