As the folks at High Five Events contemplate and work on the 2017 Austin Marathon course, there's one aspect of it I hope they pretty much ignore: The scenery. I'm not advocating that the new course—if, in fact, there is a new one—consist of 26 laps around the Travis County Expo Center. I'm simply suggesting that the most overrated aspect of a marathon course is its scenic qualities.
I happen to be one of those runners who loves to race. Always have. And the distance I love to race the most is the half marathon. I’m certainly not alone in my affinity for the half as it is the fastest growing road race distance. In 2014, more than 2 million of us finished a half which is an all-time high and more than triple what it was 10 years ago.
Now that marathon season is—finally--over and done with in Central Texas, we can turn our attention to shorter spring races. With all that hard-fought fitness in the bank after months of long runs, the shorter races are a good way to work on speed and leg turnover. Fortunately, we have a well-established circuit of several high-caliber races.
As had been rumored, Rogue Running pulled the plug on its Rogue Distance Festival in Cedar Park after four years. The Rogue Festival's primary race was its 30-K which has long been a mainstay of the Austin Distance Challenge.
That Boston is the greatest marathon in America (much less the world) is pretty much incontrovertible. It's the oldest marathon, held on the same historic course and played out in front of wildly enthusiastic crowds that absolutely lives for Patriot's Day. Boston is the one race every marathoner dreams of running and I've always felt every marathoner should get that chance once - qualifier or not.
My most memorable Austin Marathon was the one in 1989 run by RunTex which included a 5K, Half Marathon, and Full Marathon. It was my very first running event, so I ran the 5K but was able to stick around at the end to watch the half marathoners finishing at the same time as the full marathoners due to the staggered start. It inspired me enough to continue my training so that I could go the full distance in 1992 when the current Austin Marathon race started.
The Austin Marathon means a lot of different things, but one of the best aspects of the race is its charity-driven tradition. There are 25 official charities that take part in Austin and raise funds, boosted in no small part by the Moody Foundation which matches all donations up to $10,000 for each charity.
The US Olympic Marathon Trials will be held February 13th in Los Angeles and Austin will be well-represented with seven Trials qualifiers. None of the Austinites are expected to contend for one of top three spots for men and women who will go to the Olympics in Rio in August, but for five of the seven, just getting to the Trials has been a victory in itself. The only two with Trials experience - Allison Macsas and Scott MacPherson - are also the healthiest and have the best chance of being competitive in Los Angeles.
Paul Perrone, one of the long-time stalwarts of our running and triathlon community, is heading out of town soon for a new job. I mention this because Paul is someone who has run the gamut from top college at UTSA and open runner (a sub-four minute miler) to shoe company rep to race director to owner of his own rep agency. He is truly one of the good guys who would give you the shirt (and jacket) off his back.
Don't look now, but the Austin Marathon is just over the horizon and it will be here on February 14th before you know it. If Austin is your first marathon, you need to start formulating a game plan today. You had a training plan to prepare you for the Austin Marathon; now you need a marathon plan. Failure to have a good one is a prescription for failure.
On-line registration closes tomorrow night (January 20) at midnight for the crown jewel of the Austin racing season: The 3M Half Marathon. Long recognized as one of the top half marathons in the country, 3M has earned national recognition due to its fast, north-to-south course, peerless race organization and over-the-top goodie bag of 3M products.
HOUSTON - Austinites were so much in evidence in Houston this weekend running the Chevron Marathon, Aramco Half or the ABB 5-K, that it was difficult wherever one went - expo, starting lines, restaurants - to not run into a fellow Austin runner or clumps of them. Every training group from Austin was well-represented with herds of Gilberts Gazelles, Rogue Runners and other groups cruising around downtown.
The New York Times was the first to report the story earlier today: Hall, 33, who was one of the last remaining hopes for an American front-runner in this summer’s Olympic marathon, is succumbing to chronically low testosterone levels and fatigue so extreme, he says, that he can barely log 12 easy miles a week. [...]
On the New Year's Day runs and long runs last weekend, there was a lot of chatter about New Year's Resolutions, but I didn't hear many runners - actually any - who had made a single one. It seems those types of annual resolutions are for other people to make, not us. The old stand-byes of starting an exercise program, quitting smoking, losing weight, running a marathon, ad nauseam - just doesn't seem to float with too many of us.
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.