First-time marathoner wins Harlingen race

HARLINGEN — At around mile 25 of a marathon, a runner can hear the crowds cheering, the music blasting and the announcer welcoming all those crossing the finish line.

And it takes a whopping 26.2-mile run to get that hard-earned finisher’s medal, perhaps a commemorative jacket and forever be known as a marathoner.

For Art Hurtado, 33, the experience of running his first full marathon at the 2nd Annual Harlingen Marathon on Feb. 10 was about conquering that personal goal — to finish.

“I was mostly focused on my running. For me, I was just running my own race. I know I finished first, but in my mind, it was just to do the run and performing how I trained.”

It just happens Art was the very first to cross the finish line, the overall champion that morning, with a time of 3 hours and 56 seconds, making him eligible for the Boston Marathon.

“In the end, it was really just about surviving that first marathon,” he said. “Since I hadn’t done it before, I didn’t know what to expect. Later on in the race and how difficult it became, I was just happy to finish.”

Art’s journey to the finish line had a setback in 2018, when he originally registered and trained for the Harlingen Marathon. A month before the race, he suffered an injury that halted his training and preparations.

“There wasn’t enough time to heal and get back to speed,” he said. “I decided it was more important to take care of my body than to just finish the race. There would be other races to get ready for.”

Art credits local race organizer Javier Vazquez, from 2RunCrew LLC, for originally preparing him for the marathon by creating a training plan.

But Art also comes from a running family. His father, Arturo Hurtado, recently retired after 39 years as a cross country coach and teacher at Brownsville ISD.

“I have been running all my life,” he said. “But I’ve only been racing for about a year and a few months.”

With his goal met, Art has no current plans to prepare for another marathon. He is focusing on trail runs and other races he hasn’t done before.

He will submit an application for the 2020 Boston Marathon, but he isn’t thinking that far ahead.

“Set realistic goals for yourself,” Art said, encouraging new runners. “There are a lot of free local resources and a big supportive community that are more than happy to introduce you to people to take you on runs at different levels and speeds.”

Did you know?

• Art Hurtado is chief of the Cameron County Beach Patrol.

• His first marathon race, 26.2 miles, was at the 2nd Annual Harlingen Marathon on Feb. 10.

• He finished overall grand champion, with a Boston Marathon qualifying time of 3 hours and 56 seconds.

• He comes from a running family.

• He got his training plan from local race organizer Javier Vazquez,