Friday, August 7, 2020

Bash smashes Bryce Half Marathon

Sights set on California International Marathon

by Than Acuff

You’ve seen him the past eight years working as a cashier at City Market but may have not known the entire time Bashash “Bash” Walio is also a burgeoning distance runner and just won the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon, setting a new course record time of 1:03.08 in the process.

Walio moved to Ft. Morgan, Colo. from Ethiopia in 2006, attending high school with more of a focus on basketball than running.

“I basically ran just to stay in shape,” says Walio.

His interest shifted during high school to running and he ended up attending Western Colorado University (WCU) for two reasons, the first being financial and the second being the location.

“It was the cheapest school in Colorado I could find and when I came here to visit I just loved it,” says Walio.

But, WCU has an incredibly successful and competitive running program and Walio did not make the team as a freshman. He remained on task while working full-time and attending classes to make the team and eventually did but admits he never had much success running in college. It wasn’t until he graduated from WCU that his running really took off and he found a way to balance working 50 hours a week at City Market and training without the additional burden of schoolwork on top of it all.

“I have much better balance, getting sleep, planning training and doing the little things better,” says Walio. “I always knew there was a lot more in me I had to prove.”

With time to train, as well as time to recover, Walio’s running career started to take off, with several notable results in the past two years that earned him entry into the 2020 Boston Marathon. Currently, Walio gets support from Nuun, Honey Stinger and the Rabbit Elite running team, but a strong showing in Boston could open even more doors.

“I was really looking forward to the Boston Marathon,” says Walio. “I was feeling really strong, my training was going great and I was staying healthy. Boston would be a good way to get my name out there.”

In the lead-up to the Boston Marathon, slated for April, Walio placed 15th at the Los Angeles Marathon in March and then the world was turned upside-down by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That was my last race before everything went crazy,” says Walio.

Races were cancelled as a result and Walio was left to his own devices to keep his engine churning. With a training regimen clocking 60 to 75 miles per week, he threw in some additional challenges, including running downhill miles to keep his competitive fires burning.

“Honestly it’s been difficult,” admits Walio. “I was just doing some small things to keep myself motivated.”

Then, he got an email from the Bryce Canyon race organizers that the race was on for Saturday, July 11.

“I was so excited because I was feeling really fit,” says Walio.

In addition to a goal of winning the race again, Walio also set a bigger goal of finishing in less than one hour, five minutes.

With a couple of Olympic Trials athletes at the start line, Walio decided to match their pace for the first couple of miles until he decided it was time to make a break.

“A couple of miles in I stopped thinking about them and just trusted my training,” says Walio. “I decided to make a move and see if they stayed with me. I just took off and from then on I just felt really good.”

Walio’s confidence and training paid off, as not only did he win, but he also set a new course record time of 1:03.08.

“It was a really good day,” says Walio.

He’s now back at work and continuing with his training, with his next big goal set for December when he will compete in the California International Marathon. His current personal record time for a marathon is 2:23 but he’s looking to break that at the California event, setting a goal to run it in 2:19 or less. Furthermore, with a huge international field set to toe the line, Walio expects a top result there could help propel his career even further.

“That will be a really big deal,” says Walio. “There will be some Kenyans and Ethiopians running in it and I’m looking forward to racing against them.”

Until then, he will keep his eyes peeled for any races that may come up in the meantime.

“If something else pops up from a 5K to a marathon, I’m ready,” says Walio. “If I stay consistent and healthy, I know I can put in the work.”

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