Olympic-caliber runner Zoila Gomez called Edinburg's All-America City 10K a 'hardcore challenge,' but said she loves the town following her performance at the city's annual race, which took place on Feb. 6.
Gomez said she would jump at the chance to participate again in the race in Edinburg, which she said brings a sense of family to runners who are not familiar with the area.
"This is a hardcore challenge," Gomez said, following the race. "I would say that if you're going to come to Edinburg to race, you're going to come because you're set for the challenge. As fit as you are, that will help, but it's going to be your mentality. It becomes a mental game rather than a physiological one."
The combination of humidity and wind, especially at the three mile marker, can be especially challenging for runners, said Gomez, who has competed in races all over the world, including the World Championships in Berlin, where she ranked 51st among all top females. Gomez was also a step away from competing in the 2008 Olympics when she placed 4th at the U.S.A. Olympic Trails in Boston.
Gomez finished the 10K 26th overall, and fifth place among female runners, with a time of 35:13.3.
"The first part of the race is tricky because it's nice, and the wind is at your back. So you can go as if you're feeling like 100 percent. The humidity doesn't hit because your not tired, but once you hit the 3 mile mark and you turn around and the wind is in your face, and your body is already feeling the effects of the humidity, then forget it," Gomez said.
"If you went out too fast, then you're going to pay the price when dehydration kicks in. If you made a mistake, then there is no going back. How are you going to compensate over the next few miles when the wind is in your face," she said.
More than 2,000 runners participated at this year's 28th Annual Edinburg All-America City 10K Run/Walk. Macdonard Ondara, from Kenya, took the top prize with a time of 28:58 followed by Alfred Cherop, 29:32, and Valley native Westly Keating, who clocked in at 29:38.
Shewarge Alene placed first overall in the female division with a time of 33:37.6. Olympic hopeful Tera Moody, from Boulder Colo. placed 27 overall, and finished a step behind Gomez with at time of 35:12.
"I heard my name several times and if someone is reading this, I want to tell that person 'thank you' because it feels like your family is telling you 'you're not alone, and we're here with you'. I really appreciate that," Gomez said "I remember one man saying 'go, mija go' and I just thought 'someone called me me mija' that's the cutest thing ever. I know from the bottom of his heart, he wanted me to have a good race."
Gomez said she would participate in Edinburg's 10K again despite the challenges, if she had the chance.
"If it's in my schedule, and if there is another opportunity, I would love to come back. I wouldn't even think twice. I love the town," Gomez said. "I love the fact that we get the opportunity to come and talk to kids. I saw a lot of them before the race, and I could tell in their faces that they were proud to know us. That tells me that I am making a difference in their lives."