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38th Cap 10K on Sunday; Rain in the forecast

The 38th annual Austin American Statesman Capitol 10,000—Austin’s annual spring fling and the largest 10-K in Texas—gets underway Sunday morning (April 12) at 8 a.m. at its traditional starting point on S. Congress Avenue at Barton Springs Road, right across the street from the Austin Statesman. Nearly 20,000 runners, walkers and a wide variety of other costumed things are expected. Last year, more than 16,000 participated in the Cap 10.

Conditions for Sunday morning are very iffy. The long-range forecast is for rain in the morning with temps cloudy skies with temps in the low 70s when the race begins. And, like many recent Cap 10’s, the humidity will be high.

On-line registration for the Capitol 10,000 closes Saturday at noon, but late registration will also be available, beginning Friday at noon until 7 at the Palmer Events Center (900 Barton Springs Rd.) and Saturday from 9-6 p.m.

If you’re one of the handful of Austin runners who has never run the Capitol 10,000, you are in for a treat. But be forewarned: The Cap 10 course is not an easy one. Right from the starting line, there are all sorts of ups and steep downs, which when compounded with the expected humidity and possible rain, can make for a challenging run.

In the first mile, the Cap 10 course climbs north on Congress to the Capitol. From there, the course goes up and down on a short stretch of San Jacinto before the real fun begins on 15th Street. Heading west on 15th, begins the most difficult part of the course with a series of long, grinding hills with the steepest ascent on Enfield between the second and third mile.

The Enfield hills are very tricky and must be ascended carefully. After that though, the running gets much easier on a relatively benign stretch of Winsted (miles three to four) along MoPac which brings the massive field down toward Lake Austin. Just like the past three years, the course heads a couple of hundred meters west on Lake Austin Boulevard before heading down the steep hill at Veterans (across from Magnolia’s at about mile 4).

After swinging around Austin HS, the final 1½ miles heads east along Cesar Chavez where the familiar series of devilish little uphills in the final half mile will test your resolve just before you hit the South 1st Street Bridge in the last stretch to the finish on Riverside along Auditorium Shores. That’s where the post-race party begins.

The course records are Eric Chirchir‘s 29:24 (set in 2013) and Natalie Nalepa’s 33:43, set in 1997.

Neither record is likely to be threatened this year. Three-time Cap 10 champ Scott MacPherson took a shot at Chirchir’s record last year, but fell just short, winning in 29:36. MacPherson will not defend his title this year as he is in his final preparations for the Boston Marathon on April 20th.

Natalie Nalepa’s women’s course record is virtually untouchable. Last year’s winner was Chris Kimbrough who ran a great race in 35:36.

Parking is always an issue for a race of this size. Best places to park are the free TexDot lots off Riverside but those fill up quickly. OneTexas Center has paid parking at South 1st and Barton Springs as does Palmer Events Center. There’s also plenty of parking west of Congress on the north south of Lady Bird Lake.

This year’s race benefits The Trail Foundation which will receive $1 for every entrant. In addition, the Statesman will match up to $10,000 of donations from runners’ donations to SafePlace – an agency which hopes to prevent sexual and domestic violence in Travis County.

Packet pickup, pre-race registration and the runners’ expo begins on Friday at the Palmer Events Center and continues through Saturday. There is no packet pick up or registration on race morning.

For more info go to www.cap10k.com.