Bell Wealth ManagementLet’s face it, our race calendar is jammed year-round with high quality races, many of which have been around for years. We’re lucky to have so many great races, but because we do, there have been very few new races that have made a significant impact on the Austin running scene.

Enter the Austin 10/20 10-Mile Race this Sunday (April 13th). Practically, the moment long-time race director Peter Douglass moved to Austin from San Diego five years ago, where he was one of the principles of the Rock ‘n’ Roll series of half marathons and marathons, he began working on developing a similar music-theme race for Austin.

And now, the 10/20 race is in its third year and already a must-do race. It has all the ingredients of a big-time race with a hefty prize money purse, a national-class field, a flat, fast course and – intrinsic to the Rock ‘n’ Roll success story – music. Plenty of music. But Douglass took that approach one step further. Rather than just have a band every mile of the course as the Rock ‘n’ Roll races do and leave gaps, Douglass’ idea for Austin was a band every half mile (20 in all) in order to have music practically every step of the way.

It also provided Douglass with a unique name for his race – the 10/20. That is, 10 miles with 20 Austin-area bands and one headliner (Puddle of Mudd) at the finish-line party.

Says Douglass, “With my background of putting on huge races, I just wanted to do something similar for Austin. But I didn’t want to just have a race for the sake of having one. We bring all the elements together to put on a major event. From the beginning stages, I wanted a highly competitive race, but also a race which was going to be a fun, exciting event for the average runner. And I think we’ve accomplished that in the first two years. (The concept has proven so successful that in February, Douglass added another 10/20 race – this one in Del Mar, California.)

austin 1020 prize moneyAttracted in part by lucrative prize money, the field for the 10/20 at The Domain in north Austin is deep and competitive with a glittering array of world-class runners. Although Douglas doesn’t pay appearance money or travel expenses, the total prize purse of $23,000 has attracted a field worthy of a nationally significant race. The winners will receive $3000, $2000 for second, $1000 for third and $500 for fourth. There’s also $5000 for a world 10-mile record bonus and $5000 for an American record. In addition, there’s masters money as well as $3000 reserved exclusively for Travis County residents and any Texan who scores prize money gets a 20 percent boost.

The listed records for 10 miles are in some dispute. The distance is not an official distance (and it is seldom run), but the current world record for a sanctioned 10-mile race is 45:38, set in 1995 by Ismael Kirui. However, some contend the world record is 45:13 by Ian Stewart, set in 1977. Adding to the confusion is Haile Gebreselassie ran 44:24 in 2005. The women’s 10-mile world record is equally muddy. Mary Keitany ran 50:05 en route to a 65:50 half marathon and most consider that the record.

The American 10-mile records currently listed are 46:13 by Greg Meyer in 1983 at the Cherry Blossom Road Race in Washington. The women’s American record is 51:31 by Deena Kastor in 2006 in Berlin. The American masters records are 49:34 by Paul Pilkington in 1998 and 55:36 by Stephanie Herbst-Lucke in 2003.

Chasing this hefty prize money will be a roster of about 50 elites, including several top flight Kenyans and Ethiopians with a good chance of challenging the records. In addition, several of the top local racers who aren’t running the Boston Marathon will be in the 10/20. Some of the locals include former UT All American Rory Tunningley, Lauren Smith and possibly David Fuentes.

The top-flight international field includes Sammy Kiplagat, Julius Koskei, Benson Cheruiyot, James Kirwa and Sharack Kosgei. Top women include Angel Ramirez, Caroline Kiptoo, Cynthia Jerop and Dawn Novosad.

The 10/20 course is a an extremely fast – ie., flat – and it’s a gem. The start/finish will be at two separate “village” areas at The Domain (right near IBM) on Alterra Parkway right near Esperanza in North Austin. The start and finish are within a few hundred meters of each other.

There’s plenty of parking, but get there early (before 7:30). To access the race site off north MoPac, get off at Braker or Duval and follow the signs. If you’re coming from the north, exit MoPac at Duval.

Race time is set for 8 a.m. and Douglas is expecting approximately 6-7000 runners. If you haven’t registered, you can still register at the pre-race expo at the Crowne Plaza Hotel (6121 North 1-35) which go from 11-7 on Friday and 9-5 on Saturday. If you live in San Antonio, you can pick up your race packet at Soler’s Sports Jackson Keller location (2589 Jackson Keller Rd) on Saturday.

As with any of the Rock ‘n’ Roll events that Douglas produced, the post race festivities are key. And 10/20 will be no exception. In the finish area, there will plenty of food (including barbecue) and the always popular beer garden (one is free). The show by Puddle of Mudd is scheduled to begin at 10:45.

Again, race time is 8 a.m.