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Van Ord, Pennel headline Houston Marathon, Ford wins Virginia Tech Invitational

By David Rogers. HOUSTON, Texas — Kenya, Ethiopia and Japan were well-represented at the top of the men’s and women’ leaderboards of the Houston Marathon, but few professional road racing teams matched Blowing Rock’s ZAP Endurance.

It was a warm, “muggy” day in south Texas’ major city, Houston, but that hardly mattered to Appalachian State alum and ZAP Endurance team member Tristin Van Ord, the top American finisher in 4th place of the Women’s Division of the Houston Marathon. Meanwhile, ZAP veteran marathoner Tyler Pennel finished the 26.2 mile course in 5th place among the men (and overall), just five seconds behind fourth place finisher Parker Stinson of Broomfield, Colo., and roughly a minute and a half behind race leader Dominic Ondoro of Kenya.

Tristin Van Ord, Tyler Pennel and Whitney Macon all had big days for ZAP Endurance at the Houston Marathon and Houston Half Marathon (Macon). Photo courtesy of ZAP Endurance

“It was a great day for our race team,” said ZAP Endurance head coach Pete Rea after the race, “and both of these are feel good stories. Tristin completed the course in 2 hours, 27 minutes and seven seconds, which is almost two and half minutes faster than the previous best she set in Rotterdam last April.

“And Tyler,” Rea continued. “By running today’s course in 2:12:16, Tyler improved on his previous personal best set at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Atlanta, in 2020. That, and he was the third American finisher behind Teshome Mekonen of New York and Parker Stinson of Colorado.”

Van Ord’s fourth place was from among 2,176 female competitors in the marathon and while Pennel finished fifth overall, Van Ord finished 47th overall vs. the 6,088 men and women athletes entered.

Van Ord, right, was asked to review the race and her performance as the top American in the post-game press conference with the other top performers. Photo courtesy of ZAP Endurance

Pennel ran the 26.2 miles at a 5:03 mile pace, while Van Ord’s pace was at 5:37. Both Pennel and Van Ord have met their respective qualifying standards in order to compete in the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials, aiming to make the U.S. Olympic Team competing in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Another ZAP team member in Houston was Whitney Macon, the newest member of the team getting her competitive feet wet in the Houston half marathon. Macon finished in a time of 1:14:19, a little more than two minutes over the U.S. Olympic Trials – Marathon qualifying standard of 1:12. At Houston, Macon finished 32nd among the 6,559 women competing in the half marathon.

Ryan Ford wins Virginia Tech Invitational

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Putting an exclamation point on ZAP Endurance’s day, middle- to longer-distance specialist Ryan Ford captured first place honors earlier during the weekend in the Men’s 3,000 meters event of the Virginia Tech Invitational.

Ford was among 21 athletes primarily from colleges and universities and finished the course in 8:05.09, more than six seconds ahead of second place Paul Specht, a freshman at Wake Forest (8:11.44). Third place was secured by Army West Point senior Garrett Gough (8:13.39).

Other athletes competing were from Virginia Tech, Liberty, Charlotte, and four unattached runners.


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