The ‘08-’09 Austin Distance Challenge gets underway in earnest on Sunday morning at 8 a.m. with the traditional first race in the series: The IBM Uptown Classic 10-K.
A record field of 3000 (up from 2500 last year) is expected for the ninth running of IBM which is the shortest, flattest and hottest race in the Distance Challenge. It’s also the fastest.
The course record of 29:03 by Eric Chirchir of Kenya in 2004 is also the city of Austin record and it’s one of the fastest 10-Ks ever run in Texas. In all, seven of the fastest 10 men’s 10-K’s in Austin have been run on the IBM course and five of the top 10 women’s times.
And as is traditional, IBM is offering $1000 to the man who can break Chirchir’s record or to the woman who can better Natalie Nalepa’s city mark of 33:43 which was set in 1997 during the Statesman Capitol 10,000.
Neither record is likely to be challenged on Sunday. Unlike in year’s past when world-class Kenyans were brought in for the race, none are expected this year. Nor are any international-class women planning to run.
Nevertheless, fast times and PR’s will abound on the flat IBM course which starts and finishes on the IBM campus in north Austin off of MoPac at 11501 Burnet Road, on the east side between Gault Lane and Kramer Lane.
There are quite a few turns on the course, but only a few are sharp enough to slow you down. But the best part is there are plenty of long straightaways, particularly along Burnet.
Best place to park is at IBM, but you have to get there before 7 a.m. because of road closures. If you get there after 7, head to the Domain (right off MoPac) and park at the huge lot at Macy’s. The race will start right across the street.
IBM has special significance this year as its beneficiary is the American Red Cross of Central Texas which has been hit hard by Hurricanes Ike and Gustav.
Packet pickup will be Friday (10-7) and Saturday (10-6) at Amplify Federal Credit Union at 2608 Brockton Drive, right off Burnet. There will be packet pickup on race morning, beginning at 6:30 at the start/finish line.
IBM will be the first of the six scoring events in the Austin Distance Challenge which culminates with the Austin Marathon on February 15th. Following IBM, the next race in the series November 9th with the Keller Williams Run for the Water 10-Miler.