AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin returned to running Sunday morning with the 2021 Ascension Seton Austin Half Marathon, 14 months after the 2020 event.
Pushed from its normal spot on the schedule in February due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was converted to a half marathon and organizers limited the field to around 6,500 runners. Additionally, the normal finish line festivities were scrubbed to provide adequate social distancing.
The finish line may not have been brimming with spectators, but it was still a sweet celebration for Jordan West and Michelle Murray.
West won the Elite Men’s race, becoming the first runner to cross the finish line Sunday morning with a time of 1:07:30. West currently lives in Waco after a collegiate running career at Baylor University.
According to his bio on Baylor’s athletic site, West ran cross country and track and field for the Bears from 2014 to 2017.
While the atmosphere was different compared to previous years, West says the support of limited spectators, including his parents, made the difference.
“I ran in Austin in 2019. That was my favorite atmosphere that I’ve ever had before. This year, even with the COVID precautions, it was fun to see the spectators back out there. During this time, I took it as an opportunity to train. I had a lot of time at home. I used that extra time to train,” West said.
Michelle Murray was first to cross the finish line for the Elite Women’s category, clocking in at 1:24:22, which she says is a personal best.
“It was awesome. I definitely want to do this race again. I had a great group of guys who were pacing me for the first half of the race. They were super encouraging. I was feeling great so I went for it at mile 9-ish and I took it with everything I had. I’m really proud of myself,” Murray said.
Murray is a New York native, making her first appearance in the Austin race.
Both runners mentioned the challenge of the hilly Austin course, but said the cool Sunday morning weather made for ideal conditions.
Check here for the full list of Austin Half Marathon results.