DALLAS – Not many runners had a more productive week than Gabriel Zambrano.
Earlier this week, the Fort Worth native won both the Rangers Labor Day 5K and the Fort Worth Runners Club 5K. Zambrano capped-off his spectacular week by winning the Mavs Run This Town 5K on Thursday night, which was held at Victory Plaza near American Airlines Center.
Zambrano, in fact, also won the Mavs Run This Town 5K last year. But going back-to-back was much more grueling considering what was on the 23-year old phenom’s schedule earlier this week.
“I had two races – one on Sunday and one on Monday – and I was able to win both of those,” Zambrano said. “But I was pretty beat up. I ran a season’s best on Monday and then I came back with another season’s best (Thursday). I went 15 (minutes) 26 (seconds) on Monday, but I didn’t think I’d be able to get another season’s best the same week.”
Proceeds from the Mavs Run This Town 5K benefits the Mavs Foundation to support those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Zambrano captured the Mavs Run This Town 5K in a mere 15 minutes and 18 seconds, and was never challenged. Daniel Wong finished a distance second in 16 minutes and three seconds.
Dallas’ Sheila Natho, 51, won the women’s division in 20 minutes and 20 seconds. Kelly O’Brien finished second in 21 minutes and four seconds.
This is the fourth year the Mavs have staged this event, and Natho has competed all four years. Her previous highest finish in this race was a fifth place.
“If it had been hot and muggy, I wouldn’t have raced it,” Natho said. “I would have run it for fun. But once I saw that the dew points were going to be in the 40s and the humidity was low I said, ‘Ok, I’m going to go for it.’ I don’t run well when it’s hot and muggy.”
Several husband and wife combinations were part of the 1,000 folks who participated in Thursday’s race. That includes Dan and Jane Henn of Dallas.
“This is my fourth year running in it and I came close to a personal best,” the 57-year old Dan Henn said. “I finished around 44 minutes and 30 seconds, so I’m pretty sure I’m not a medal winner, but I feel good. My wife ran, but she finished ahead of me because she’s a runner. I’m the slow poke in the family, but she’s five years younger than me.”
Dan Henn had a perfect explanation as to why his wife finished ahead of him.
“She used to do marathons and half marathons, and I walked on the treadmill at LA Fitness,” he said. “She was a runner when I first met her, she would get up at 4:30 in the morning and be at the gym at 5 and work out until 7. When I retired I said I can start going to the gym now. I get to walk off those margaritas or glasses of wine from the night before.”
The husband and wife team of 33-year old JP and 34-year old Stacy Ortiz from Wylie also competed in the Mavs Run This Town 5K. It marked the second time JP has participated in this event, and the first for Stacy.
“It’s a fantastic event,” JP Ortiz said. “I was here two years ago and I loved every minute of it and I said as soon as I got another chance I’m going to do it again. I had registered and everything for it last year, but I just couldn’t run because I think I had to work late.”
When asked if his wife finished ahead of him on Thursday, JP Ortiz smiled and said: “I couldn’t let that happen.”
In a drop-the-mic moment, Stacy Ortiz countered by saying: “I ran a half marathon. And he hasn’t. So, there you go.”
Tina Wilson of Dallas indicated that she draws inspiration from this annual race.
“This is my fourth time running in it and I’ve gotten better each year, except that third year because I was coming off an injury,” the 59-year old Wilson said. “I’ve been a runner since high school. Now that I’m older I appreciate it a lot more.”
Talk show host Valencia King of Garland also appreciated the time she was able to spend with her fellow runners.
“I ran it in last year and this year I ran about the same time,’’ the 25-year old King said. “Honestly, it’s just good to see everybody excited about getting out there and having fun while exercising and being healthy as well. And it brings the Mavericks community together, not just the Dallas community. The Mavs fans are some of the greatest fans in the world, so it’s a lot of fun.”
Howard Crawford didn’t realize how much fun he was in for until he – on a whim – decided to throw his name into the Mavs Run This Town 5K hat. In Dallas from Bristol, England – near London – Crawford is visiting relatives who convinced him to participate in this race.
“My cousin said there’s a 5K run,” the 51-year old Crawford said. “He told me (Wednesday) night. I was eating some dinner and he came home from work and he asked are we going to run, and I said. ‘Ok, I’ll do it.’ ‘’
Crawford didn’t regret his decision.
“It was fantastic,” he said. “The race, I’ve never done anything like that, but I can do it again. It was really, really nice, and I had a real good time. The courtesy has been great, the city of Dallas is a lovely city, and I do love the Mavericks. This was right on time.”
Wilson also thought it was right on time for the Mavs to use this race as a venture to offer financial assistance to those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
“I’ve been behind the Mavericks for a long time, so anything they do I try to support it,” Wilson said. “As long as my knees and my Achilles can hold up, I’m doing it.”
Dan Henn also was emotionally moved that the participation by those in Thursday’s race would be for a good cause. Henn said: “It just makes me proud to know that the Mavs care not only about the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, but the entire state of Texas.”
King concurred, saying: “ It speaks to what the Mavericks community is as a whole, just the fact that even more people would come out to support the victims of Hurricane Harvey. That way their donation is made for a good cause – for a 5K with a purpose.”
“So you’re not just out here to have fun. But now you’re actually supporting a cause as well.”