Believe it or not, it isn’t quite summer yet. Sure feels like it though and the Maudie’s Moonlight Margarita Run 5K on Thursday night is our favorite way to kick off the hot summer. The racing scene in the ATX can be pretty dormant in the summer, but for the 10th straight year we can count on the Margarita 5-K for a competitive, fast race. And, did I mention, it’ll be smokin’ hot?

Heat is as much a tradition at the Margarita Run as well…the post-race margaritas. Three years ago, the race shifted from its traditional August date to a more temperate June evening, but the temps on Thursday evening should be still be toasty which is just fine for this race.

And this year, the race takes on added significance as it just so happens to coincide with the grand opening on Sunday of the The Boardwalk section of the Butler/Lady Bird Lake Trail which The Trail Foundation oversees and maintains.

Still, there’s plenty of other great things to like about the 10th annual Maudie’s Moonlight Margarita Run. Allow me to count the ways:

1. Fast, out-and-back course along Cesar Chavez with a nice chunk of it on a gentle downhill.
2. Ice-cold beer, frozen margaritas and a complete Mexican buffet—courtesy of Maudie’s– awaiting at the finish.
3. Cool T-shirts.
4. Evening start.
5. Plenty of good pre and post-race music.
6. All the money raised from entry fees goes direct to The Trail Foundation, keepers of the Butler/Lady Bird Lake Hike and Trail.
7. Did I mention the beer and ‘ritas?

One of the few evening races in town, the Margarita Run will begin at 8 p.m. underneath the MoPac bridge, right outside Austin HS. The 5-K will start and finish right near The Rock. Best place to park is across Lady Bird Lake in Zilker Park and walk across the pedestrian bridge.

The Margarita Run is certainly fun, but it’s really just a nice excuse to get together on a warm night and raise some much needed money for The Trail Foundation—the nonprofit which does so much to maintain and improve our beautiful Butler Trail.

We all use the trail. Running the Margarita race, is the least we can do to support the work of the Foundation and this race annually raises nearly $60,000 which is plowed right back into the trail and trail improvements such as the water fountains and new bathrooms at The Rock, not to even mention the Boardwalk.

But let’s face it, the Moonlight Margarita Run has become so popular because of the awesome party after the hot, sweaty running is done. Just up the street from the finish is the American Legion Hall—party HQ—where tons of food and drink await. There will be a full Mexican buffet catered by Maudie’s with plenty of food stations to avoid congestion. More importantly, there will be six tables set up with beer and margaritas in need of thirsty runners.

Because there isn’t enough beer and Mexican food to feed every hungry runner in town, the post-race party is capped at 600. With close to 1000 runners expected, a lot of folks are going to be wondering where the margaritas are. (Hint: Enter today.) But new this year is the addition of margaritas at the finish line. Anyone 21 and over won’t go home thirsty.

As Susan Rankin, executive director of the Trail Foundation said, “The Moonlight Margarita Run has grown every year. Not only do runners want to have a fun race, but they also want to have a good time and give something back to the Trail. This is The Trail Foundation’s main fund raiser so all the money raised directly benefits the trail and everyone who uses it.”

Packet pickup and registration (if there’s room left) begins today (Tuesday) at Luke’s Locker from 10-6:30 p.m. and continues on Wednesday. On raceday, packet pick up and registration goes from 10-2 p.m. at Luke’s before shifting to the American Legion Hall (2201 Veterans) to pick up your race packet from 3:30-8 p.m.

Be there.