//Heard Around the Lake: News, Notes & Idle Gossip (Oct. 3, 2013)

Heard Around the Lake: News, Notes & Idle Gossip (Oct. 3, 2013)

CADENZAYesterday’s announcement that the Austin Marathon (and half) is reinstating prize and appearance money is welcome news and will go a long way to raising the profile of our hometown marathon. Austin’s also bucking a national trend toward awarding less prize money in major races or elimination of it entirely. Good for John Conley and the Austin Marathon.

Nobody’s going to get rich winning Austin, but the $40,000 that will be up for grabs, will attract a better, deeper field than the race has seen since the race abandoned its extremely fast point-to-point course and prize and appearance money several years ago. The $40,000 is still peanuts when compared to Boston, New York, Houston or Chicago marathons but it’s a start.

What does this all mean for me and you? Not much. Maybe a few more star runners at the race expo and around town the week before the race drumming up interest, but that’s about it. Occasionally, race director John Conley drops hints that the course might change, but until that happens it’s still an extremely hilly and difficult marathon and half marathon that isn’t likely to draw many familiar names.

Even so, the prize money will grab the attention of some sub-2:20/2:40 runners willing to forgo a fast time for a quick payday. Just don’t expect Ryan Hall or Wilson Kipsang, the new world record holder, to come barreling down Congress toward the finish in a sub-2:10. That isn’t going to happen and nobody is expecting it to.

Still, there should be greater attention paid to Austin from faster runners that should result in more competitive winning times. But, I think one of the less obvious positives is the prize money will be attractive enough for some top Texans, including a handful of locals, to run. As soon as the announcement was made yesterday, I heard from Rory Tunningley, a recent graduate from the UT distance corps, who is making the conversion to the roads. Tunningley, who hadn’t planned on running the Austin Half, immediately included in it in his plans because of the prize money.

Hopefully, the addition of meaningful prize money means some of Austin’s top runners – folks like Rio Reina, David Fuentes, Erik Stanley, Allison Macsas and recent moms Chris Kimbrough and Des Ficker (if they come back to competitive running) will run their hometown race. In addition to Tunningley, Rogue Rescue winner Alex Moore (who ran at A&M) said he’ll run his first half marathon in Austin.

The breakdown of the $40,000 purse looks like this: The men’s and women’s winner of the marathon will each receive $3000. The half-marathon winners get $1000 and in each race, the prize money goes three deep. In the marathon, second place is worth $2000 and third gets $1000. In the half, second place receives $750 and third means $500.

Time incentive money in the marathon for a sub-2:20/2:45 is $1000 to the winner, $500 to second and $250 for third. In the half, the time incentive is for a sub-1:05/1:16 and would mean an additional $500 for first, $250 for second and $100 for third.

The big incentive money comes in the marathon where there will be a $5000 marathon course record bonus (2:14:02/2:36:26) and if the record isn’t broken, the bonus money will roll over to 2015, making the course records worth $10,000. Someone will give it a shot, but to break those course records on the current course will be very tough from the type of runner likely to run here.

Nevertheless, the prize purse clearly means that the Austin Marathon will have a more competitive, respected elite field. That’s good news for all Austin runners as this will make our hometown marathon a better, more prominent race regionally, and maybe in a couple of years, of national importance again.

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O Scott MacPherson, the top dog in Austin racing for the past three years who moved to Columbia, Missouri to be with his fiance, still represents Rogue and is coached by Steve Sisson. ScottyMac, who has a marathon best of 2:18:30 which he recorded last fall in Philadelphia, will hope to lower that PR in the USA Marathon Champs this weekend at the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis. The US Champs are worth $145,000 total in prize money with $25,000 going to the winner and an additional $25,000 for a course record.

O Marathon season gets going this weekend. In addition to Twin Cities, other major marathons this weekend are in Portland, Milwaukee and St. George, Utah where plenty of Austinites are running. Next weekend is Chicago, Baltimore, Scranton and Hartford. And the Tyler Rose Marathon in Tyler, Texas.

O Many of Austin’s top road racers are off this weekend to the Chili Pepper Cross Country Festival in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The UT teams aren’t running, but several Rogue runners, including Tia Kool, are competing. Also, David Fuentes, who hasn’t run cross-country since his days at St. Ed’s, is running Chili Pepper. Unfortunately, Rio Reina, who ran at Arkansas (as did his uncle and father), isn’t able to go to Fayetteville this weekend.

O Houston, which did such an impressive job hosting the men’s and women’s Olympic Marathon Trials in 2012, is in the running to host the Marathon Trials in 2016. Houston is bidding for the Trials against LA and Cincinnati. Neither Cincinnati or LA has ever hosted a Marathon Trials although LA hosted the ’84 Olympic Track Trials. Remarkably, in the Olympic year of 1984 the Marathon Trials were awarded to Buffalo (men) and Olympia, Washington (women), rather than run either Trials race on the Olympic course.

O Rory Tunningley, the former UT 10,000-meter man from Lockhart, hasn’t raced since graduating in May, but is getting ready for his first low-key road race. “I need a rust-buster,” said Tunningley who now runs for Team Mizuno. “After that, I’m planning to run the Run for the Water 10-Miler to really get a good gauge on my fitness. Then, I hope to run the US Half Marathon Champs {in Houston on January 19th} and break 1:05 to get an Olympic Trials qualifier.” Tunningley will also run the Austin Half Marathon in February.

O The Bev Kearney predicament is starting to heat up again. The former UT women’s head track coach, who won six national championships, resigned last January after claiming that she was told by school officials that they were prepared to fire her. Kearney has yet to file a lawsuit against the University of Texas. But that may soon change. Kearney, who alleged discrimination based on gender, race and retaliation in a complaint filed several months ago with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Texas Workforce Commission. In it, Kearney says she was “subjected to a severely hostile work environment” and was forced to resign due to an “unwritten policy” routinely violated by other university personnel. According to the EEOC, the agency is required by law to give individuals the right to sue if more than 180 days have passed since a charge of discrimination is filed. That time has passed and Kearney’s attorney – Derek Howard – told the San Antonio Express-News that he intends to sue UT this week. Stay tuned.

O The Cedar Park HS cross-country team that traveled to Minnesota last week for the Roy Griak Invitational finished 34 th. Tyler Grendel was the first CP runner in 86th place with a time of 18:07. Agusto Frankenberg was 154 th in 18:40 and Gerritt Stapleton was 170th in 18:55.

O Cedar Park’s Parker Stinson got his senior year of cross-country underway at the University of Oregon last week at the Boston College Invitational. Although the Ducks won the prestigious meet and placed six runners in the top nine, Stinson – a three-time All American – was Oregon’s seventh man and way back in 18th place.

O In Charlotte, North Carolina, Jenny Fritz, a freshman at Davidson College from Dripping Springs, finished 17th in the Charlotte Invitational last weekend and was the second Davidson runner. Fritz ran 21:59 in the 6-K race.

O One of the coolest events in Austin is Saturday morning. Its the annual start of the Marathon Kids program and it will be held at Mike Myers Stadium on the UT campus at 9 a.m. Thousands of Austin-area kids will run a ceremonial lap or two with their families, friends and teachers to start off the Marathon Kids 26.2 Mile Challenge. For more info, go to www.marathonkids.org.

O Our man in San Antonio – Paul Baltutis – reports that the San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon on November 17th is offering a $25 discount for Bexar County residents who register before Friday night at midnight. Simply use the coupon code LOCAL on Rock ‘n’ Roll’s registration page. BTW: Rock ‘n’ Roll announced that Joe Nichols will be the postrace concert headliner.

O Paul also writes that a great tune-up race for Rock ‘n’ Roll is Soler’s Sports Helotes Half Marathon on Sunday (October 5). There are actually three races – the half, 10-K and 5-K – and great food and live music afterward. For info, go to www.solersports.com.

O In case you were wondering, the Speedgolf World Championships is October 26-27 at Bandon Dunes in Oregon. The defending champion is Chris Walker who is from The Woodlands. Last year, Walker shot 76 and 77 in a total time of 1:50:28. Walker, who plays professionally on various mini-tours, said: “What Speedgolf requires from me what a normal round of golf doesn’t is a tremendous combination of feel and creativity. For me, when I play, it’s where I come alive and really have a blast.” The world record for speedgolf on a regulation course is held by Christopher Smith who shot a six-under 66 in 44:06 in 2005.

O What I’m listening to this morning: “The Ultimate Jesse Cook“. Cook is an awesome flamenco guitarist who is – believe it or not – Canadian. Love his stuff and he’s not playing ACL.

Have any news for me? If you have something, send it to wish@texasrunningpost.com.

Wish

About Wish

Bob “Wish” Wischnia has more than 30 years of running industry experience across publishing, retail, web, and race organization. An Arizona State University alum, Wischnia has been a runner virtually his entire life, still competing in track and road race competitions. And in the free time he’s not pounding the pavement? He’s swimming, cycling, and catching days on the green.

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