By DEBBIE FETTERMAN Special Contributor - Dallas Morning News
Dallas’ Dawn Grunnagle has earned many accolades as a professional runner. On Sunday, she added her first RRCA National Half Marathon Champion title to her résumé at the Dallas Running Club Half Marathon. She won the women’s race in 1:24:44, nearly 10 minutes ahead of runner-up Rachael Sanchez of Van Alstyne, TX.
“I am always thankful for a win,” said Grunnagle, a two-time U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier. “Being the DRC Half makes it that much more special. It felt like family out there on the course.”
Grunnagle, who turns 40 later this month, integrated the race into a 22-mile training effort. She ran 6 miles before the race, timing it so she would be done right before the actual race started.
During the race, her training plan called for 5 miles at 6:40 per mile. Then, she alternated running a faster mile, at 6:15 per mile pace, with a 6:40 mile, the final 8 miles.
Grunnagle trains at White Rock Lake every week, so she’s familiar with most of the DRC Half course. She welcomed the rolling hills, using them as preparation for next month’s challenging California International Marathon (CIM). She’s in the midst of high-mileage training preparing for the CIM, the 2017 USA Track & Field Marathon Championship race.
The men’s champion, Mason Frank of Denver, also used the race as CIM training.
He surged ahead of the pack when the starting horn sounded and never looked back. He finished in 1:13:28, eight minutes ahead of Dallas’ Jose Lopez, 32.
Frank, a 2016 Olympic Trials qualifier in the marathon, has run a 2:18 personal best in the marathon. He said his finish time was slower than he had anticipated, but he attributed it to the unseasonably hot temperatures and humidity. Frank, a high school math teacher, said he had run more than 100 miles this week.
He and his girlfriend, who lives in San Francisco, met in Dallas to spend the weekend together. The DRC Half was a bonus, so he registered late last week. In addition to the running, the couple toured AT&T Stadium and participated in the Dallas Cowboys’ Rally Day activities on Saturday.
After the race, they were headed to The Stockyards for the cattle drive.
Grunnagle praised the DRC and its team of volunteers, including race director Sean Jett, and his wife, Erin, the club’s marketing director, who assisted with race operations.
RRCA National Championship: Mitchell Garner, the RRCA president, was on hand to present the men’s and women’s overall, masters (40+), grand masters (50+) and senior masters (60+) winners with their RRCA Half Marathon National Championship medals.
Garner, a lifelong runner, placed third in the men’s 65-69 age group in the 5K.
He said Dallas is special because he was elected RRCA president when the national convention was in Dallas in March 2016.
“The DRC is one of the pillars of the RRCA,” Garner said. “The thing that is beautiful is that this is an all-volunteer effort.”