Can any Central Texas runner beat David Fuentes in a road race? Not lately.
Fuentes, coming off a sizzling 14:01 win at last month’s Schlotzsky’s Bun Run 5K, successfully defended his title at the Run for the Water 10-mile race Sunday, outrunning some top local talent along the way. Tia Martinez repeated as well, topping the field in the women’s race for the second straight year.
Fuentes took the pace out hard, heading up Cesar Chavez Street to blow through the first mile in 4:38, with former University of Texas runner Collin Smith alongside him. But Fuentes took control, heading into the hilly section of the course past Lake Austin Boulevard, dropping Smith to race the clock solo the rest of the way.
“I just took it out hard from the gun and didn’t look back,” said Fuentes. “Smith was with me through the first mile, and then I just put the throttle down.”
Fuentes motored up Scenic Drive through five miles, passing the halfway mark in a blazing 24:34 with no one in sight, and hit six miles in 29:43. Running on Cesar Chavez towards the First Street Bridge, he passed nine miles in 44:39 and cruised home to break the tape in 49:38, a 4:58-per-mile pace.
“I feel like I’m the best right now, and I’m not going to let anyone come in here and tell me otherwise,” said Fuentes, a 2016 Olympic marathon trials qualifier. “It’s confidence more than anything else.”
Austin Bussing, an ex-UT steeplechaser, caught Smith just after six miles, to take second in 50:39, ahead of Smith’s 50:44.
In the women’s race, Kristen Findley, a Rogue Athletic Club runner, kept pace with teammate Martinez as the pair put down back-to-back miles at a 5:45 pace. But Martinez, running her first race since last May and not wanting to take any chances on Findley’s closing speed, began to move away as they approached the three-mile mark.
“Kristen is a miler,” said their Rogue Athletic Club coach Steve Sisson. “I think Tia wanted to open an early gap to make sure Kristen wasn’t too close.”
Martinez passed the halfway mark in 29:26, with Findley just 10 seconds back, still within striking distance. Then, with a mile and a half to go, Martinez survived a late-race scare, adding about eight seconds to her time when she took a wrong turn on Veterans Drive.
“That kind of killed my momentum,” said Martinez. “I was worried about my lead there. Kristin’s good, and she was getting close.”
But she quickly regrouped, getting back on course and holding her lead to break the tape in 57:39. Findley came home second in 58:02, with 2014 Statesman Capitol 10,000 champ Chris Kimbrough grabbing third in 59:52.