This Sunday will mark the eighth running of the Run for the Water 10-Miler–one of the crown jewels of the Austin Fit Magazine Distance Challenge. A record field of 5000 is expected for this year’s race (evenly divided between the 10-miler and accompanying 5-K) which promises to be the most prestigious and competitive in the race’s history.
The second race in the 2014-15 Distance Challenge series, the Run for the Water has the best, most scenic course in Austin as it runs along Lady Bird Lake and Lake Austin. The beautiful out-and-back course, which starts and finishes downtown on the South 1st Street Bridge, certainly isn’t an easy one as it has its fair share of hills, but none of the hills are insurmountable or particularly long.
The 10-Miler will begin at 7 a.m. while the 5-K gets underway 15 minutes later. A Kids K will begin at 9 a.m. The weather forecast for Sunday morning is seasonal with temps in the low 60s at the race start with scattered clouds.
Keller Williams Realty is once again the active title sponsor which allows the Gazelle Foundation as the race beneficiary to donate 100 percent of all race proceeds to water system projects in Burundi—the home country of Gilbert Tuhabonye. Due to the success of this race and its fund raising, the water projects have had a profound impact on 35,000 Burundians who now have access to clean and safe drinking water.
“Keller Williams Realty’s involvement demonstrates their commitment to helping others,” said Peter Rauch, Gazelle Foundation president. “This is our seventh race with Keller Williams as sponsor and even beyond their financial support, we have hundreds of Keller Williams Realty volunteers and race participants.”
Starting on the South 1st Street Bridge, the course heads west on Cesar Chavez and Lake Austin Boulevard. Near the Hula Hut along Lake Austin (approximately the 3-mile mark), the course makes the climb up the very familiar Scenic Loop to about the 5-mile mark. This 2-mile up-and-down is the toughest part of the course, but once the top of Scenic has been reached, the real fun begins.
The course barrels downhill on Pecos for 1 ½ miles to Enfield with the seventh mile marker right at the corner of Enfield and Exposition. After a short climb on Expo comes a sweet downhill back toward the lake and then heads back on Lake Austin and Cesar Chavez for the final two miles back to the finish on the 1st Street Bridge.
For the third year in a row, the Run for the Water will serve as the RRCA Southern Regional 10-Mile Championships so expect plenty of the top regional runners in the open, masters, senior masters (50+) and senior grand masters (60+) divisions.
There’s also prize money ($350 for first man and woman and $150 for the top masters) and some of the top Austin runners will compete for the prize pool. David Fuentes, who has won the past two RFTW, is back to defend. Last year, Fuentes dominated with a 49:07, the second fastest time in race history, bettered only by Scott MacPherson’s 48:49 in 2011. Tia Marie Martinez is set to maintain her crown, winning the 2013 race with a women’s course record of 55:30 (breaking the existing record by more than three minutes).
Other top runners to keep an eye on are Austin Bussing, Joseph McCellon, Lorin Wilson and Benny Rodriguez on the men’s side. Chasing down Tia Martinez on the women’s side will be Chris Kimbrough, Cassie Henkiel, Hannah Steffen, and a possible appearance by recent Kona Ironwoman Kelly Williamson.
Packet pick up and registration for the Run for the Water 10-Miler begins Thursday (noon-6:30) and continues on Friday (10-6:30) and Saturday (10-5:30) at Jack & Adam’s Bicycles (300 S. Lamar, right next to Schlotzky’s). There is race day packet pick up but it’s only for out-of-towners. That begins at 5 a.m. at the race start/finish area on South 1st.
There will be plenty of free parking available downtown as well as at several nearby paid parking garages such as One Texas Center and Long Center/Palmer Auditorium.
One of the highlights of the Run for the Water 10 is always the pre-race national anthem (s). In addition to the Star Spangled Banner, head Gazelle Gilbert Tuhabonye usually sings the national anthem of Burundi. He also has a troupe of Burundi drummers returning this year to play you through the finish line. It’s seriously something that can’t be missed.
For more info, go to www.runforthewater.com.