JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
GRANITE SHOALS — A wet and soggy day didn’t keep participants from being the first to try out the new Manzano’s Hike, Bike & Run Trail on May 9. After all, it’s not every day people get the chance to run with an Olympic Silver medalist.
Olympian Leonel Manzano, who is from Granite Shoals, helped design the new trail and officially opened it by leading the first run on it.
“This is a beautiful community, a very supportive community,” Manzano told the gathered crowd during a ceremony near city hall, 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road, where the trail starts. “I would not have found my passion and surpassed my goals without your support. … Thank you to the community and the city of Granite Shoals for taking the Leonel Manzano Hike, Bike & Run Trail and making it a reality. This will enable us to enjoy the outdoors and enhance the quality of life in Granite Shoals.”
Manzano, a 2004 graduate of Marble Falls High School, won the silver medal in the 1,500 meters at the London 2012 Summer Olympics. He has competed in and won other national and international events as well. He also ran track at the University of Texas at Austin.
“This trail is absolutely appropriately named for him in recognition of all he’s accomplished,” Mayor Dennis Maier said. “He’s just a wonderful man.”
The 2.2-mile course includes an inner half-mile loop called Leo’s Loop that goes around a large quarry pond and several connecting trails.
“I thought both trails are absolutely wonderful,” Maier said. “We’ll enjoy running and hiking. This trail provides recreation and enjoyment for all the city of Granite Shoals for the young, old and people like me.”
The trail was the result of a grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It took five years to complete “and a lot of people’s efforts,” Maier said.
One of those people was Marley Porter of Living Architecture and Construction Management. A recognized green architect, Porter designed the course to combine the natural beauty and scenery of the city without disturbing much of the natural habitat for the wildlife.
“Everything starts with a dream and a thought,” Porter said. “This started five years ago when (grant writer) Charles Watkins said, ‘Let’s write a grant for Granite Shoals.’”
The trail began to become a reality thanks to William David Reynolds, a young contractor “who built 2.2 miles of track … day in and day out in the rain by himself.”
Reynolds donated much of his time to the project, organizers said.
Also in attendance were University of Texas distance coach Brad Herbster and Marble Falls Independent School District coaches Kyle Futrell and Karen Naumann.
Futrell and Naumann traveled with Manzano to various meets around the country when he was a student in the Marble Falls school system.
“Many of you raised funds so I could attend national events during middle school and high school,” Manzano said. “You were also in the stands cheering me at the University of Texas and at the Olympics. You continue to motivate me to go above and beyond. I will continue to be grateful.”
Manzano assured attendees they can find him taking full advantage of the trail for years to come.
“I remember as a young kid running through the streets of Granite Shoals,” he said. “Now, I have a real place to come out and train. I’ll make sure I make use of this trail when I’m here.”