The 2013-14 Austin Fit Magazine Distance Challenge Series is in the books after a string of six high quality races of varying distances that defined the fall and winter racing calendar. No word yet on 2014-15 dates yet, but there are almost always changes to the races that make up the Distance Challenge.

A brief overview:

The IBM Uptown Classic 10-K (October 6). In all probability, this was the final IBM Uptown Classic in its north Austin location at The Domain. Next fall, Luke’s Locker, which has directed and handle race logistics for the past two years, will take over the event and move it to a different site which hasn’t been decided yet. Despite a drop in participation, IBM had one of its best races with picture perfect fall conditions (clear, cool and dry) and fast times. Two former UT milers—Erik Stanley and Betzy Jimenez (now Childers)–were the overall winners. For Childers, it was her third consecutive IBM victory. For Stanley, it would be the first of four DC victories.

Run for the Water 10-Miler (October 27). One of the best 10-mile races in the country, the seventh annual Run for the Water was delayed by about 15 minutes to allow a wicked cold front, deluge and lightning display pass through the downtown area. Once the fierce storm passed, calm but very humid conditions slowed many in the record field of 4300 runners. The near 100-percent humidity didn’t seem to bother David Fuentes or Tia Martinez who both set 10-mile personal bests. Fuentes won for the second year in a row in a best of 49:07, while Martinez ran unopposed in 55:30. Of special note was Rory Tunningley, a former UT star originally from Lockhart, ran his first high-level road race and pressed Fuentes for much of the way before finishing second in 49:57.

Decker Challenge Half Marathon (December 8). The weather forecast for Decker was scary with ice fog and sleet predicted, but neither materialized. Instead, conditions were just like they should be for Decker—cold. Fortunately, the roads were dry and the normal punishing north winds weren’t in evidence. Nevertheless. it was so cold out on the hills surrounding Decker Lake that women’s division winner Jennifer Harney was so numb after finishing that she said, “The last two miles I could barely lift my legs. I couldn’t feel anything.” Still, Harney easily won her division in a PR of 1:23:10, while Erik Stanley, who was bothered by lingering injuries, ran unchallenged to win by two minutes in 1:09:16.

Rogue Distance Festival 30-K (January 5). The newest race in the Distance Challenge, this was only the second year of the Rogue 30-K but it was one of the best races in the entire series. Sporting a mostly flat, winding, suburban course which started and finished at Cedar Park HS, the 30-K proved to be perfectly positioned on the calendar for marathoners tackling upcoming marathons such as Houston, Austin, Napa, Cowtown and Army. A cold front blew through Cedar Park just before sunrise and lowered the temps to the high 30s but with a punishing 25 mph north wind. Erik Stanley was once again the class of the field, running all by himself to victory in 1:40:05. Stefanie Slekis, the cross-country coach at the University of North Texas, came down from Denton to win in 2:02:18. Times for both the 30-K (18.6 miles) and half marathon were slower than expected as both courses were slightly long.

3M Half Marathon (January 19). The always fast, PR-friendly 3M Half Marathon lived up to its reputation for the 20th consecutive year. With the fastest course in the series (a downhill, point-to-point favorite), 3M was also aided by ideal 40-degree temps and a modest tailing north wind. Once again, Erik Stanley ran all alone to win in 1:06:38. Pro trigal Kelly Williamson took a break from her off season training to win 3M for the third straight year although it was her slowest winning time in 1:16:34. (Her husband-coach-domestique Derick Williamson would retain family half marathon honors by finishing fourth in the Austin Half Marathon in February in 1:12:32.)

Austin Marathon (February 16). The biggest, most prestigious race in the DC series (and Austin), the marathon and half marathon had combined fields of 17,000 runners on an overcast, drizzly morning with soaring humidity. Race officials reported that every state in the US was represented to challenge the hilly course – plus over 500 visitors from Mexico. For the first time in several years, the Austin Marathon (and Half) offered prize and bonus money which attracted an elite field. Big winners were Joseph Mutinda of Kenya who ran an impressive 2:14:17 (just off the course record) and Marnie Staehly of San Antonio who won the women’s division in 2:57:26. Erik Stanley was the first Austinite in sixth place in a solo 2:28:33. First Austin woman was Jena Kincaid who had a massive PR of 2:58 to take second. Jennifer Harney was third in another PR of 3:02:58. With their high placings in the marathon, Harney and Stanley both clinched the overall titles in the Distance Challenge series.

The overall and master winners for both divisions are listed below. For a full list of results, visit

Distance Challenge Winners
Overall Female Jennifer Harney
Female Masters Julie Stansberry
Overall Male Erik Stanley
Male Masters Jim Cleary
Overall Female Mandi Makarski
Female Masters Audrey Herold
Overall Male Joshua Slocum
Male Masters Larry Bright