For 18 years, professor Maurice Johnson has put on Moes’ Better Half Marathon in San Marcos. Johnson, affectionately known as Moe, has taught in the Physical Education department at Texas State for many years, and has played an active role in the San Marcos area running community.
"The idea for the race originally came about back in the 80s when I was directing a lot of 5Ks and never had a chance to run any of the races," said Johnson. Back then Brian McCoy of McCoy’s Building Supplies decided to step in and sponsor an event, freeing me up to run. He asked me to select a distance, and I chose the half-marathon because it seemed like there weren’t really any half-marathons around here. I ran the first eight of them."
That first year, Johnson said, the race attracted 300 runners. In 2004 it’s still going strong, with 330 running last Sunday.
Vance Reyes, a former University of Houston track and cross-country standout, with a 10K best of 31:00, made the journey up from Humble in search of some hills to race on. He found them and then some at Moe’s.
"It went well," said Reyes, who won the race in 1:15:19. The 28-year old, who recently posted a 2:36 at Motorola, cruised through the rolling hills unchallenged averaging a 5:45 per mile pace. "I’m using this training for Boston, where I hope to run around 2:32," he said.
Tim Fahey of Ingleside, finished a distant second in 1:17:41. Austin’s Richard Mendez captured the master’s title in 1:22:11.
Deanna Savo Benge ran a solid 1:29:56 to edge out Sara Pizzochero, an ultrarunner from Austin, by three seconds. Savo Benge negotiated the hilly course at a 6:52 pace.
Austin’s Charlene Janiak, 51, beat all runners over 40 to win the women’s master title in 1:41:34. (Savo Benge, 41 was separated out as the overall winner).
Dense fog seemed to accentuate the hills rather than mask them. Numerous runners commented that the 13.1 mile course seemed as if it were uphill the entire way. "Every year I say I’m not going to come back and run it again, said Mark Pumphrey of Shertz, who clocked a 1:34:42. "But every year I do."
Scott Birk, who ran 1:32:25 found it challenging, but worthwhile. "I ran two 10K races last weekend, and the Cowtown Marathon in Fort Worth the week before that, so I’m pleased with how I ran," said Birk. "The course is tough, but fun."
Stacy Sue Sutton, who took third in the women’s 35-39 division, (1:47:58) put the whole thing in perspective. "This was a jog in the park," she said. The whole way, I was thinking about my brother who is serving in Iraq, and I felt lucky to be able to get up and run 13.1 miles in the rain."
In other weekend action, Michael Powell, 41 topped the field at the Baglefest 5K on Sunday, in 17:13, ahead of Alex Aldaco’s 17:56. Fourteen year old Harper Hubbeling beat all women to the finish in 20:46. Gretchen Weerakoon took second in 21:33.