I raced up a mountain, down a river, through city streets and across a desert in 2014. In all, I crossed the finish line of about 15 events last year, and I’m already plotting my 2015 race calendar.
Here is my 2014 list of favorites …
- Favorite free run: For nearly 20 years, runners have criss-crossed the city for the Black-Eyed Pea Run, starting near the Arboretum and heading downtown, with detours up Mount Bonnell for the gluttons for punishment in the group. For 2015 (because of city regulations) the Jan. 1 running route will start at finish at Rogue Running on Pressler and stick to city trails. Not sure if that’ll be as much fun, but I’m going to find out.
- Favorite Long Distance Trail Run: For the last three years, I’ve headed to Big Bend for the Big Bend Ultra, where I opt for the 25K distance. Trust me when I tell you there’s nothing more soul soothing than watching the sun come up over the Chisos Mountains at Big Bend National Park. I’m headed west again this year, but the race moves to Big Bend Ranch State Park farther west. Onward!
- Favorite local open water swim: The Cap2K starts at Red Bud Isle and finishes at the Texas Rowing Center next to Austin High School. The spring swim is chilly, it’s refreshing, you can watch great blue herons and turtles along the way, and it’s downhill – what else do you need? A post-race picnic? OK, it’s got that too.
- Favorite Mountain Bike Event: Again, head to the Big Bend, where Texas Parks and Wildlife Department teams with Desert Sports to put on a multi-day mountain biking event which includes my favorite ride – a two-day journey with an overnight in the Big House at the park’s headquarters in Sauceda, where you can take a hot shower. Heaven.
- Favorite Austin 10K: I love the annual rite of spring we call the Cap 10K, especially when you’ve made it up that brutal hill on Enfield Drive and are about to turn left onto the Loop 1 access road and a high school band underneath the overpass starts playing the theme from “Rocky.” Chills, every time.
- Favorite Beach Town 5K: Another first for me in 2014 – the Bay St. Louis Crab Festival 5K. The best part? The prizes – an assortment of fireworks, which we set off that night along with several hundred other revelers near the beach.
- Favorite Out-of-State Road Race: I’ve been racing the Blueberry Festival 5K in South Haven, Michigan, for more than 20 years, so I’m biased. Two years ago they added a 10K, so I did the races back to back. I did them again this year. The weather’s always cool even thought it’s August, and finishers get to gorge on blueberries. Yum!
- Favorite Costume Run: When else can I pull out my Superwoman costume, complete with cape, and dash alongside Superman and Batman? The CASA Superhero Run, which moved this year to the Cedar Park Center, makes me feel fleet-footed and super-powered, and proceeds go to a great cause.
- Favorite Relay: For the first time in 2014, I ran the Zilker Relays, a long-time tradition among the city’s running community. Teams of four blaze through Zilker Park for city-wide bragging rights, but you don’t have to be an elite to participate. This year, the weather changed for each leg of the race – hot and sunny, then pre-storm humidity, then downpour and finally clearing skies. And Team Statesman won the media division!
- Favorite Out-of-State Trail Run: I tackled The Rut 12K in Big Sky, Montana this year, running about 6 miles straight up a mountain, then descending 2 more (with the help of ropes to get down the steepest parts) to the base. I still can’t believe how much fun it was!
What’s on your 2015 race calendar?