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.
Here are six of my favorites for spring:
Ash Dash 5-K (March 26). This little 5-K has been around for 12 years and is run around the Austin State Hospital Campus, just off MoPac at 35th Street. The race benefits the hospital where children and adults get treatment for mental illnesses. The course is two loops around the hospital on a mostly flat course with a couple of ups and downs. There are even cash awards for the top guy and gal. To register, go to Ash Dash 5K.
Lockhart Kiwanis 5-K Stampede (April 2). This is—by far—the smallest and most intimate of my favorite spring races, but also one of the best. I’ve run this race for most of its 10 years and love its small town feel and community spirit. Lockhart also has the flattest, fastest 5-K course in Central Texas and it’s the perfect course to try and set a PR. Most of the top high-school runners in town use this race to test their fitness so you know it’s fast. The Stampede starts and finishes near downtown and even though Lockhart’s famed barbeque spots aren’t part of the race package, many runners eat an early lunch at one of the many places around town. The Stampede also has distinctive age-group awards (usually a cowbell). To register or for more info, go to www.bswarms.com/swarm396.
Austin 10/20 (April 3). For the fifth year, the Austin 10/20 will fill up the roads around The Domain with thousands of runners covering 10 miles to the accompaniment of 20 bands. The course is mostly flat although it can be windy which evens things out. There’s also an elite field competing for prize money. The 10/20 emphasizes its music theme with a headliner band for postrace festivities at the Central Park in The Domain. A top-notch race with plenty to offer for racers of all levels. To register, go to austin1020.com.
Austin American Statesman Capitol 10,000 (April 10). Austin’s annual spring fling is as much a costume party as actual race. It is the one race nearly everyone in Austin runs or walks. With upward of 20,000 participants, the Cap 10,000 has been around for 39 years and is the largest 10-K in Texas and one of the biggest in the country. It’s also one of the most competitive as many of the top racers duke it out for honors. The Cap 10,000 course certainly isn’t an easy one as the first three miles are very hilly. The race starts on the Ann Richards/Congress Avenue Bridge and heads north up Congress before looping around and finishing at Auditorium Shores. To register or for more info, go to www.cap10k.com.
Silicon Labs Sunshine 5-K and 10-K (May 8). For years, this was the Bun Run 5-K, but a new sponsor—Silicon Labs—jumped in two years ago and rebranded it as the Sunshine 5-K or 10-K. It’s the same course as the old Bun Run and the same beneficiary (Sunshine Camps). Even though there are two distance options, most stick with the 5-K which goes west on Cesar Chavez and then turns around outside the Austin HS fields before finishing at Auditorium Shores. The 10-K follows the same course before turning around at Exposition on Lake Austin Boulevard. Both courses are relatively fast with an equal amount of uphill and downhills. There’s also prize money for the top runners. For more info and to register, go to www.austinsunshinerun.com.
Deutschen Pfest 5-K (May 22). Part of the 41st annual Deutschen Pfest in Pflugerville (at the Pfluger Hall), this small, community race has a terrific loop course (a couple of rolling hills) through a neighborhood and usually offers tasty post-race food and a beautiful shirt. Plus, the shirt gets you directly into the Deutschen Pfest at nearby Pfluger Park. (At least it used to.) For info or to register, go to www.deutschenpfest. Com/pfamily-pfun/5k.