Some in the 2020 elite field are running their final tune-up before the Olympic Marathon Trials

Elite runners love the 3M Half Marathon course! It’s known for being one of the country’s faster half marathon courses. Elites run 3M Half Marathon presented by Under Armour to secure fast times, obtain PRs, try new hydration/nutrition plans, and/or prepare for the Ascension Seton Austin Marathon or Austin Half Marathon. There are even runners in the 2020 elite field who will run 3M Half Marathon as their final tune-up before the Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta! Come out and support these elites as they give their all!

Jess Harper

Image of Jess Harper as she crosses the 2019 3M Half Marathon finish line as the female champ. She is the 2018 and 2019 female champ and will run with the 2020 elite field.

Jess Harper plans to three-peat as 3M Half Marathon female champ!

Harper returns to defend her 2019 3M Half Marathon title! She is the back-to-back female champ (2018-’19). On January 20, 2019, Harper finished with a time of 1:14:23, an 88-second improvement from her 2018 time of 1:15:45. She ran collegiately at The University of Texas from 2011-13. When she’s not traveling, you can find her running around Austin!

Bryan Morton

Morton finished fourth overall at the 2019 3M Half Marathon (1:08:14) even though he had to stop at one point to re-tie his shoe. One month later, he was part of a trio who paced female elites to the Olympic Marathon Trials B Standard at the 2019 Ascension Seton Austin Marathon presented by Under Armour.

Jared Carson

Image of Jared Carson, the 2016 3M Half Marathon champ. He will run with the 2020 elite field before the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials.

Jared Carson is the 2016 3M Half Marathon champ.

Carson is the 2016 3M Half Marathon champ, winning in 1:08:23. He and his family called Austin home for years before moving to Portland, Oregon. Carson, his wife, and their son visit Austin as often as they can. This will be Carson’s final tune-up before the Olympic Marathon Trials.

Taylor Dare

Dare resides in Fort Worth, Texas, with her husband of two years. She qualified for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials by running a 2:42:17 at 2019 Grandma’s Marathon. She’s in graduate school working towards her Doctorate of Physical Therapy. Dare runs with Forth Worth Distance Project. She was accepted to the Austin Half Marathon Elite Athlete Program and the Austin Half Marathon will be her final tune-up before the Olympic Marathon Trials.

David Fuentes

Image of David Fuentes in his Hoka One One gear. He will run with the 2020 elite field at the 3M Half Marathon.

David Fuentes is a 3x Austin Half Marathon champ.

Fuentes was on the gold-medal-winning US team at the 2016 World Mountain Running Championships. He also has three Austin Half Marathon titles to his name. Fuentes made his half marathon debut at the 2010 3M Half Marathon. He logs his miles in the morning, is a software developer during the day, and a vintage vehicle restorer by night. This will be Fuentes’ final tune-up before the Olympic Marathon Trials.

Mark Pinales

Pinales is the 2017 3M Half Marathon champ (1:06:51). He was raised in Round Rock, Texas, just north of Austin. Pinales ran at The University of Texas. You can often find him running around town. Pinales also mentors Austin youth and volunteer coaches runners at Austin High.

Cate Barrett

Barrett is a native Austinite who ran the 1500m and 5K for the Baylor Bears track team. You can catch her riding her bike around town or running with her husband Jake, who is a member of the Austin Marathon pacer team. Barrett has a 2:43 marathon PR that she set in 2018. This will be Barrett’s final tune-up before the Olympic Marathon Trials.

Sarah Bishop

Image of Sarah Bishop running a race. She will run with the 2020 elite field at the 3M Half Marathon presented by Under Armour.

Bishop will run 3M Half Marathon as her final tune-up before the Olympic Marathon Trials.

Bishop is a former active duty Air Force Lieutenant and current mother of four. She re-started her running career five years ago and qualified for the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials. Bishop recently turned to triathlon and placed second in the 35-39 age group at the 70.3 World Championships. This will be Bishop’s final tune-up before the Olympic Marathon Trials.

Hattie Schunk

Schunk played soccer collegiately at Texas Tech University. She eventually followed her passion and joined the Red Raider cross-country and track teams. She was academic All-Big 12 and a Mountain regional qualifier every year she was on the team. In 2018, Schunk was Tech’s nominee for NCAA Woman of the Year. Like her sister Sofie, Hattie is chasing an Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying time. She is currently is grad school at the University of Texas working towards her PhD in chemical engineering. Sofie is her sister.

Sofie Schunk

Image Sofie Schunk running a race on an open field. Schunk will run with the 2020 elite field at the 2020 3M Half Marathon presented by Under Armour.

Schunk is co-founder of Diabetes Sports Project.

Schunk grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as a multi-sport athlete, eventually playing soccer at Marquette University. She was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 16. She has since mastered and controlled her diabetes enough to run a 2:49:07 at 2019 CIM. Schunk is also the co-founder of the Diabetes Sports Project, a platform for others to be active with diabetes without fear. One of her main goals is to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials while she continues her career in biomedical engineering research. Hattie is her sister.

Kaitlyn Johnson

Johnson is a grad student at the University of Texas studying biomedical engineering. Her research is focused on using math and computational tools to improve how they understand, predict, and optimize cancer treatments. She joined Rogue Running in 2017 and loves being a part of the Austin running community. She ran 1:24:02 at 2018 3M Half Marathon.

Philippe Rolly

Image of Philippe Rolly with hands in the air, about to cross a finish line. Rolly will run with the 2020 elite field at the 2020 3M Half Marathon presented by Under Armour.

Rolly was named 2018 USATF Masters LDR Grand Champion in the M45-49.

Rolly was born in France and moved to the US in 1998. He is a Physical Therapist at Georgetown Hospital and has three kids. In 2018, he was named the USATF Masters LDR Grand Champion in the M45-49 age group. He recently ran a 2:32:18 at 2018 CIM.

Ryan Normand

Normand is originally from Phoenix, Arizona. He now calls Pflugerville home. He ran track and cross-country for Arizona State from 2014-2018. Normand began running marathons and half marathons soon after. He recently ran a 2:29:13 at 2019 Grandma’s Marathon and will compete in the 2019 Austin Marathon elite field.

Ben Munguia

Image of Ben Munguia and his wife Lauren overlooking a skyline. Munguia will run with the 2020 elite field at the 2020 3M Half Marathon presented by Under Armour.

Ben and Lauren, his wife.

Munguia has called Austin home for 13 years. He’s primarily a triathlete, winning the 2017 Kerrville Triathlon half distance in 4:16:27. He recently ran a 1:16:39 at the 2019 3M Half Marathon. He lives with his wife, their 18-month-old daughter, and his favorite running buddy, Tucker the Vizsla.

Sarah Jackson

Jackson is an Austinite who will run with the 3M Half Marathon elites before she runs in the Austin Marathon elite field. The 2020 Austin Marathon will be her 14th. She ran a 2:58:41 at the 2018 Austin Marathon.

The 23rd Annual 3M Half Marathon, produced by High Five Events, endured high, gusty winds on Sunday, January 22nd. The fierce winds didn’t stop the elite men and women from putting in some speedy times or deter hundreds of participants from PRing on one of the nation’s faster half marathon courses.

Happy finishers.

More than 6300 participants registered for the race also known as Downhill to Downtown. Other than the forecasted high winds, the weather was perfect for running. Runners toed the start line at 7:30 a.m. and begin their race to the Texas State Capitol. Navigating their way downtown, runners enjoyed a fully supported course, complete with eight fully stocked aid stations featuring nuun hydration, a CLIF Bar CLIF Zone, and thousands of cheering spectators with hilarious signs.

“I had heard many great things about Downhill to Downtown and am thrilled at the outcome of my first race on this course,” said Samantha Stubbs, who PR’ed along with hundreds of other runners. “This event was very organized, well-supported, and the volunteers were beyond amazing.”

Lauren Smith Stroud (1:17:07) was the overall female winner; with Nora Colligan (1:17:27) and Brooke Slayman (1:18:03) finishing second and third. The top three female Master’s finishers were Chris Kimbrough (1:23:00), Tammy Bogle (1:25:07), and Christina Hughes Babb (1:29:06).

2017 3M Half Marathon Male Champion, Mark Pinales.

Mark Pinales (1:06:51) crossed the finish line first. Adam Waldum (1:08:49) and Daniel Glaz (1:09:03) completed the overall men’s field, respectively. The male Master’s finishing in the top three consisted of: Kevin Kimbell (1:15:55), Hernan Rozemburg (1:16:06), Steven Hernandez (1:16:45).

“The race was much windier than expected, but it was amazing running with so many of the local guys,” said overall champ, Mark Pinales. “I’m humbled to take the win in my hometown. This race will be another crucial piece of the puzzle leading up to the Austin Marathon.”

Participants can see their results on the website and continue to share their amazing experiences on the 3M Half Marathon’s social media channel. For those planning ahead to January 21, 2018, next year’s registration is open and set at the low price of $65. This amazing deal will be available until January 25th. Runners can find their race day photos on Search for ‘3M Half Marathon 2017’ and enter your last name or bib number.

Team CBS Austin.

The 3M Half Marathon boasts one of the fastest 13.1-mile courses in the country and will open registration for 2018 on Monday, January, 23rd. Runners will enjoy a point-to-point course with mostly downhill running that showcases some of Austin’s finest locations. Starting in north Austin and finishing in front of the Texas State Capitol, runners will appreciate a 306’ net elevation drop.

Make sure to watch us in the news. Who knows, you might be in the segment!

FOX7, Spectrum News Austin, and KXAN.

On Saturday, January 5th, William Dyson, of High Five Events, continued to bring in the New Year with Mark Pinales, an Austinite and up-and-coming elite endurance athlete who qualified for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials. They discussed his upcoming race, the 3M Half Marathon, and covered everything from his recent string of victories to his favorite running memory of all time.

Follow Mark and his growth as an elite endurance runner on Facebook and Instagram. Check out his awards and recognitions at the end!

William Dyson – To say you were busy in 2016 would be an understatement. How have you been this successful?

Mark Pinales – My main focus this training block has been and continues to be staying healthy. I’m focusing on post-race recovery and making sure I take care of my body the right way. It’s been the biggest key to my success. I try to focus on my hard days being hard and taking down time as needed to get my body back to where it feels ready to push just a bit more.

WD – You’re an Austin guy, born and raised. What did it mean to run here while at The University of Texas and what does it mean to run Austin races as an elite?

MP – Coming out of high school, UT wasn’t one of my picks at all. But then I arrived on campus, met the team, felt the environment, and fell in love. I especially loved having family close and being close to home. My family got to watch all of my home meets. Running as an elite here in Austin is perfect. I get to have some local races under my belt and become acquainted with Austin roads. 2016’s goal was to stay here, make my name bigger in Austin running community. In 2017, I want to branch out and test my ability at races across the country.

WD – You’re participating in the Austin Runners Club’s Distance Challenge. Why did you sign up for that instead of focusing on a select few key races?

MP – My mom and dad are runners. My mom has been really getting back into it running lately. She registered for the 80s 8K. I knew Iram from some previous engagements. He basically told me to do ADC, I checked into it and built ADC into my running schedule. The main goal for this series of races was to prepare for the Austin marathon on the home course and use them as solid training races.

WD – As a part of the Austin Distance Challenge you’ll run the 3M Half Marathon. But this is also the final long distance race that you’ll use as a tuneup for the Austin Marathon. Without giving away any top secrets, what’s your plan for downhill to downtown?

MP – There are no real big secrets. In the beginning I will probably follow the pack, make sure my gears are moving the way I want, hit my paces. If I’m feeling good I might pick it up to get the feel for the end of a big race. My ultimate goal is to come out healthy and ready to go for the Austin Marathon.

WD – Austin Marathon presented by NXP. February 19, 2017: Your marathon debut. After hearing that out loud, tell me what immediately goes through your head.

MP – I get this feeling of excitement, sprinkled with a little bit of nerves. The nerves have more to do with my nutrition plan, potential bathroom breaks, and how to properly pace myself for a 26-mile race. If I can go in healthy and prepared, I’ll be ready to go.

WD – Congratulations on being accepted into the Austin Marathon’s Elite Athlete Program! How’s your marathon-specific training so far and what are your race-day goals?

MP – My training has been going well. Lately, it has been down with holidays, travel, etc. The break has actually been beneficial as I’m notorious for over preparing. To win my first marathon during my debut, especially in Austin, would be phenomenal. I’m looking forward to a battle with the other talented runners in the Elite Field. In the end, I will run my own race, do my own dance. I want my own game plan that gets me close to the time I want.

WD – The RunLab Elite team won the 2016 Marathon Relay with a time of 2:23:36. Has it sunk in that Mark Pinales wants to run the Austin Marathon faster than that by himself?

MP – HA! Not really; I’m just excited about the opportunity, especially with this being my marathon debut. I’m still unsure of what to expect, but I feel supremely confident with the my training,

WD – How are you training mentally to race your first marathon?

MP – Essentially training by myself. Sometimes I’ll run with Leo (Manzano) and Gilbert’s Gazelles (casually). The great thing about training in Austin is there’s always someone to run with. I do my workouts on my own for the most part. They are long and intense. I like to push myself mentally so I can stay mentally tough during the race. I’m making it as difficult on myself NOW, so that I’m prepared for anything on race day. I hope to run with the pack, but I know that doesn’t happen all the time.

WD – After the Austin Marathon, what race is next on your spring calendar?

MP – I’ll take at least two weeks of easy running afterwards. I’m aiming for March 11, Gate River Run (15K USATF Championships), and April 29,OhioHealth Capital City Half Marathon (USATF Half Marathon Championships).

WD – Some people give advice to their future self in preparation for a race. Knowing what you know now, if you could go back in time, what advice would you give your high school running self?

MP – I’d tell myself to figure out the work-to-running balance in college (much sooner); give yourself more time; don’t expect the world so quickly; understand everything is a process; don’t regret anything. I’m grateful of where life has led me to where I am today.

WD – Up to this point, what has been your favorite running memory?

MP – Hands down, it has to be a run with now current girlfriend (Katie) in Seattle (all through the bayside, city, seas). We knew each other, went off on a long run, got to know one another, and truly bonded. Out of all the wins, that run sticks out the most.

WD – You’ve got a great, flexible job and sponsorships with Skechers Performance and RunLab Austin. What does that do for an athlete both mentally and physically?

MP – I’m appreciative of all the backing from Skechers and RunLab. Without them I wouldn’t have the support system I need or be as healthy as I am. I’m glad they’re in my corner. As for my job, the flexibility truly helps with devoting time to both my career and running goals.

WD – What’s the toughest obstacle you’ve had to overcome as a runner?

MP – The mental barrier. I just recently discovered the ability to push myself past my comfort zone. Running comes naturally for me. I enjoy my great workouts, but during a race, pushing past my comfort zone is tough. There have only been two times where I’ve felt completely out of my comfort zone: Stanford 10K as freshmen and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly Half in 2015 in which I qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials. I’ve begun to embrace becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable.

WD – You’re fresh out of college and still relatively young. What are your future running and life goals?

MP – Running goals: I haven’t set any precise long-term goal as of yet. I feel like I have five to seven years of elite running left. Generally speaking, I want to get faster, win bigger races, place high at bigger races, and create a respectable legacy. Life goals: be successful career-wise, be at high enough position to live comfortably, run financial services firm, and eventually open up my own office.

WD – What motivates you to run?

MP – Katie (girlfriend) is a big motivator. My parents are big motivators as well. I want to make them proud and don’t want to fail them. Failing my parents scares me. I want to do right by them and create a legacy for the family both in running and in life. I’m one of the last males with the last name Pinales and my grandfather, another motivating factor, is pumped at what the Pinales name has been able to achieve in life so far.

WD – What has running given you?

MP – Running has given me an avenue to reinvent myself, build something more than what I originally was. Running has given me ability to improve, push past my limits, grow as a person. Running has provided me with internal and external discipline. The planning, the scheduling, being consistent, it all transfers and is applicable to my life. Running has helped me grow and mature more than I ever imagined.

WD – Favorite place to run in Austin?

MP – This is a good one. I’d have to say running through the hills of Austin. Stratford is a good example. I love going out there to run and look at all the beautiful homes.

WD – Favorite non-running activity?

MP – There are several! I really like to play guitar. Reading, especially self-development stuff. I really enjoy learning new things, so any time I can absorb something new I jump at the opportunity. Lastly, music… I enjoy R&B, both listening and playing. Avant and Musiq Soulchild are a couple of my favorites.

WD – How do you relax and unwind?

MP – I relax and unwind by doing absolutely nothing. Lounging around is one of my favorite things to do! Naps, when available, are perfect for relaxing. I have a rule: anything less than two hour naps aren’t considered real naps!

WD – Favorite in-race (training) hydration/nutrition.

MP – For hydration – water and Gatorade. I constantly making sure I have enough electrolytes. For nutrition – Clif Shots – vanilla. Christina with Clif Bar introduced me to them and I’ve been enjoying them ever since!

WD – Favorite Austin restaurant?

MP – Pint House Pizza (38th St.) and there’s no second-guessing.

WD – Describe the perfect post-race meal (in Austin).

MP – Anything that’s not relatively healthy. Give me all the pizzas, burgers, cookies, and brownies I can handle!

WD – Morning or evening runs?

MP – Morning for sure. While I don’t like waking up early, I do like getting my morning run out of the way. If my schedule allows, I’ll double up in the evening if possible.

WD – Solo or group runs?

MP – I prefer solo runs. They build up mental toughness. I enjoy listening to music while running alone. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy people and being around them, but when it comes to serious running, solo runs are me.

WD – Mark, thanks again for coming by our office. It’s been great getting to dig a little deeper into who Mark Pinales is and who Mark Pinales will become. You’re making quite a name for yourself and I’m appreciative of you giving us your time. You’ve got a bright future ahead and we’re excited to see what you can do! We’ll see you at the Downhill to Downtown start line this Sunday.

MP – William, thank you and High Five Events for having me over. I enjoyed our conversation. I’m really looking forward to giving my best at the 3M Half Marathon (1/22) and the Austin Marathon (2/19). I can’t wait to no longer say “marathon debut!” We’ll see you this Sunday. I look forward to running with the other elites. Should be a great race!


Staying Vertical is an interview session with various individuals within the endurance community hosted by William Dyson, High Five Events Communications Manager. Staying Vertical will showcase the perspective of runners, triathletes, sponsors, partners, event producers, and volunteers to understand what makes them tick. We will highlight their involvement and give the endurance community an inside look into the individuals that are just like you and me.

Awards and Recognitions –

2016 – Decker Challenge Champ (1:08:13 – course record)

2016 – San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Champ (1:05:25)

2016 – YMCA Dallas Turkey Trot Champ [8 Miler] (40:21)

2016 – Run for the Water Champ (51:56)

2016 – 80s 8K Champ (26:56)

2016 – Marathon Relay Champs (2:23:36 – RunLab Elite)

2016 – Olympic Trials Qualifier

Two-time All-Big 12, cross country (The University of Texas)

Running the 3M Half Marathon? Read what these professional endurance athletes have to say.

Several athletes who have been accepted to the Austin Marathon’s Elite Athlete Program are running the 3M Half Marathon as a final tune-up before race day. They’re using this race to test various race strategies, lock in their hydration and nutrition plans, and attempt to PR (like many of you!).

The following athletes (marathon and half marathon champs, Olympic Trials Qualifiers, and Masters’ Elites) have provided tips to get you to race day and help you perform better on race day.

Mark Pinales.

Mark Pinales – “Always maintain positive self-talk. Tell yourself out loud that it will hurt, that it will be tough, and that it will push you. Most importantly, tell yourself that you can do this and that you are good enough. Something I say to myself throughout the race to calm my mind is, “Relax, stay focused, and keep pushing.” This will program your mind to be ready for the pain and help you embrace it, knowing the ultimate reward is at the finish.” (2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Half Marathon Champ)

Chris Kimbrough – “Stay confident in your fitness. You’ve put in the training and hard work so stay focused on the goal!” (owns Masters’ titles in the 8K, 10K, and Club XC)

Joel Harris – “Be free and have fun!” (2016 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon Champ)

Becki Spellman (cover photo) – “When motivation is lacking make yourself go just one mile, and more times than not you’ll end up feeling more motivated and get in the entire run. If not at least you went for a run!” (3X Olympic Trials Qualifier)

Do you have any training tips you want to share with other participants? Share them on our Facebook or Twitter page and we will make sure they get passed along! Use #downhilltodowntown17.