The 4th Annual Rogue Distance Festival, which will be held this Sunday (January 10th) in Cedar Park, has plenty to offer: Two race distances held at virtually the same time on a very flat, fast course, with good logistics and a warm, dry spot for pre and post-race activities.

About 1000 runners are expected for either the 10-K or the 30-K, but the main race is the 30-K (18.6 miles). It’s the longest distance in the 2015-16 Austin Distance Challenge series (other than the marathon), but it’s not a new distance. The 30-K distance has been part of the DC series for many years, most notably with the RunTex 30-K, which was held for seven years on the rural country roads in Buda.

After the RunTex 30-K disappeared from the Distance Challenge following the 2008 race, the distance and its venues have been spotty until Rogue jumped in four years years ago to reinstate it. Still, 30-K is a tricky distance to actually race (few do) but it’s an ideal long run distance to utilize as practice for marathon goal pace for upcoming marathons such as Army, Napa, Boston, Cowtown and especially the upcoming Austin Marathon. The Austin Marathon pacers will be doing their thing in the 30-K with several pace groups. The signs in Cedar Park will refer to the marathon pace they plan on running (i.e., 3 hours, 3:30, etc).

The Rogue race is the fourth of the six race Distance Challenge series with the 3M Half in two weeks (January 24th) and the big enchilada – the Austin Marathon and Half – coming up on February 14th.

But first come the Rogue races. Both races will start and finish in the Cedar Park High School (2150 Cypress Creek Road in Cedar Park) parking lot. The 30-K starts first at 7 a.m.; the 10-K will begin 15 minutes later.

Although the half marathon distance has been eliminated this year, the exceptionally flat course remains the same for both races. There are some gradual hills, but nothing exceptionally hard. The first few miles are almost entirely flat and the few hills that exist don’t come into play until miles 8-10. Compared with the Decker hills, you might not even notice them.

Both courses go mostly through neighborhoods in Cedar Park and the courses have been tweaked slightly to eliminate bottle necks and allow better access to churches along the routes. The courses do have plenty of turns (some are tight), but unless you’re really flying, t hey aren’t a big deal.

Once again, the greatest factor on Sunday is likely to be the weather. This race has been plagued with brutally cold, wet, windy weather. There’s only a slight chance of precip in the forecast for Sunday morning, but it’s almost certainly going to be pretty chilly with race time temps in the low 30s. Gloves and hats will be an absolute must. Also, bring dry clothes to change into immediately after the race. You can safely store your dry clothes in the heated Cedar Park HS cafeteria and change in one of the bathrooms.

There is still time to enter. Packet pick and registration will be held Friday (11-5) at Rogue Downtown (410 Pressler Street) and 11-7 at the Cedar Park location (2800 East Whitestone Blvd). On Saturday, packet pick up time will be 10-5 at both stores. There is limited packet pick up on Sunday morning starting at 6 for out of towners.