Sunday, December 11th @ 8 AM


Race Details:

Travis County Expo Center 7311 Decker Ln Austin, TX 78724

Packet Pick-up: Fri 1-5 PM & Sat 10 AM – 4 PM @ Rogue Running – 410 Pressler St.

Clothing Drop off @ Mile 2

Weather Forecast: Lows in the 50s w/morning clouds


Course Details:

“The Decker Challenge course covers 13.1 miles of rural roadway on and surrounding the Travis County Expo Center grounds. The course is USATF-certified. Be prepared for rolling hills for the first half of the race, followed by several steady downhill miles at miles 7 and 8. Large hills at the end of Mile 8 and Mile 10 are the highlights (or lowlights, depending on your perspective) of the tough final 5 miles.” – ARC website. There is 900+ feet of elevation climbing and descending so be prepared for an up and down course…with little flat sections.


Determining Half Marathon Goal Pace for Decker:

Decker is typically 2% slower than your hMGP on a fair course, while 3M is 3% faster. Use a collection of at least 12-15 workouts & long runs to determine your hMGP. There are usually some outliers – workouts that you run much faster or slower than your average workout. So…if your hMGP is 8 min pace normally, then it would be 8:09-8:10 min pace for Decker.


Race Plan:

Mile 1: The first mile is mostly downhill as you exit the Expo center. It’s an easy mile to go WAY too fast on due to the adrenaline and the downhill. Reign in it and watch your speed here. Keep the effort closer to a 6 or7 out of 10. This is not the mile to let your ego dictate your pace. Save that for later.


Miles 2-4: This part of the course takes you along Decker Ln. It’s a long stretch and usually has a headwind. There are rolling hills but nothing major. It’s best to stick with a pack here or another runner. Tuck in and let them lead and do the work for you. It’s the longest stretch on the course and though it’s early it can seem forever.


Miles 5-6: These miles seem to click by faster as you have a few turns. There are 2 short/steep hills in the middle of 5 and into the 10K. You are climbing a good bit during these two miles but after the 10K mark you’ll have some much needed downhill. Keep your effort steady – 7/10


Miles 7-10: You get to breathe some at the beginning of mile 7 as you have a major downhill. From 6.2 miles to 7.75 you drop ~ 165 feet. Take advantage of this but don’t go crazy as you want to head into miles 9 & 10 feeling good and not depleted. For the next .3 miles (7.75-8.1) you’ll have a long climb of about 90 feet by the toll road. You’ll drop about 90 feet to mile 9. Stay focused on mile 9 and keep your rhythm through 2 climbs. The first isn’t so bad but the 2nd is the big climb UP to mile 10. Don’t try and attack this hill. Instead just keep the breathing under control and steadily climb.


Miles 11-13: This where the race begins! You’ve got several rollers and mile 13 is a long uphill to the finish. Your effort should increase from 8 out of 10 to your final mile to a 10 or maximum effort. Push through the rolling hills and focus on your form. Arms, arms, arms up the hill and open your stride on the downhills. As you enter the Expo center you can hear the finish but the long climb up seems daunting. This is where you remember your mantra. You need to stay focused here and dig down deep to finish strong. Don’t forget to smile for the camera and finish shoot! Good luck! J


This is my favorite half marathon, though it’s not my PR. I have raced Decker 3 times (’08, ’09, and ’13) which is not as many as some but more than most. Below are the 5 reasons why this is my favorite half marathon race.


  1. Course:I enjoy running the long hills because they break up the race and keep things interesting. There is nothing boring about this course. I also believe the long climbs and declines are easier to maintain your rhythm. They don’t break your stride, or tax you as much as the short, but steep hills in Run for the Water. Yes, the climbs are mentally tough because they seem so long but if you stay positive and focused, you can get through them without killing yourself.


  1. Quiet: I appreciate the quiet rural streets we run during Decker. It’s tough for spectators to find a spot to cheer which makes this race the quietest of all the races in the Distance Challenge. I believe that without the distractions it’s easier to stay focused. Sometimes seeing/hearing the cheers from spectators can increase your pace from the excitement and enthusiasm. That causes us to waste energy and get distracted. Have you ever noticed that happening to you? You see someone you know cheering and you get all excited and hyped up. You pick up the pace without realizing it. But when the crowd passes and the cheering ends, the pace slows and all the sudden you feel more fatigue than you did before. Maybe that’s just me but nevertheless I like having less distractions.


  1. Rural Running:This race is in Austin but feels like you are in the country. We run on old country roads with little traffic. I would never get to run these roads normally which is why I think I like it so much. It’s peaceful.


  1. Weather: This race has historically been cold, rainy, windy…but not hot! Everyone can complain about cold, rain, and wind but I will take that over hot and humid every day of the week – for racing. Cold rain requires thought when deciding what to wear but once the gun goes off you warm up. If it’s windy you can find someone to tuck in behind or a group to work with. Because there are turns you won’t have the wind in your face the entire race. Remember, everyone must deal with the same conditions. If you tell yourself that you are the best wind runner, then you will be! You know everyone else hates it and that affects their attitude going into the race. So, you must love it. Make the weather an advantage for you!


  1. Time & Goals:It’s tough to determine what your goal time should be due to the challenging nature of the course. I have historically NOT worn a watch for this race so I never know how fast or how slow I am running. I think that’s a blessing in disguise. We get so caught up on our time goals that we lose sight of other goals. This race forces us to focus on other goals. My 4 goals for this race are:
  • Race by feel and monitor my effort through the ups and downs of this course.
  • Maintain positive thoughts for the entire race.
  • Stay focused and avoid falling asleep (when you allow your mind to wander and you disengage).
  • Finish the race knowing that I gave 100% and didn’t leave anything out on the course.

None of these goals have anything to do with my pace. If I accomplish those 4 goals, then it really doesn’t matter what the time is on the clock.


Hopefully, you find reasons to make this race one of your favorites!


~ Jen Harney