Alumni Spotlight: Lazaro Alvarez, Irving Marathon Race Director
The Irving Schools Foundation is excited to announce their partnership with the Irving Marathon Running Series. Keep reading to learn more about the Irving Marathon’s Co-Founder & Race Director, and Irving ISD Alum, Lazaro Alvarez.
When you use the code “FOOD4KIDS” you’ll get 15% off your registration and the Irving Marathon will donate $5 to ISF.
After arriving in the US from El Salvador at thirteen years old, Alvarez enrolled at Austin Middle School and began his track and field career right away. Without speaking English, he quickly became involved with athletics on campus. Alvarez hoped to play soccer, just as he had in El Salvador, but soon realized that his vision was having issues. He says, “At the time, I actually did not know that running was a sport. My eyes were bad, so I started getting worse at soccer… but I was good at running. Running just became what I did.”
Moving forward, Alvarez joined the track team at Irving High School after wrapping up middle school. Along with ROTC, he learned the importance of community service and his role in giving back with numerous organizations. He says that every single teacher he had at Irving High had an impact on his life. But along the way, Alvarez recognizes the challenges he had to encounter to achieve his goals. He is a strong believer of turning what you have into something that can help you. “Locate your resources. Construct your dream.”
He still remembers writing his scholarship application essays to the Irving-Las Colinas Rotary Club in 2004. Upon graduation, his award helped him attend Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas. But unfortunately, the university did not have a cross-country team. Still without glasses, Alvarez was friends with the campus soccer team members but felt that he did not meet the needed abilities to join them.
The following year, Alvarez teamed up with the university’s administration to begin a cross-country team. He says, “That’s where I got the drive to realize that just because something doesn’t exist, it doesn’t mean it can’t be built.” Through the rest of his college years and beyond, Alvarez kept running. Once returning to Irving, the Campion Trail had just been built. He describes the days when he’d run for 2-3 hours in a day with no company on the trail. In thought of creating a sense of community in the trail and a passion for running just like his, Alvarez began the Irving Running Club in 2012.
With fresh minds out of college and new ideas, Alvarez and around 20 of his colleagues wanted to increase their impact on the community. In thought of creating something never seen before in the City of Irving, Alvarez became the co-founder of the Irving Marathon along with Ronnie Chesko. For the first event, around 1,900 people signed up. Soon after, Alvarez left his colleagues and the business.
From 2013 to 2019, the Irving Marathon only hosted one event per year.
In 2018, Alvarez was asked to return to the Irving Marathon Team when a higher need was found. As more people moved to the city and the running community grew, Alvarez and his team began seeing 30+ running events in the North Texas area in a single weekend. “Running is a way of helping your body stay healthy and your mind stay sane,” he says. But yet, Alvarez describes that some people still couldn’t find the fun in running. He and his team wanted to change that.
The Irving Marathon decided to change the running experience by hosting numerous events per year. Today, there are seven: Irving Oktoberfest 5-Mile/5k, Irving Turkey Trot, Irving Frost Half Marathon (during December holidays), Love on the Run for Valentine’s Day, Irving St. Patrick’s 5k, Fiesta de Mayo Half Marathon, and the Spring Irving Marathon (A Boston Marathon Qualifier Race). They all unite different ethnicities and demographics in the community.
“It allows participants to stay motivated year round and have an excuse to wake up in the morning and go train for their next event. For example, our Fiesta de Mayo had 1,500 participants. That’s 1,500 people that throughout the week decided to wake up early in the morning and run to stay healthy.” That is the strong sense of community-driven by a common goal that Alvarez’ team seeked to find.
Today, Alvarez still looks back at all the opportunities that helped him achieve where he is today. In 2004, he was awarded the Irving Schools Foundation Scholarship from the Irving-Las Colinas Rotary Club. As the tables have turned, this year (2021), Alvarez, who is now involved in Rotary himself, served as a scholarship reviewer for applicants of the same award he received 17 years ago. In 2024, he is enlisted to become the Rotary’s President. Additionally, following every Irving Marathon event, he presents a check to the Irving Schools Foundation in support of the new Irving Marathon Running Series Scholarships!
Looking back at his high school self, some advice he has to share with current Irving ISD students is to recognize the importance of reading. Alvarez says, “Sometimes, we don’t know what we don’t know, and if we don’t have the resources around us like certain people to ask [for answers], then we can read.” Another piece of advice he has is to remain connected with your friends. Without his relationships in high school and the alumni network of his college campus, the Irving Marathon would perhaps not be here today. People can give you hope.
Taking a look at his present-day goals, Alvarez still hopes to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming the President of El Salvador. “With the marathon, I am learning how to bring people together, have people follow a vision and an idea, and organize people to come together and become inspired.”
As Alvarez begins working with the Irving Schools Foundation, he aspires to find ways to continue engaging the Irving community to give back and to be a part of what he’s built with his team. Alvarez hopes to deliver a special message to the community to be a part of something new.
After all, Alvarez hopes more people will be able to experience the feeling one gets after the run is over. All of the hard work pays off.