This is a huge week for The Trail Foundation. Tonight is its principle fund raiser—the Moonlight Margarita Run 5-K—but its big week got underway on Saturday morning with the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Boardwalk which officially opened the 1.2-mile segment. A crowd of about 500, anxious to try out the new segment of the Butler Trail for themselves, was on hand as well as a band, plenty of entertainment and free popsicles that were quickly gobbled up on the steamy morning.
Most of the runners in attendance had already done their runs for the day so the first users of the trail on Saturday were mainly walkers (including several in wheelchairs who wanted to check out the Boardwalk’s accessibility), mountain bikers and city dignitaries as well as several announced candidates for mayor and city council.
The next morning hundreds of Austin runners gathered at various spots along the Butler/Lady Bird Lake Trail for their maiden voyage on the Boardwalk. Personal disclosure: I was not a vocal supporter of the bond issues necessary for funding the Boardwalk. Eventually, I voted for it but it seemed like a lot of money that would be beneficial for only a small segment of Austinites.
Even though I was one of those who it would clearly benefit, I didn’t quite see the dire need. After hundreds of runs along the lousy, cracked Riverside sidewalk and the always dicey crossing of I-35, it just didn’t bother me all that much. The only time it did were the instances when the sidewalk was so crowded with long-run groups that converged, but even those were rare.
My friend Susan Rankin is the director of The Trail Foundation and she reasoned with me that once the Boardwalk was completed and eliminated Riverside and I-35 from the trail, I could experience what a difference it would make.
Susan’s a true visionary (I’m not), but I had to see for myself. Needless to say, she was absolutely right.
Running just a few feet above Lady Bird Lake in the early-morning Sunday light made for such a unique run that the Boardwalk segment was over before I knew it. Rather than keep going toward Pleasant Valley to make a complete loop around the lake, we decided to double back on the Boardwalk just to drink it in again from a different angle. No more Riverside, dog park traffic, Joe’s Crab Shack, homeless guys or waiting for the light at I-35.
But, the Boardwalk does a lot more than just delete the worst part of the trail. It opens up new vistas of the skyline, widens the trail significantly (no more crowding) and enhances the trail experience so profoundly that I forgot where I was and got lost in the moment.
It is that beautiful.
O Last night was the opener of the NCAA Championships in Eugene and our own Parker Stinson from Cedar Park ran the second-to-last race of his Oregon career in front of the Hayward Field loyalists. Stinson was among the leaders through 5000 meters (reached in 14:07), but faded after that to finish eighth in 29:01.39, well behind his freshman teammate Edward Cheserek who won in 28:30. But Stinson was not displeased. He said, “I wanted to go with the surges, but I wasn’t good enough to go with them. After I got dropped, I just didn’t want to do anything stupid and wanted to get back into competing. My legs felt like crap, but I’m proud of my race.” Stinson, who will also run the 5000 meters, was so wiped out from his effort that he lay on the track for several moments after finishing.
O Texas had an up-and-down first night. UT’s Ryan Crouser won his second straight NCAA outdoor title in the shot put with a winning throw of 67-2 ¼. He was slightly injured, but will still probably throw the discus which opens on Friday. Defending NCAA decathlon champ Johannes Hock has a 20-point lead going into the second day of the decathlon. UT had three runners finish in the top four of the women’s 400-meter semis, but two-time defending champ Ashley Spencer was injured and didn’t qualify for the semis. Morolake Akinosun was second in her 100-meter semi. Also, the Longhorn women’s 400-meter relay team qualified for the final. (The NCAAs are televised nightly on ESPN3. See schedule from yesterday’s TRP.)
O Former NCAA champ Leonel Manzano ran a low-key mile last week in Concord, Massachusetts and even though Leo The Lion ran 3:59.31, he was fourth in the race. Eric Final won that in 3:58.73 which was his first sub-4 minute mile ever and a six-second PR.
O A contingent of Austin’s best track runners journeyed to Murfreesboro, Tennessee last weekend for the Music City Distance Carnival. Chris Gowell of Rogue won the 800 meters in 1:48.55 with Lucas Manning of the Austin TC sixth in 1:49.63. In the mile, Nate Brannen of Canada ran a meet record 3:55.65 with Dave Edwards of Rogue sixth in 4:04.8. The 5000 was won by Jeff See in 13:48, but Devin Monson (Rogue) was fifth in 14:17. Team Mizuno’s David Fuentes was eighth in 14:34 and Rio Reina was 10th in 14:45. Both Reina and Fuentes were using the 5000 as a tune up for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon (i.e., Grandma’s) in Duluth in two weeks.
O The Rogue women also had a big meet in Tennessee. In the mile, Rogue’s Kristen Findlay was second in 4:37 with teammates Becca Friday in fourth in 4:49 and Anne Jones eighth in 5:02. Austin TC’s Natalie Pichetti was seventh in 4:54. The 5000 was won by Mia Behm of Rogue in 16:11, followed by teammates Allie Mendez in fourth in 16:21, Sarah Pease fifth in 16:27 and Tia Martinez on the comeback trail in sixth in 16:41. Mary Goldkamp of Rogue was third in the 3000 steeple in 9:56, followed by her teammate Michelle Finn in fifth in 10:04.
O Jack & Adam’s new location on South Lamar is up and running. The old store on Barton Springs has moved to a sweet spot (300 S. Lamar), just south of Schlotzsky’s and, a couple of hundred meters from Lady Bird Lake. Already one of the best bike shops in Texas, owner Jack Murray has expanded his business into a triathlon shop, while still retaining a wide selection of high-end bikes and expert repair and maintenance. Jack is now even carrying several running shoe brands with a good selection of training and racing models. Definitely worth checking out the new space with much more room for meetings, stretching and packet pickup.
O There’s a new Tuesday evening race series going on down in Seguin. Each Tuesday night there will be a mile race at 7, followed by a three-mile at 7:30 on a one-mile oval in Starcke Park. Both races will be chip timed and the overall winners of the series get a free pair of shoes. After the three-miler, there’s ice-cold beer from BS Brewing. For more info and directions, go to http://www.athleteguild.com/event-series/starcke-park-summer-sizzler-race-series. Or call Buddy Abro @ 860/660-1551.
O Down in San Antonio, the running Galvans are keeping the momentum going while mom (Liza) is away marathoning in New Zealand. Ariel Galvan was the masters winner of the District 6 5-K in 17:32, while daughter Haleigh was top woman…er, girl…in 19:45.
O Our buddy Gary Brimmer has kicked off his fourth annual cross-country summer camp in San Antonio. It runs through August 15th and it’s designed for middle school kids through college (adults are also welcome). Gary’s one of the most knowledgeable coaches around and his camps have produced state champs and regional and district qualifiers in cross-country. For more info, go to www.garybrimmer.com/Summer_XC_Camp.html.
O What I’m listening to this morning: “Holland,” by the Beach Boys. One of the most obscure of their albums, this great early ’70s release was primarily a Carl Wilson production with only two songs written by older brother Brian, including “Sail On, Sailor.”
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