AZLE — On Saturday, Nov. 4, athletes and amateurs alike gathered by the dozens to run a half-marathon before most people even had breakfast. For 42 years, the Azle Lake Run has been a mainstay in raising funds for local community organizations, promoting fitness and just letting people get out and have fun. Runners from under 8 to over 80 enjoyed the day’s multiple races, vendors and performances from the Azle High School percussion band section starting before 7:30 a.m.
It was 43-year-old Alberto Castro’s first time at the Azle Lake Run and while he saw the hilly terrain as a challenge, he still came in second place overall in the half-marathon.
“It’s a good race,” Castro said. “It has a lot of hills, but it’s a nice, good course.”
Erika Mason, 32-years-old, was the overall winner for the half-marathon at 1 hour, 19 minutes and 20.66 seconds. Mason was able to average a 6-minute mile for over 13 miles. Mason, from North Fort Worth, is used to traveling wide and far for races but sees the Lake Run as conveniently located yet surprisingly testing. With the race just a short drive from her home, she was thankful not to have to deal with the extra stresses of traveling or staying in a motel.
“It’s a great course, it’s very challenging,” Mason said. “It was unexpected. I didn’t think I was going to win it. I thought I’d maybe be the first girl, but not first overall. I’m just using it as a training run for an upcoming race in December. I’m trying to requalify for the Olympic trials. So, we’ll see how that goes. Today was a little tougher than I thought it was going to be, but I like how tough the course was.”
2023 Olympic marathon trials will take place Feb. 3 in Orlando, Florida. Mason has been trying to requalify for the Olympic trials for two years, after she qualified and ran a 2 hour and 42-minute marathon in the 2020 marathon team trials in Atlanta, Georgia.
“I had my son a couple years ago and I’ve just been struggling trying to race a marathon, but it’s getting better over time,” Mason said. “It was nice to kind of come and do a local race. The coolest thing about this race is that when we first started, we saw about 30 deer. It was beautiful.”
This year, the race saw record participation in the 5K with 218 runners. There were 428 registrants in total, 68 of which were half-marathoners, 60 were in the 10K, and 82 ran in the one-mile color fun run. While the Azle Lake Run saw quite a few new racers, there was also no shortage of familiar faces present. Married couple Melody Chapa, 32, and Robert Chapa, 35, have placed in at least the top five for the 5K for the last three years and have hovered near the front of the pack since 2018. This year the Chapas placed third and fifth, with Melody being the first female racer to cross the finish line in her category.
Jessica Brace Payne and Mendi Carlson, who have organized the race on behalf of the Azle Area Ministerial Alliance since 2019, were thrilled with the turnout and the day’s mild weather.
“It’s been really great. Every year, it gets bigger and better,” Carlson said. “We love the support and we’re thankful for our sponsors and that we can help the community.”
Proceeds from the Azle Lake Run benefit the Eagle Mountain Pregnancy Help Center, the Community Caring Center, Azle High School’s Marching Green Pride, and other initiatives of the Azle Area Ministerial Alliance.