Running with friends

Eddie Duran and Gilbert 'Gilly' Valdez run for opposing teams during the season, but off the trail they're buds

By Matthew Narvaiz
sports@taosnews.com
Posted 11/21/19

Gilbert "Gilly" Valdez and Eddie Duran are runners, first and foremost. Sometimes they're competitors.

But more than that, they're friends.

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Running with friends

Eddie Duran and Gilbert 'Gilly' Valdez run for opposing teams during the season, but off the trail they're buds

Posted

Gilbert "Gilly" Valdez and Eddie Duran are runners, first and foremost. Sometimes they're competitors.

But more than that, they're friends.

The two high school runners have been opponents before. Duran runs for Taos during the high school cross-country season, while Valdez runs for Peñasco.

But now with the season over, the two have teamed up and are running for the New Mexico Sol Running Club, a USA Track & Field member club for young athletes.

Valdez has been running with the club for some time now. For Duran, it's his first year.

The two most recently competed in the Junior Olympics Region 10 Championships at Santa Ana Golf Club, a course on the Santa Ana Pueblo on Saturday (Nov. 16). And they didn't disappoint.

Duran finished in 10th place and Valdez finished in 11th. Duran posted a time of 17:51.01, nearly 10 seconds better than his time at the Class 4A State Championships, while Valdez posted a time of 17:58.63.

Duran, 16, a junior at Taos High School, and Valdez, 15, a sophomore at Peñasco, both qualified for the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross-Country Championships in Madison, Wisconsin, which will take place Dec. 14.

"I was excited because that's the first time I ever ran club cross-country," Duran said. "It was a great experience."

Duran and Valdez have been friends since Duran was a freshman in high school and Valdez was an eighth-grader. The two competed against each other in cross-country and track and field.

Valdez said that the two, from the time they first met each other, were always told that they looked alike due to their curly hair. Then, Duran said, he saw Valdez's name in the Taos News and said: "Oh, I got to beat him."

The two, however, got much closer over the summer when they trained with Scott Valdez, a personal coach who has helped with their growth as runners.

That's when, Valdez said, he thought it'd be a good idea for Duran to join the New Mexico Sol Running Club.

"I thought, man, he'd make a great addition," Valdez said.

But Valdez and Duran weren't always runners. Duran didn't get his start until high school and Valdez started in eighth grade.

However, Valdez has been running club cross-country since his start in the sport, while Duran is running club for the first year.

Valdez said that there is always a rivalry aspect when he runs with Duran, whether they are on the same team or not. But now that the two just so happen to be teammates -- and not just friends -- Valdez said that it changes up the dynamic a bit.

"There's always a rivalry," Valdez said. "But it's also nice having someone to talk to during the race, strategizing together."

Duran said that it's a relief running alongside Valdez since they push each other to get better as teammates. But, when they're opposing runners during the high school season, it's a quest to see who finishes with a faster time.

"It was kind of relieving because I know that we're both fast, we're both very competitive and that either way we're gonna have a good outcome," Duran said of running on the same team as Valdez. But when they're running for different schools, Duran said, "I feel like I have to beat him even more."

For Duran, traveling to Wisconsin is the farthest he's ever gone to participate in a cross-country meet. Valdez has done it before.

Duran is hoping for a faster time since the meet will be at a lower elevation. Valdez is just happy to be running.

More than anything, though, the two make each other better, Duran said.

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