Summer hasn’t even heated up yet, but early registration opened this week for the 2012-13 Austin Fit Magazine Distance Challenge. Sign up between now and August 25th and you save $5 from the normal $50 fee. You still have to register separately for all the races, but if you register and complete the series you get a jacket.
The big change for the Distance Challenge is it reverts back to a six-race series with the addition of the Rogue 30-K on January 27th. The other races are the same as last year: IBM Uptown Classic 10-K (October 7), Run for the Water 10-Miler (October 28), Decker Half Marathon Challenge (December 9), 3M Half Marathon (January 13) and finally the Livestrong Austin Marathon and Half Marathon on February 17. The 3M race date is two weeks earlier than last year.
Adding a sixth race makes a lot of sense. Adding a 30-K (18.6 miles) in between 3M and Livestrong makes absolutely no sense at all. Certainly it’s a crowded race calendar and given the fact that runners need to train and recover in time for the next race, it’s always tough to slot in a new race on a date which works for everyone.
I get that. But November is wide open and there’s a gaping six weeks between the Run for the Water and Decker. A date either before or after Decker would be infinitely preferable than 20 days before the key race in the entire series: Livestrong.
It’s hard to imagine any marathon coaches recommending that Livestrong runners race the Rogue 30-K. Maybe slowly jogging it as a final long run to preserve their DC status will be OK, but racing it? Even experienced marathoners in prime shape would need at least a week, maybe two, to recover from a 30-K which would jeopardize their final Livestrong prep time. For new or inexperienced marathoners, using a 30-K as a final last race is to great a distance without enough time to recover from 3M before or afterward for Livestrong.
In the past, most coaches in town have discouraged their marathoners from racing 3M when it was just 14 or 21 days out from Livestrong. When the old RunTex 30-K in Buda was still around, that preceded 3M. Even so, that squeezed three long, tough races into a five or six-week window. Way too much.
This new schedule replicates that. Actually, it’s much harder since the new 30-K is even closer to the Livestrong date. Compounding the problem, the current Livestrong Marathon course is much more difficult than the old Motorola course that was used back then and requires even fresh legs.
The Distance Challenge has been around forever and its primary intent—to prepare runners for the marathon—by utilizing a unified series of races has been duplicated by many other running communities.
Some Austin runners cherry pick DC events, while others run the entire series. But nearly every runner in town runs in at least some of the races. We’re fortunate to have the Distance Challenge as it gives us several of the best races in town.
But the 2012-13 DC schedule still needs plenty of tuning if it is to accomplish its stated goal of getting marathoners ready for Livestrong in a coherent, responsible way. Clearly, the 30-K is way too long and its race date too close to 3M and Livestrong for the health of the event, the Distance Challenge and most importantly, its customers.
- The Austin Runners Club manages the Austin Fit Magazine Distance Challenge and the ARC has a new president. Summer Smith takes over from Megan Baker after two years as president and Eli Asch is the new VP. Vance Taylor remains in charge of the DC.
- Three Austin friends and training partners—James Allen, Michael Budde and Patrick Hall—fulfilled a dream by going to South Africa for the Comrades Marathon (about 56 miles). For Budde and Hall, both South African natives, it was a return to their homeland to run the country’s most famous race. Michael ran it once before in 1989 when he finished in 7:42 and his goal this time was to better his ’89 time with a 7:30 which is what you need to earn a silver medal. Budde just missed that by three minutes, finishing in 7:32:52. Budde went through the marathon in 3:19 and halfway in 3:35. But, as Budde described it, “All hell broke loose with 20 miles to go. This is where most of the steep downhills are and my quads hurt so much, I couldn’t run the downhills. Looking back on my training, I don’t think I ran enough hills.” Hall, who had never run Comrades before, finished in 7:55, but James Allen, had to drop out with about nine miles to go.
- Quinn Carrozza, the 15-year-old daughter of Paul and Sheila Carrozza and one of the most gifted swimming prodigies in the country, swam in the Longhorn Elite Invitational last weekend. Quinn finished third in the 200-meter backstroke (2:12.32), seventh in the 100-meter backstroke in 1:03.71 and made it to the “B” finals in the 100 free (seventh in 27.68). Carrozza has already qualified for the Olympic Trials (June 25-July 2 in Omaha) in at least four events—the 100 and 200 freestyle and the 100 and 200 back. Her strongest event is probably the 200 free. Amazing.
- The White Rock Marathon…sorry, Dallas Marathon (December 9th) has announced major course changes. The marathoners and half marathoners will begin on the new downtown start along Main Street and then run the first 6½ miles together—incorporating the new west Dallas loop–before the half course verges off. The half runners will no longer merge onto the marathon course which, in the past, has created major difficulties. The new course will give marathoners a more direct route to White Rock Lake for the nine-mile circuit. Following that, the course is virtually the same as it has been for the past 10 years, says executive director Marcus Grunewald, including the notorious Dolly Parton hills, just off the lake. Both races will finish at the Dallas Convention Center, but have separate finishes. The course hasn’t been approved yet by the city, but registration has opened.
- Bummer that Dallas and the ’13 Houston conflict with Decker (December 9th) and 3M (January 13). Lottery registration and charity entry opened yesterday (through June 21st) for Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Half. Open registration gets underway June 22 and Houston expects it to close three days later—if not sooner.
- The Competitor Group, which owns and produces the Rock ‘n’ Roll series of races (including San Antonio and Dallas), and the Finish Line, parent company of The Running Company (two stores in Austin), have invested heavily in MapMyFitness Inc., MapMyFitness is the Austin-based which describes itself as “the leading fitness activity tracking technology platform for consumers and enterprises.” Founded five years ago, MapMyFitness has several websites, including the popular MapMyRun. The company says it has nine million users across all its sites.
- On the first day of the NCAA Track Champs in Des Moines, UT wide receiver-long jumper Marquis Goodwin won his specialty for the second year in a row with a PR of 27-0 which certainly thrusts him into a leading role for the Olympic Track Trials. All-world thrower Ryan Crouser was fourth in the discus yesterday with 196-1 and sophomore Ryan Dohner placed seventh in the 10,000 in 29:05. Marielle Hall runs the first round of the 1500 tonight.
- As usual, Carmen Troncoso headed back to Albany, New York last weekend for one of her favorite races–the Friehofer’s Run for Women 5-K. Carmen has won the masters division of Friehofer’s a record five times and though she can’t quite contend any more for top masters honors, the 52-year-old handily won her age group (50-54) in 18:12 (a USATF age group record). In the process, Troncoso beat The Legend—Joan Samuelson—who was second in 18:22.
- Sad to note the passing of Jason Kehoe, 64, earlier this week to natural causes. Kehoe was a towering presence at the Bill Rodgers Running Center in Boston since it opened in 1977. He grew up with Bill and Charlie Rodgers in Newington, Connecticut and maintained a lifetime involvement in running, racing and running retail. If you’ve ever been to the Rodgers store, Jason was impossible to miss with his huge, flowing beard and caustic wit.
- Equally sad is the passing of Sarah Holmes on Memorial Day. Sarah, 48, a long-time local runner, lost her battle with cancer. Her husband Randy died the day before she did.
- The Maudie’s Moonlight Margarita Run 5-K is coming up on June 14th (a Thursday night at 8 p.m.). This is the second year this fun race (the main fundraiser for the Trail Foundation) has shifted to a June date from mid-August and Susan Rankin of TTF, says it proved so popular last year (more folks in town, not quite as hot) that the race date will remain in June. Great event and this year TTF has upgraded its post race entertainment considerably with the incredibly gifted Guy Forsythe.
- What I’m listening to this morning: “All The Roadrunning,” by Emmylou Harris and Mark Knopfler.
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