Sergio Mena is one of the favorites in the men's half marathon in Dallas and he will cap a rigorous and rewarding fall by running his debut half marathon

Commerce’s Sergio Mena will cap a rigorous and rewarding fall by running his debut half marathon Sunday.

Mena, 25, took his final two exams, Tuesday and Thursday, to complete his master’s degree in business administration at Texas A&M-Commerce. His parents came from Spain on Wednesday to watch him walk the stage at Friday’s graduation ceremony. He hadn’t seen them in 18 months.

“I have no idea how I’m going to do everything,” Mena said by phone last weekend. “I’m going to try to stay calm. It’s exciting.”

On Sunday, he will be among the favorites to win the runDallas BMW Dallas Marathon half. It won’t be easy. Missouri City’s Richard Powell hopes to defend his title. Powell clocked a 1 hour, 8 minutes, 9 seconds last year.

Former Rice standout Gabe Cuadra placed second overall at the October 2019 Koala Health & Wellness Houston Half in 1:08:16. Dallas’ Cody Campbell and Drew Wiles also hope to be in the mix. Campbell’s half marathon personal best is a 1:10. He’s using Dallas as a tuneup for his goal race, the Jan. 19 Chevron Houston Marathon. Wiles, a former Woodrow Wilson standout, won the Dallas Running Club Half Marathon last month in 1:09:19.

Mena grew up in Cuenca, Spain, about an hour from Madrid. He didn’t run competitively until age 16. He quickly progressed under coach Alberto Fernandez Gil’s tutelage, racing internationally and earning a scholarship to Eastern Kentucky University.

He completed his undergraduate degree in three years so he used his final year of eligibility to run at A&M-Commerce while working and studying for his MBA. He wasn’t sure he’d continue running after he used up his NCAA eligibility.

His former coach, Luke Scribner, persuaded him to join the Nomad Running Society, a local running group designed to be inclusive and bring liked-minded runners together. It helped renew his passion for the sport. He also realized that running provided structure to his days and balanced the stress of work and school.

“I need it,” Mena said of running. “I was doing it just for fun. I wasn’t caring how long or how many miles.”

In late summer, Mena decided to make the Dallas half his goal race. His training has gone well. He finished the eight-mile Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot in 41:47, just 25 seconds behind three-time champion Tyler McCandless, of Boulder, Colo., an Olympic Trials qualifier in the marathon.

posted Saturday December 14th
by Debbie Fetterman