The Colorado resident could leave San Antonio this weekend with some extra cash.
If Andy Wacker manages to be the first person to break the tape at this weekend’s Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Half Marathon, he won’t do it with his hands.
Wacker, who lives and trains in Boulder, Colo., has a little streak going. When he won the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon in July, he was so happy that he jumped up and kicked through the finish-line tape like Bruce Lee. He did it again at his victory in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Half Marathon in October.
“It was just this spontaneous thing,” Wacker recalls of the first time he did it. “It was so cool being part of a giant road race where there are 20,000 people running through the streets of Chicago. I was just really amped.”
In San Antonio, the 26-year-old Wacker may have another reason to celebrate: He’s currently in second place in the Half Marathon Grand Prix with 67 points. This unique annual series includes all 30 half marathons hosted by Competitor Group with a $50,000 prize pool for elites such as Wacker, who owns a 63-minute personal best for the 13.1-mile distance.
The Grand Prix series also includes an age-group category. In Wacker’s case, this can mean coming home from San Antonio with $6,000 in his pocket. Wacker runs for the Boulder Running Company and isn’t paid to compete, so this kind of money is what keeps fueling his dreams.
“Winning money like this means a ton,” he says. “There’s really not a lot of support for people like me who don’t have a contract where I get paid to run. I get the jersey and the gear. The rest is up to me.”
Wacker has run six of the Rock ‘n’ Roll races and says he’s a big fan of them.
“They are always fun,” he says. “It’s fun to have music on the course and concerts at the start and finish. There’s always something new and exciting about the Rock ‘n’ Roll atmosphere.”
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In San Antonio, he hopes to capitalize on the success he’s realized since he came off a nine-month injury in March. Wacker attended the University of Colorado in Boulder and trains with the projected winner of the 2014 Half Marathon Grand Prix, Jeffrey Eggleston.
“Training with Jeffrey has been great,” he says. After getting healthy again, Wacker says that Eggleston invited him to workouts. “It’s been challenging transitioning from the track and shorter races to the half marathon and marathon, so having someone like Jeffrey to be my mentor has been really beneficial. He’s been helping me by telling me what kind of workouts I need to run as well as pushing me in training at the highest levels of American distance running.”
Next year, Wacker says he’s setting his sights on wearing the Team USA singlet at the IAAF World Championships for track and field or the Pan Am Games in the marathon, a distance in which he is planning to debut. He also hopes to represent his country in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
“It will be great to run at that level,” he says.
Competitor Group’s Senior Vice President Tracy Sundlun says the Half Marathon Grand Prix series contributes to rounding out the Rock ‘n’ Roll experience.
“We’ve got the age-group Grand Prix and the U.S. Grand Prix,” he points out. “Both are equally important to the Competitor Group and equally important to the sport. Competitor Group is unique in its breath in of involvement and leadership in the half-marathon distance. Our goal is to provide hundreds of thousands of people with great running experiences. We focus a lot of efforts on the participatory elements in our races and so we want to make sure we are rewarding our best competitors as well. This Grand Prix series does just that.”
Joining Wacker this weekend in San Antonio will be more than 24,000 runners who will compete in the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll 10K on Saturday as well as the half and full marathon on Sunday. American distance-running ace Lindsey Scherf is at the top of the women’s 2014 Half Marathon Grand Prix leaderboard and is expected to take home $15,000 after Sunday’s race where Olympian Janet Bawcom and 2013 USA Half Marathon champion Adriana Nelson are both competing.
2014 Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi will run with a 7:30-per-mile pace group at Saturday’s 10K and then serve as grand marshal of Sunday’s marathon, which begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Alamodome.