KEMAH, TEXAS (September 18, 2016) – On a day where oppressive heat and humidity failed to spoil the morning of nearly 2,000 runners from 12 states and 126 Texas cities or towns, Houston's Luis Armenteros and Spring's Peggy Yetman led eight masters runners to this year's Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) Southern Region 10K titles with overall wins at Sunday's ninth annual Toughest 10K Kemah.
A record 1,962 finishers crossed the Toughest 10K Kemah finish line at the world famous Kemah Boardwalk to kickoff event producer Running Alliance Sport's sixth annual Texas Bridge Series, which includes two additional races over and back iconic southeast Texas bridges.
The Toughest 10K Galveston, on Saturday, October 15, 2016, and the La Porte By The Bay Half Marathon on Sunday, November 20, 2016, round out the Texas Bridge Series.
Just nine days shy of turning 44, Armenteros added this year's overall RRCA Southern Region 10K title to his medals chest after winning the last two RRCA Southern Region 10K Masters championships.
The former Rice Owl passed through the first mile in 5:12 -- five seconds behind Guiness World Records holder and last year's Toughest 10K Galveston champion Calum Neff, 32, of Katy, but Neff's calf seized up early in mile two forcing him out of the race and assuring Armtenteros' win in 35:41.
Yetman, 48, who returned to the greater Houston area in late February after stints in Arlington, Virginia and Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, added the Southern Region 10K crown to her ledger this year with a winning time of 40:19 after taking the RRCA Texas state 10K championship in March at Houston's Bayou City Classic 10K.
With today's victory, the 40-44 age group winner of the 2008 then-Ford Ironman World Championship at Kailua-Kona, Hawaii has won three of the greater Houston's area largest 10K's including the ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run 10K with 4,045 finishers.
Armenteros and Yetman both collected $150 for their overall wins.
Houston's Peter Lawrence, 44, and The Woodlands' Ronnie Delzer, 35, rounded out the men's top three with finishing times of 37:30 and 37:58, respectively, while former Texas Longhorn Julie Amthor Croley, 26, of Galveston, and Beaumont's Virginia Leonardi, 29, came through - behind Yetman - in 41:36 and 42:50.
Lawrence and Amthor Croley won $100 apiece, while Delzer and Leonardi went home with checks of $75 each.
Lawrence, who was the overall winner in 2013 and the masters winner in 2012, 2014 and 2015, was also declared the RRCA Southern Region 10K Masters champion as the first 40-and-older runner - besides Armenteros, the overall winner - to cross the finish line.
One of the world's best senior grandmasters runners, Houston's Sabra Harvey, 67, led all other masters females besides Yetman in a time of 44:32 to join Lawrence as the RRCA Southern Region 10K Masters champion.
Harvey was second overall a year ago in 44:09 and was the race's masters winner in 2013 in 43:34.
League City's Christopher Robbins, 41, was this year's men's masters winner in 40:12. He and Harvey both collected $75 for their masters wins.
Recent transfer to the greater Houston area Jose Olalla, 51, and Katy's Lynn Malloy, 56, secured the RRCA Southern Region 10K Grandmasters championship in 41:59 and 45:25, respectively.
Olalla, originally from Madrid, Spain, led last year's RRCA Southern Region 10K Grandmasters champion Tom Barbee, 53, of Kingwood by just more than a minute and a half. Malloy, meanwhile, repeated as the Grandmasters champion with a 45:29 effort -- improving by 16 seconds on last year's 55-59 division-best time in race history.
Houston's Bill Carr and Missouri City's Anesha Godden, both 61, are the RRCA Southern Region 10K Senior Grandmasters champions with performances of 48:15 and 59:27, respectively.
Olalla, Malloy, Carr and Godden all earned $50 for their efforts, part of the race's $1,000 in overall prize money.
First, second and third place finishers in all age groups who have online registration accounts with Running Alliance Sport will have 250, 200 and 150 RAS Perk Points, respectively, credited to their accounts, serving as a $10.50 to $17.50 discount on a future Running Alliance Sport race.
RRCA South Texas state representative Lee Greb was in attendance to present the winners their Southern Region championship medals.
San Jacinto College freshman and 2016 Clear Falls High School graduate Lindsay Roberts opened the race with the singing of the National Anthem while 2016 Miss Kemah Teen Skylar Bantz, who competes for the 2016 Miss Texas Teen title on Thanksgiving Weekend, was the race's special guest and helped hand out awards to all of the day's race winners.
The Toughest 10K Kemah, which featured four passes of the Kemah-Seabrook Bridge that included two north-to-south grades of 4.3 percent and a pair of south-to-north climbs of five percent, was created in 2008 by Running Alliance Sport founder Robby Sabban as a charity event after Hurricane Ike ravaged the Kemah Boardwalk and is first of the widely popular three-race Texas Bridge Series, which is in its sixth year.
The proceeds from the Toughest 10K Kemah – and the entire Texas Bridge Series -- go directly to The Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Inc., a Pasadena, Texas organization whose mission is to offer support, provide safety, and prevent domestic and sexual violence.
Since 2011, through its five races, including the Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon, Half Marathon and Relay, the Baytown Bud Heat Wave and the three Texas Bridge Series events, Running Alliance Sport donated more than $525,000 to local charities.
For more information about Running Alliance Sport and the upcoming races of the Texas Bridge Series, please visit www.runningalliancesport.org
About Running Alliance Sport
Based out of the greater Bay Area Houston area, Running Alliance Sport (RAS) is a not-for-profit event production company that has a passion for producing quality running events which in turn support local communities and its charities. RAS successfully works with city governments in Seabrook, Kemah, La Porte, Baytown, Galveston and Tiki Island to produce five races annually from March to November that engages nearly 500 volunteers, sends over 7,500 runners and walkers across finish lines and donated over $100,000 to local charities in 2015. For more information, please visit www.runningalliancesport.org