If anyone knew that elite runners from the North Carolina-based ZAP Fitness-Reebok team were coming into Austin for the 40th edition of the Statesman Capitol 10,000, it was a well-kept secret.
By the end of the iconic road race, though, there was no hiding ZAP Fitness runners Andrew Colley and Johnny Crain. They surprised such local standouts as Raymond Joseph, J.T. Sullivan and Erik Stanley by leading the Cap 10K from start to finish, with Colley breaking the tape in 30 minutes and 30 seconds, a mere two seconds ahead of his teammate.
Joseph finished third in 30:59, and Sullivan, who raced for Stanford before moving to Austin in 2013, took fourth in 31:27. Stanley, the Cap 10K champion in 2015, placed fifth in 31:29.
“Our coach Pete Rea told us to hold back for the first 5K and just see where we were at,” said the 26-year-old Colley, a former North Carolina State runner. “We wanted to feel out the hills and really get some good work in, and the second half we just wanted to roll. Luckily we felt good, and the crowd got us going for the last part of the race, which was really cool.”
Colley and Crain, 24, paced the field of some 21,000 runners north on Congress Avenue through a five-minute opening mile. Turning left onto Trinity Street, the pair began to pull away from a pack that included Sullivan, Stanley and a pair of University of Arkansas distance-running alums, Joseph and Rio Reina.
As the group climbed the hills on 15th Street and Enfield Boulevard, only Joseph could stick with the Zap Fitness pair as they cruised through two miles in 10:06 before hitting 5K mark in 15:43, shortly before they turned onto Winsted Lane.
Many a Cap 10K has been won or lost on the stretch shortly after the race’s midpoint, and sure enough Colley and Crain threw in a 4:41 mile to shake Joseph for good. By the time they hit the five-mile mark in 24:32, Joseph was just a speck in the distance. At that point, the only questions remaining were: Could one or both Zap Fitness runners dip under 30 minutes and would it be Colley or Crain who broke the tape first?
A sub-30 finishing time would have required a 4:30 final mile, and with no real reason to push that hard, the pair maintained an even cadence until they hit the six-mile mark on Riverside Drive. At that point the teammates became rivals, and Colley, who has a 3:58 mile on his running résumé, sprinted to the tape. While nipping Crain, he finished more than a minute off of Eric Chirchir’s course record of 29:24, set in 2013.
“We wanted to maintain control and work together through the 5K,” said Crain, a former North Central College runner who has a best of 28:26 for the 10K distance. “And the second 5K, it was every man for himself, but really, we were just having fun with it, giving high-fives and getting the crowd pumped up.”
A five-time All-American while at N.C. State, Colley said he and Crain were given a preview of the Cap 10K course on Saturday.
“We got to drive around on it and see where the hills were,” Colley said. “The elevation map is a bit deceiving because it’s really a hilly course, but in Blowing Rock (N.C.), we crush the mountains as much as possible to prepare for hills like these.
“We wanted to see the Capitol 10,000 because of how big it is, and how the city of Austin gets behind it. It’s a really cool event to be a part of as we get ready for track season. It’s the first year that our sponsor Reebok helped sponsor the event so we wanted to make sure that we took home the win.”
CAP 10K MEN’s TOP 10
1. Andrew Colley;Lenoir, N.C.;30:30
2. Johnny Crain;Blowing Rock N.C.;30:32
3. Raymond Joseph;Austin;30:59
4. J.T. Sullivan;Austin;31:27
5. Erik Stanley;Austin;31:29
6. Joseph Whelan;Spring Branch;31:44
7. Rio Reina;Berkeley, Calif.;32:24
8. Mike Kurvach;Georgetown;32:42
9. Dusan Makevic;Austin;33:03
10. Lorin Wilson;Austin;33:18