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Leo Manzano named race ambassador for 2016 Capitol 10,000

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Leo Manzano runs on the Butler Trail around Lady Bird Lake. Photo by Nell Carroll/Austin American-Statesman
Leo Manzano runs on the Butler Trail around Lady Bird Lake. Photo by Nell Carroll/Austin American-Statesman

Leo Manzano runs on the Butler Trail around Lady Bird Lake. Photo by Nell Carroll/Austin American-Statesman

 

Leo Manzano, who stormed down the homestretch to claim the silver medal in the 1,500 meters at the 2012 London Olympics, is teaming up with the Statesman Capitol 10,000 as official Race Ambassador.

If you need a jolt of inspiration to run the race, listen up.

Manzano grew up in a small town in Guanajuato, Mexico, with no electricity or running water, where boys were expected to work at an early age to help support the family. When he was 4 years old, Manzano’s family moved to Granite Shoals, near Marble Falls. His father worked as a machine operator at a gravel quarry and his mom held odd jobs while Manzano focused on school.

Leo Manzano, left, poses with Jeff Simecek, race director of the Statesman Capitol 10,000. Photo by Nell Carroll/

Leo Manzano, left, poses with Jeff Simecek, race director of the Statesman Capitol 10,000. Photo by Nell Carroll/

He started running with a track program the summer after sixth grade. Initially, his parents discouraged him because it seemed like a waste of time. But in seventh grade, he joined the cross-country team and quickly showed promise. During his four years at Marble Falls High School, where the track around the football stadium now bears his name, he won a total of nine Texas high school track and cross-country titles.

Manzano went on to become the first in his family to graduate from high school, then landed a track scholarship to the University of Texas, where he became a five-time NCAA champion and an 11-time NCAA All-American.

He raced at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 but was eliminated in the semifinals. He redeemed himself in 2012, coming from behind to take second and becoming the first American to medal in the 1,500 meters since Jim Ryun won silver in 1968.

At 5 foot 5 inches, Manzano is short for a track athlete, but he can run a mile faster than anyone in Austin. People say he has a Ferrari engine packed into a Pinto body. He’s known for his kick, that last-minute burst of speed that pushes him out of the pack and into the lead as he crosses the finish line.

“I am very excited and honored to have the opportunity to represent a race that means so much to so many of us,” Manzano said. “I invite everyone to come out, share their joy of running and support a race that makes a positive impact in the community with the generous support of local nonprofits and initiatives.”

The 2016 race is set for April 10. Registration opens Thursday here. A portion of proceeds will benefit The Trail Foundation.

“The Statesman Capitol 10,000 is an iconic race and Leo Manzano is an iconic runner,” said Jeff Simecek, Cap10K race director. “We couldn’t ask for a better pairing and representative for Austin’s beloved annual race. We look forward to working with Leo and to the 39th running of the Cap10K in 2016.”


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