Bishop Dunne Vice Principal Stephen Guerrero Runs His Most Challenging Race
Cross Country and Wrestling Coach Stephen Guerrero finished his 20th marathon on November 7th in a spectacular way.
He didn’t win the race, but admitted it was a highlight of his racing career. He’s been running since he was in high school. His first marathon was the White Rock Marathon back in 1996. But no race he’d ever run prepared him for the Moab Marathon.
“It was crazy,” Coach Guerrero said, “It was more like a rock climbing marathon – very rugged terrain – including ladders to get to different parts of the course.” The 26.2 mile course even included crawling through culverts. Guerrero said he thought to himself, “Please God, take care of me.” He had to slow down his normal pace to ensure his own safety. “I didn’t expect the toughness of the course,” he admitted.
The Moab Utah Marathon site is known for its “WOW factor,” and Coach Guerrero agreed the course was both unique and wild. Runners travelled through the canyons around Moab, including narrow canyons with spectacular vertical walls on both sides and along the rim-tops of deep canyons with amazing vistas in every direction. The terrain of the race changed frequently, from a narrow single-track lane to rugged jeep trails, sandy washes, “Moab-style slick rock,” a short section of dirt road, a few sections of no-track, a very old mining trail, and a couple of sections of fixed line traverse.
The course included the spectacular red rocks of “Behind the Rocks Wilderness” and “Amasa Back” area, also views of the sheer vertical walls of Pritchett, Hunter, and Kane Creek Canyons and views into Canyonlands National Park. In the distance are the beautiful 12,000 foot La Sal Mountains. Coach Guerrero passed by several arches, lots of lizards, some really cool and funny looking rocks, eagles and hawks, some neat ancient pictographs, a couple of small creeks and springs, and some friendly aid station volunteers who were there to hydrate and fuel the runners in some of the craziest spots!
Included in the race course were two major climbs, one at the beginning which was nice and gradual, and one just after the mid-way point which was shorter and steeper. There were also several other short climbs and descents throughout the course.
Coach Guerrero has been running marathons just about every year since his first one, but nothing like this last one.
He’d been training every day of the week, typically running five to eight miles per weekday, with a longer run on Sunday. “I’ve been training along with Austin Yeager, our 2011 graduate now running for UNT, Chris Green from the BD class of 2000, the Bishop Dunne Cross Country team, Coaches Kevin Braun and Chris MacClellan, and my Oak Cliff friend Dave Spence,” he explained.
In addition, Guerrero spent much of the last year running with Mark Thompson, a high school friend he met in their freshman year at Bishop Lynch. The two have been running buddies ever since.
“Mark and I try to do a different marathon each year. Last year we ran in the Abilene Marathon, the year before in Arkansas,” says Guerrero.
Neither had ever been to the Utah. And neither understood just what he was getting into. “I didn’t know rope climbing was really a part of the marathon course until I was actually doing it!” laughs Guerrero. In addition to the tough terrain, there was the high altitude to deal with. “Just breathing was tough,” Guerrero admitted. Elevation in Dallas is 430 feet; the elevation “gain and loss” of this race is about 3,500, beginning far above the Dallas elevation, so a total of about 5000 feet higher than Guerrero is used to. “It was the greatest experience of my life, but I’ll never run it again!” Guerrero acknowledges.
He’s looking toward the future, possibly running the New York Marathon next year with Mr. Thompson. The streets of New York City will be a cakewalk compared to the mountains – and culverts – of Utah.
But Coach Guerrero will be ready.
“Lay aside every weight, and … let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).