As we approach the final weeks of ownership of the Austin Marathon (February 14) by Conley Sports, the future of the race is still very much undecided. The number one question that so many Austin marathoners have (judging by the number of times I was asked last Sunday at the 3M Half) is whether or not the new owners of the race—High Five Events—will make substantive changes to the course in time for the 2017 race.
My stock answer has been, “Of course, they will change it.” Although High Five has never come right out and said it, my feeling has been that the High Five group is way too smart and race savvy and has invested too much, not to make meaningful changes for ’17.
Not so fast. Change is certainly in the air for the 2017 race, but how much and what changes will be instituted are not clear. At least not yet.
The High Five partners—Dan Carroll, Stacy Keese and her husband Jack Murray—have been justifiably circumspect in making any plans public about the 2017 marathon as they don’t want to do or say anything that would detract from this year’s race. That’s understandable. The High Five group was at the 3M finish on Sunday, taking notes and observing as quietly as possible and probably didn’t welcome any prying from me. (Although 3M isn’t part of High Five’s purchase from Conley Sports, High Five will manage 3M next year.)
But, Jack Murray said in earlier interview with me in October—right after High Five bought the race—that, “If the running community wants a new point-to-point course, we’ll do it. I will say that I personally feel the course needs to be achievable.”
Since Murray, Keese and Carroll were right there at the 3M finish, it seemed prudent on my part to ask whether or not the course will—in fact—change and be more “achievable.”
Nothing doing. The High Five group weren’t biting at all. Dan Carroll initially said to my questions, “It takes 12 months to design a new course and so much of it is not under our control.”
You can read anything into that you want, but when I pressed Carroll further he admitted that, “There will be some tweaks to it. The course will be the best course we can do.”
Clearly, Carroll wasn’t real happy with my questions (which are the same questions on every Austin marathoners’ mind) and when, a few minutes later, I went back to him to ask for clarification on a few of his answers, his only reply to me was, “No comment.”
We weren’t talking nuclear disarmament treaties here and High Five isn’t under any obligation to talk, but High Five’s response didn’t exactly convince me they would have a new course in place for 2017. I get that High Five doesn’t want to rain on John Conley’s final parade as marathon director, but Carroll seemed to be indicating that dealing with the city and getting approval on a course has been more difficult than they anticipated.
So, based on High Five comments, having a new marathon and half marathon course in place for the ’17 Austin Marathon is by no means a fait accompli—at least not at this point.
Still, the High Five folks are way too smart not to get this right. But, stay tuned.
O Yes, Jared Carson who won the 3M Half on Sunday works for Asics, not Skechers. The confusion is understandable as several TRP readers who ran Houston two weeks ago and emailed in and thought they spotted Jared working in the Skechers booth at the pre and post-race expo with John Schrup. But that was Josh Carson—Jared’s identical twin brother—who works for Skechers and lives in Boulder. They ran together in high school and college in Georgia and now work for rival shoe companies.
O Occasional Austinite Scott MacPherson (who lives in Missouri) has been in town training for the Olympic Marathon Trials with some of his Rogue teammates. ScottyMac reports he’s healthy and ready to roll in LA in a couple of weeks. He’ll spend the final 10 days before the Trials at his parents’ place in Oceanside, California to ensure he has good weather for his final prep.
O Aaron Braun, who won the San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Half last month in 1:04:11, may now regret running that race as a tune-up for the Olympic Trials. The 2:12 marathoner from Colorado, who would have been a shot of making the Olympic team, has announced he’s withdrawing due to lingering hip and groin injuries. Silver lining: He and his wife are expecting the birth of a daughter the day before the Trials.
O David Grice, the owner of Raceworks and a key man behind the scene of most of Austin’s major races, left for Los Angeles this week where he’ll manage the start and finish for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials on February 13th . The next day, Grice will do the same for the LA Marathon.
O Leo (The Lion) Manzano has pulled out of this weekend’s Camel City mile in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Manzano had been expected to make his indoor season debut in North Carolina, but his uncle—Jose Luiz Mendiola—was murdered in an attempted robbery last Sunday.
O If you’re up in Dallas and drop in a certain Jimmy John’s for a sandwich, you might run into Jeremy Wariner behind the counter. The ’04 Olympic gold medalist in the 400 meters from Arlington hasn’t retired from running quite yet, but he’s the general manager and franchise owner of a Jimmy John’s and works at his store every day. Even though the former Baylor star no longer has a shoe contract, he is still training and gearing up for the ’16 season.
O The Army Marathon up in Killeen has been postponed for a year to “restructure” the event. According to race director Ed Bandas, “Going forward, we envision both virtual and ‘live’ races, retaining the traditional race while adding the new digital form.” I’m not sure what that means, but Bandas said Army IV will return next year, possibly with a revised route. The marathon, which went from Killeen to Temple, has been plagued by bitterly cold, wet weather the past two years.
O Going to the Boston Marathon this year? Whether you run the marathon or are going as a cheerleader, be advised that one of the best 5-Ks in the country—the B.A.A. 5-K—is held on Saturday (April 16th), two days before the marathon. It’s a bucket list race, chock full of past Boston champions, and with all the pomp and circumstance of a world-class event. The race goes right down famed Boylston Street (past the marathon finish) to the finish at the Boston Common. Registration has opened for it. The field is capped at 10,000 and always sells out. Go to b.a.a.org for info and/or to register for it.
O There have been a few Presidents who ran (Bush, Carter, Clinton) and quite a few candidates too, but I doubt any have been faster than Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders once was. Sanders, who is originally from New York, said at a Iowa town hall that in high school he was a runner “who won several races.” Evidently, Sanders was a pretty fair runner who ran a 4:37 mile while at James Madison High School in Brooklyn.
O Michelle and Jim Ryan have been on a little holiday in Asia. While there, Michelle found time to run the Hong Kong 100 last weekend on a brutal course, held in the coldest temps Hong Kong has had in 60 years. Despite the snow and sleet, Michelle finished this monster in 18:54.
O What I’m listening to this morning: “Old New Ballad Blues,” by Gary Moore.
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