Crossing the finish line first Sunday at the Statesman Capitol 10,000, Scott MacPherson felt as if he had just completed a marathon.
And in a sense, he had.
Defying conventional running wisdom, MacPherson ran 20 miles Saturday as part of his training for the coming Boston Marathon. Then on Sunday, he covered the 6.2-mile Cap 10K course in near-record pace, giving him a weekend total of 26.2 miles.
MacPherson said his extended pre-Cap 10K training run Saturday arose out of a discussion with his coach at Team Rogue Elite, Steve Sisson.
”I take a while to warm up,” MacPherson said, “so we figured that running 20 the day before the Cap 10 would help me get into the rhythm. After this weekend, it’s basically just relaxing and tapering. This was my last hard run before Boston.”
And MacPherson did indeed run hard Sunday, breaking the tape in 29 minutes, 36 seconds — a scant 12 seconds off the race record — to become the first three-time Cap 10K men’s champ.
“I felt really good, but every time I run this race I always start to tie up right around the Austin High School track,” said MacPherson, referring to a point about four miles into the race. “I think it’s just the hills and going out hard. I really wanted to push there and go after the record.
“I was close — I’m pretty happy with the result.”
Devin Monson, a three-time NCAA Division III track All-American at Hamline University, finished second in 30:14. Austin’s David Fuentes crossed in 30:26 to finish third for the second straight year.
“In a perfect world, I would have liked to beat Scott,” said Monson, who lives in Austin and also competes for Team Rogue Elite. “I don’t like losing to one of my teammates, but after about halfway, I realized I had to focus on getting second place.”
Leading a field of about 12,000 runners north on Congress Avenue as the Capitol loomed in the mist, MacPherson tore through the opening mile in 4:39. Only defending Cap 10K champ Eric Chirchir, who set the race record last year, hung with MacPherson, but he soon fell back, too.
“Eric is coming back from an injury, and he had told me beforehand, ‘If you want to go for the record, I’ll try to help you as much as I can,’ ” said MacPherson, a former Austinite who’s temporarily relocated to Columbia, Mo. “There’s a lot of that kind of camaraderie in road racing. He definitely helped me for that first mile.”
From there, MacPherson, 27, took advantage of the cool, overcast conditions to press the pace. Heading up San Jacinto Street toward 15th Street, Fuentes gave chase along with Monson, but MacPherson continued to pull away.
When he reached the five-mile mark in 23:41, it appeared MacPherson might be able to run down Chirchir’s record, but he fell just short.
The top-10 men’s finishers — including Chirchir, who has 10th — all crossed in fewer than 32 minutes, and although South African runners Siyabonga Nkonde and Philani Buthelez were no-shows because of cancelled flights, the men’s elite field still qualified as one of the strongest in the race’s 37-year history.
“The depth of the men’s field — especially the local element — was a testament to the level of elite runners that Austin is becoming known for,” said Cap 10K race director John Conley. “Sisson deserves a lot of credit for creating a nucleus of elite runners, both men and women. We’re going to see the competitive climate in this city change due to his efforts.”