Let’s face it, our race calendar is jammed year ‘round with high quality races, many of which have been for years. We’re lucky to have so many great races, but because we do, there have been very few new races that have tried to make a significant dent on the Austin running market.
Enter the Austin 10/20 10-Mile Race this Sunday (April 15th). This race has been in the planning stage for nearly three years. Practically, the moment long-time race director Peter Douglas moved to Austin from San Diego, where he was one of the principles of the Rock ‘n’ Roll series of half marathons and marathons, was when he began working on developing a similar music-theme race for Austin.
And now, finally, the 10/20 race is almost here. It has all the ingredients of a big-time race with a hefty purse, a national-class field, a flat, fast course and—intrinsic to the Rock ‘n’ Roll success story—music. Plenty of music. But Douglas took that approach one step further. Rather than just have a band every mile of the course and leave gaps, Douglas wanted a band every half mile (20 in all) in order to have music practically every step of the way.
It also provided Douglas with a unique name for his race—the 10/20. That is, 10 miles with 20 bands and one headliner (Everclear) at the finish.
Says Douglas, “With my background of putting on huge races, I just wanted to do something similar for Austin. But I didn’t want to just have a race for the sake of having one. I wanted to bring all the elements together to put on a major event. From the beginning stages, I wanted a highly competitive race, but also a race which was going to be a fun, exciting event for the average runner. And I think we’re going to have that.”
The field is the deepest, most competitive that any Austin race has ever had. Although Douglas didn’t pay appearance money or travel expenses, the total prize purse of $23,000 has attracted a field worthy of a nationally significant race. The winners will receive $5000, it’s $3000 for second, $2000 for third and $1000 for fourth. There’s also $5000 for a world 10-mile record bonus and $5000 for an American record. In addition, there’s masters money and any Texans get a 20 percent boost in prize money.
The listed records for 10 miles are in some dispute. The distance is not an official distance (and it is seldom run), but the current world record for a sanctioned 10-mile race is 45:38, set in 1995 by Ismael Kirui. However, some contend the world record is 45:13 by Ian Stewart, set in 1977. Adding to the confusion is Haile Gebreselassie ran 44:24 in 2005. The women’s 10-mile world record is equally muddy. Mary Keitany ran 50:05 en route to a 65:50 half marathon and most consider that the record.
The American 10-mile records currently listed are 46:13 by Greg Meyer in 1983 at the Cherry Blossom Road Race in Washington. The women’s American record is 51:31 by Deena Kastor in 2006 in Berlin. The American masters records are 49:34 by Paul Pilkington in 1998 and 55:36 by Stephanie Herbst-Lucke in 2003.
Chasing this hefty prize money, will be a roster of about 50 elites, including several top flight Kenyans and Ethiopians with a good chance of challenging the records. In addition, most of the top local racers who aren’t running the Boston Marathon will be in the 10/20. Some of the locals include two-time Cap 10,000 winner Scott MacPherson, San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll and Livestrong Austin Half champ David Fuentes, Bernard Manirakiza, Chass Armstrong and Matt Kutugata. The top women will include Betzy Jimenez, who won the Run for the Water 10-Mile in November (the only 10-miler of her life), as well as Hellen Rotich, Chris Kimbrough, Mattie Suver, Liz Shelton and Liza Galvan of San Antonio.
Douglas didn’t wanted to use an existing course (or even a previous one such as the River City course) so he worked tirelessly with The Domain to come up with a very flat and potentially extremely fast course. The start/finish will be at two separate “village’ areas at The Domain on Alterra Parkway right near Esperanza in North Austin. The start and finish are within a few hundreds of each other.
Race time is set for 8 a.m. and Douglas is expecting approximately 9-10,000 runners. More than 8000 have already registered.
As with any of the Rock ‘n’ Roll events that Douglas produced, the post race festivities are key. And 10/20 will be no exception. In the finish area, there will plenty of food (including barbecue) and the Miller64 Beer Garden. The show by Everclear is scheduled to begin at 10:45.
Again, race time is 8 a.m.