The teacher ruled the roost at the 2018 End of the Trail Half Marathon on a chilly Saturday morning that challenged Jimmy & The Differentials to stay warm while they serenaded the runners and walkers with old-fashion rock ‘n’ roll tunes.
Joseph Rivera, a 28-year-old instructor at Waukena Elementary School near Corcoran, almost ran out of fuel at the end of the 13.1-mile race but managed to win by more than two minutes.
“I got a little tired at the end,” said Rivera, who took a few days away from training going into the race.
Rivera – who has a best half-marathon time of 1:05.48 (San José Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon) – topped a fast field with a time of 1:12:12.07. That was good enough to hold off Eric Loveland (1:14:16.9) and Jesús Campos (1:15:25.78).
I would like to run a marathon within the next year. If I can stay healthy.
Exeter’s Allison Gonzales, now living in Arroyo Grande, won the women’s division in 1:20:27.36, which was good for seventh overall.
The race, which also included a 10-kilometer run, was the second in the Valley Runner of the Year series.
Rivera took command of the race early. By the 4-mile mark, he had opened up a sizeable lead over Campos and Loveland.
“I took it up pretty fast,” said Rivera, a former soccer star who had surgery on both knees a decade ago and then turned into an elite runner while at the College of the Sequoias and Chico State. “But, I started to feel really bad after mile 10.”
Rivera said he felt like “falling over” on the final stretch to the finish.
The 15th annual edition of the race was to Rivera’s liking.
“It’s a really nice course, with a lot of good support,” said Rivera.
His three days of rest heading into the End of the Trail was due to “lingering symptoms” he caught when his fiancée Ana Flores caught the flu.
Rivera has also been busy with life: He recently took his teaching job after working as a substitute teacher for several years.
Plus, he’s preparing for his upcoming wedding.
“Everything is falling into place,” said Rivera, who has limited his running in the area.
“I would like to run a marathon within the next year,” said Rivera, who is thinking of the California International Marathon in Sacramento in December. “If I can stay healthy.”
As he has gotten older, Rivera has learned to be more patient about his training and running.
“I’m listening to my body a lot more know, instead of telling it to shut up,” he said.
If you want to congratulate Rivera, you’ll have to talk to him in person. He does not use social media.
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