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Texas Marathon Season Gets Underway Saturday; Three More Next Weekend

There’s a nasty rumor going around that summer is finally over and done with. Thank goodness. Marathon season has started all over the country.

Central Texans have been racing all over the country at major marathons in Minneapolis, Portland, St. George and last Sunday in Chicago, Baltimore, Hartford and Scranton. Coming up, are marathons in Kansas City, Marine Corps, New York City, San Antonio, Philadelphia, Sacramento and plenty of other great fall 26-milers.

But here in Central Texas, the kickoff for marathon season is on Sunday (October 20th) with the first running of the Hill Country Marathon in Marble Falls. This new event starts in Marble Falls on the high school track before venturing out into the country on rural, hilly roads. There’s also a 10-K and half marathon.

Packet pick up is at Rogue Equipment in Austin on Thursday (noon-7 p.m.) and then on Friday at Rogue’s Cedar Park location. On Saturday, packet pick up shifts to Marble Falls where it will be at the Double Horn Brewing Company from 4-7 p.m. There is race day packet pick up as well.

For more info, go to Hill Country Marathon.

The following weekend, things really get rolling with three marathons: Chosen: Marathon for Adoption in New Braunfels, the Frankenthon Monster Marathon in Cedar Park and Marathon2Marathon in the tiny southwest Texas town of Marathon, Texas.

This will be the fourth year for the Chosen race which will be held on Saturday (October 26th) which benefits orphans and adoptive families. It’s an out-and-back course which starts and finishes in beautiful Gruene and goes along River Road . There’s also a half marathon.

Packet pick up begins on Thursday (October 24) at Jack & Adam’s (1210 Barton Springs Rd) in Austin from 11-7 p.m. On Friday, it shifts to iRun in San Antonio (2602 NW Loop Suite 106) and U Run (1528 E. Common St) in New Braunfels. You must specify where you will be pick up your packet.

For more info, go to Chosen Marathon.

The Frankenthon—the brainchild of Austin marathoner Frank Livaudais—will also be on Saturday, October 26th. This will be the fifth year of this low-key race (about 300 runners) in Cedar Park, just north of Austin.

It’s a three-loop course which is held in the Brushy Creek State Park (3300 Brushy Creek Road) on concrete and gravel trail. Packet pick and registration is at Rogue Equipment in Cedar Park on Friday from 4-7 p.m. There is raceday registration and packet pick up at the start of the race from 6-6:50 a.m.

For info, go to Frankenthon.

This will be the 10th anniversary of Marathon2Marathon or M2M (October 26). Even though it’s a haul out there, M2M is a popular destination race with Central Texans who like rural running at its best.

Don’t expect any bands, fireworks, hoopla or much of anything else. You won’t have to worry about starting grids or trading elbows with 5000 other marathoners. Not in M2M.

Plenty of Central Texans make a weekend out of it and run one of the races: In addition to the marathon, there’s also a half marathon, 10-K and a 5-K.

The race’s motto is; “The hard part is getting there.” Indeed. Marathon (population 600) is a ways off. It’s in tiny Brewster County and it isn’t too close to much of anything. Heck, the nearest commercial airport is Odessa/Midland and that’s 170 miles to the north. From Austin, it’s about 375 miles due west but worth it for the unique running experience that M2M offers.

First off, it isn’t likely to be warm. Even though it’s still a little toasty for marathoning in Central Texas, Marathon is on a high plateau with an average mean temperature this time of year of 62 degrees. No humidity to speak of either. If it isn’t windy (and it often is), M2M has almost perfect marathoning conditions for this time of year.

But the friendly temperatures (and low humidity) are counterbalanced by the altitude. It isn’t Pike’s Peak high, but Marathon’s elevation is 4040 feet which is lofty enough that flatlanders will certainly notice. Still, Marathon is lower than Denver, but higher than San Antonio.

Race times at M2M are generally slower than the average marathon. Winning times are much, much slower, mostly because you won’t find any world-class runners in Marathon. This is a peoples’ race; elites need not apply.

Last year, Fred Fletcher of Austin won it in 3:15 over Colin Bond of Kyle in 3:17. Stefan Grater of San Antonio was third. Amanda Bergstrom of Austin was the women’s winner in 345.

Last year’s half was won by Alexis Ontiveros of Ft. Stockton in 1:24, but Austinites took the next seven places. Chris Gunderson of Austin was second last year in 1:28 and he will be returning to M2M.

Even if M2M isn’t a PR course, the race makes up for it with hospitality and small-town charm. (There’s a pasta dinner Friday night.) A small marathon like this would barely be a blip in Dallas or Austin, but in Marathon this is a huge event for this community which bills itself as “The Gateway to Big Bend National Park” as it is just 40 miles south of town.

Marathon doesn’t have much of a running history. In fact, it doesn’t have any. The marathon is about it. But the way the town got its name has everything to do with the marathon.

Seems in 1882 a retired sea captain and local resident by the name of Albion Shepard said the the high desert plateau reminded him of the famed Marathon in Greece from which Phidippides ran to tell Athenians of the victory over Persia in 490 B.C. And then promptly dropped dead.

Thus, Marathon, Texas was so named.

For more information, go to www.marathon2marathon.net.