• Richard Garza (left) and Nichole Brauchle were the top finishers Saturday.

Garza, Brauchle top finishers at Gallop 5K

PLEASANTON—The 38th annual Wild Bill Cowboy Gallop 5K took place Saturday in chilly and wet conditions at the Atascosa River Park as part of Cowboy Homecoming and Turn N Burn. Richard Garza finished first overall with a time of 17:23. Nichole Brauchle was the best female finisher, completing the run in 21:21. She was seventh overall.

“I like the conditions. I like it when it’s rainy and muddy,” said Brauchle, a first-time Gallop participant. “It makes it more fun.”

“It was kind of rough, especially the beginning and end because it was muddy, but we just ran hardcore,” Garza said. “It was still a good run.”

Runners ranged in age from 11 to 85. Jayden Palacios, 11, and Jerome Haner, 85, each placed first in their respective divisions.

The Pleasanton Express would like to thank this year’s sponsors: South Texas Regional Medical Center, Healthy Woman, Bestees, Ramos Tire & Auto, H&R Block, and The Gym


Running buddies

Richard Garza and Luis Flores finished in first and second place, respectively. The two began training together for the race in February after each ran against each other in cross country during their high school days.

“It was just cool meeting up with each other again,” said Garza, a 2013 Pleasanton graduate. “We ran cross country in high school, and now we’re training together. Before we were rivals, and now we’re teammates.”

“Five years after my graduation, we finally met up instead of being by ourselves working out,” said Flores, who went to Poteet High School.

The two were each aiming for a sub-17 minute race, but the conditions made things difficult.

“After training together we’ve accelerated so much compared to high school,” Garza said.

The pair shared a beer together after the race and announced their “retirement” from long-distance running. Garza said the two will now start focusing on weight training.

“We’re going to switch to powerlifting, focus on building mass and sprints,” Garza said.


Gallop veterans

It certainly wasn’t the first rodeo for a group of friends from the PHS Class of 1975 at Saturday’s race. Judge Joe Wayne Vickers, Gabby Gonzalez, Woody Wilson and Tomas Villalobos Jr. ran the 5K together, a tradition the four have created over the years.

Vickers, who ran in the inaugural Cowboy Gallop, said he has missed only a handful of the Pleasanton Express’ 5Ks since the ’70s. He estimates the four have run the Gallop about 25 times together.

The group of runners also travels for races around the state. They said they have participated in many races together over the years and will continue to do so. Vickers and Wilson are running a half-marathon in San Antonio at the beginning of April.

“We go out of town and run,” Gonzalez said. “We may not win every time, but we enjoy it.”