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SFA senior wins men’s 10K in first day of The Cowtown

Colby Mehmen crosses the finish line in 30:52 to take first place in The Cowtown men’s 10K in Fort Worth, Saturday, February 25, 2017.
Colby Mehmen crosses the finish line in 30:52 to take first place in The Cowtown men’s 10K in Fort Worth, Saturday, February 25, 2017. Special to the Star-Telegram

Colby Mehmen is a senior at Stephen F. Austin State University, finishing off degree requirements for a bachelor’s in computer information systems.

On Saturday morning, he was filling out Uncle Sam’s tax forms while earning a lawyer’s wage.

Mehmen collected the $500 first-place prize by speeding around The Cowtown’s 10-kilometer course in 30:52, or about the time it takes for the obsessed fast foodie to purchase and polish off a super-sized No. 1 with cheese at the Whataburger near the start-finish line at the Will Rogers Memorial Center.

That’s a good return on a nearly 31-minute investment, particularly for a 22-year-old college student on a ramen diet, while toiling with a little more than a nip in the February air.

Mehmen’s triumph was his most recent in a back-to-back victories. In December, he won the Dallas half marathon battling through Achilles’, knee, and hamstring injuries that kept him off the practice course during Christmas and the first of the year.

Feeling as good as new but without his typical training, Mehmen entered with a goal to break 31 minutes.

“I had a good five weeks of training,” said Mehmen, a native of Princeton, a town of slightly more than 6,800, northeast of Dallas in Collin County. “I kept an even pace throughout. The hills weren’t too bad. The course was pretty fast.”

Abu Kebede Diriba of Ethiopia crossed the finish line next, at 32:00. Jonathan Swiatocha, 24, of Keller was next at 32:02.

Those two earned the second- and third-place takes of $400 and $300. The women’s win, place, and show paid the same.

The running continues Sunday with the 26.2-mile marathon, the half marathon and the 31-mile ultra marathon.

Serkalem Abrha, an Ethiopian who trains in Albuquerque, was the best among the women’s 10K field. She toured the 6.2 miles in 35:57. In the 5K, Clint Bell, 37, claimed the men’s 5K title with a time of 16:24. Jessica Smith of Trophy Club won the women’s 5K in a time of 19:22.

Not far behind Abrha in second in the 10K, yet more than 2 minutes back, was The Cowtown’s most prodigious winner, Elizabeth Northern, who has captured the title in every Cowtown race.

Since winning the 5K and ultra marathon a year ago, Northern’s status has changed, from married to married mother of one. Northern, the course record holder in the women’s ultra, and her husband welcomed a baby girl, Penny, in November. Her new responsibilities have required her to alter her training regimen.

“I ran six hours before my water broke,” said Northern, who was running again 17 days after giving birth but acknowledged “it’s been very slow” getting back to top shape. “I was up at 3:30 this morning feeding. I’m just trying to cherish these moments with her. I can’t picture my life without her.”

Afterward, Northern joined a group of schoolchildren for the Cook Children’s 5K.

Today, she’ll pace the 3:30 marathon group.

The Cowtown

Will Rogers Memorial Center

Sunday: Half marathon, marathon, ultra marathon (7 a.m.)