The big winner on Day 1 of The Cowtown 2018 was patience.
After torrential downpours and lightning caused a delay of 1.5 hours, the starter’s pistol finally sounded at 8:30 a.m. Saturday with the 5K and 10K going off concurrently.
They all got their shoes wet. Some of them a soaking as rain fell in intervals throughout the morning.
But, a little over 16 minutes after the start, The Cowtown welcomed its first winner.
Bryan Ruiz of Weatherford snapped the ceremonial finish-line ribbon with a 5K triumph in 16 minutes, 23 seconds.
The 30-year-old cross country and track coach caught Peter Jaros and Cole Atchison in Trinity Park and never looked back down the stretch.
“I sat behind these young guys and let them do a little of the work,” Ruiz said. “Once we got into Trinity Park, I opened it up a little bit. I passed them just to play with their head; I didn’t know what I had.
“These days, I’ll do well only if my body cooperates.”
Robin Galloso, 25, formerly a runner at UT Rio Grande Valley and now of Bryan, was the top woman’s finisher at 18:30.
Patrick Leary, 22, led the field in the 10K, which was supposed to kick off at 7 a.m.
The 22-year-old from Irving, coming off the Hot Chocolate 15K in Dallas three weeks ago, got in at 33:06. Alyssa Jones, at 38:51, was the top women’s finisher.
Leary is working his way up to the half-marathon distance, though, right now, he’s “having fun with the 10Ks.”
“The Hot Chocolate 15K was the longest race I’ve ever done,” said Leary, a native of Northern California who ran at Arizona and got to Texas soon as he could when FedEx came calling with a job. “I went out patient … that’s my strategy in every race. Go out calm the first mile, which was slower than I wanted. I just took off to the front and hammered all the way through from there.”
The weather took a toll on race participation.
According to Cowtown officials, less than half of the more than 14,800 registered for Saturday’s races finished their races. Officials estimated that only about 2,700 of the 7,637 signed up for the children’s 5K crossed the finish line. That race didn’t take off until 11:15, almost two hours after its scheduled start, when the skies opened again.
An estimated 4,400 of 7,213 combined registrants completed the 5K and 10K.
As of Saturday morning, 8,973 had registered for Sunday’s marathon, half-marathon and ultra-marathon, though that number could grow. Registration didn’t close until later Saturday.
The forecast is offering far better conditions – clear skies – for Sunday’s races.
“It was great. I love this kind of weather,” said Ruiz, whose run, though without rain, was damp with a temperature in the mid-50s.
Ruiz, a Corpus Christi native who ran the 800 meters at Tarleton State, is a cross country and track coach at High Point Academy in White Settlement.
Working with his kids is where he gets most of his speed work today.
Ruiz does not describe as a marathoner, though he is pacing a group on Sunday. He does approve of the halfs.
Most of his 50 miles a week are done on an inclined treadmill, starting at 4 a.m. daily.
“It’s scary to run on dark roads in Weatherford,” Ruiz said. “People aren’t accustomed to runners. I don’t think they’re really paying attention. It freaks me out.”