Original members of 10th Mountain Division ski Riva Ridge in Vail

Hugh Evans, Dick Dirkes and Jimmy Nassar pose in front of a statue honoring the 10th Mountain Division in Vail. The men, all 90 years old, are veterans of the group.
Hugh Evans, Dick Dirkes and Jimmy Nassar pose in front of a statue honoring the 10th Mountain Division in Vail. The men, all 90 years old, are veterans of the group.

Things have changed on the Colorado slopes since the U.S. Army’s Soldiers on Skis prowled these mountains more than 70 years ago.
This morning Jimmy Nassar, Hugh Evans and Dick Dirkes, all 90 years old, all original members of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, were back in Vail for their annual ski-in.

Jimmy Nassar, an original member of the 10th Mountain Division, skis down Riva Ridge at Vail. Photo by Chris LeBlanc
Jimmy Nassar, an original member of the 10th Mountain Division, skis down Riva Ridge at Vail. Photo by Chris LeBlanc

The men trained at Camp Hale, just west of Vail, in the early 1940s. They learned to rock climb, ski and survive outdoors during the winter, then headed to Camp Swift near Bastrop, just down the road from Austin, for infantry training before they headed to Italy to fight in the mountains during World War II.
“Skiing in the woods with a 90-pound pack is not like skiing today,” Evans told me as the men and family members met at the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum in downtown Vail. “Recreational skiing is entirely different. Our skis were a means of transportation.”
Evans couldn’t ski today because he broke his ankle skiing last month, but Nassar and Dirkes took their traditional cruise down Riva Ridge, a run named in honor of the 10th Mountain Division’s capture of Riva Ridge in Italy in 1945. The ridge was considered unassailable, but the American soldiers climbed it in the dead of night and surprised the Germans who held it, ultimately leading to the liberation of Italy.
Today’s run down Riva Ridge was far different from those training runs the soldiers took so many years ago. Ski technology and clothing have advanced. And we’ve got lifts to whisk us up mountains so we can glide down in comfort.
Nassar and Dirkes looked far younger than their 90 years as they zigzagged through the snow, a bevy of admirers at their heels.
Visit Vail and you’ll surely hear about the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division. They’re credited with launching the ski industry in Colorado. After returning from the war, many of them went on to develop and operate ski resorts throughout the country.

Austin Fit’s Art of Fitness Walking program starts Tuesday

Members of an Austin Fit walking group meet in front of the Texas Capitol.
Members of an Austin Fit walking group meet in front of the Texas Capitol.

 

Running’s just not your thing? You can get many of the same benefits – with less risk of injury – from walking.

Austin Fit Walking will kick off its Art of Fitness Walking program on Tuesday, Feb. 24. The group will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays at the Austin Emergency Center, 3563 Far West Boulevard.

The eight-week training program focuses on two races – the Statesman Capitol 10,000 on April 12 and the Blue Bell Fun Run on April 11.

You need no special skill or long practice sessions to perfect walking – just a good pair of walking shoes. Even better, it can help you manage weight and stress, lower your blood pressure, and reduce the risk of stroke, diabetes, heart disease and certain forms of cancer.

For more information contact Elayne Barber at purple@austinfit.com.

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Follow Fit City on Instagram at @FitCityAustin and on Twitter at @FitCityLeBlanc.

Like your run with a side of French toast? Join bRUNch Running

brunch

BRUNch Running, a group that combines two of the necessities of life – running and eating – has unveiled its calendar for the next few weeks, and let’s just say it involves doughnuts, bacon, waffles, fried chicken and mimosas.

For $25, you get a group run and brunch (including two drinks).
For $25, you get a group run and brunch (including two drinks).

Here’s how it works: For $25 you get a group run, entree, two drinks, tax and gratuity. A dollar from each ticket sold is donated to The Trail Foundation. Buy your tickets at http://www.brunchrunning.com/austin.

Here’s the lineup, straight from bRUNch:

  • Feb. 22 – Gourdough’s Public House, 2700 South Lamar Boulevard. Three words: Big. Fat. Donuts. Reward yourself after a trek on the Barton Creek Greenbelt with some exceptional, decadent, heavenly carbs. Your glycogen stores will thank you. And then ask you for more.
  • March 1 – The Buzzmill, 1505 Town Creek Drive. Once upon a time, all the way down on Riverside Drive, sat a beautiful log cabin that belonged to a man by the name of Paul Bunyan. Enjoy some plant-based comfort food – and perhaps a bloody Mary or mimosa – after a morning run around Lady Bird Lake.
  • March 8 – Zed’s Restaurant, 501 Canyon Ridge Drive. Let your muscles enjoy the sweet sounds of jazz while your stomach enjoys some hot chicken and waffles with whiskey syrup.
  • March 15 – Mettle, 507 Calles Street, Suite 100. Southern-themed dishes like grits and fried pork belly sandwiches make that run worthwhile.

Lance Armstrong registers to ride in 2015 Livestrong Challenge

Lance Armstrong rides in the 2010 Livestrong Challenge in this file photo by Statesman photographer Deborah Cannon.
Lance Armstrong rides in the 2010 Livestrong Challenge in this file photo by Statesman photographer Deborah Cannon.

Lance Armstrong will ride again – as part of team Lance and Friends at this year’s Livestrong Challenge in October.

Armstrong registered Feb. 2 for the charity bike ride and made a $5,000 donation. The Oct. 18 ride will mark Armstrong’s first participation in a Livestrong event since October 2012.

Lance Armstrong receives a yellow rose after finishing the Livestrong Challenge in 2010. Photo by Deborah Cannon
Lance Armstrong receives a yellow rose after finishing the Livestrong Challenge in 2010. Photo by Deborah Cannon

The charity ride starts and finishes in downtown Austin and raises money for the Livestrong Foundation, which provides services to cancer survivors. Armstrong founded the non-profit organization but was later forced to leave under pressure in November 2012.

He admitted in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey in January 2013 that he used performance-enhancing drugs when he won his seven Tour de France titles. He was stripped of those wins.

“We welcome all contributions to the Livestrong Foundation as we continue our work to improve the lives of people affected by cancer now,” said Ellen Barry, executive vice president of strategic communications. “This includes the recent contribution by Lance Armstrong, as part of his efforts to fundraise for the annual Team Livestrong Austin Challenge. He has signed up to ride in our annual event with his own team as the ride is open to participants nationwide. We look forward to hosting thousands of survivors and advocates as they take to the streets of Austin to support those in need of our services.”

In a statement to The Associated Press, Armstrong said he remains “humbled and proud” of Livestrong.

Registration for the ride is $75, with no minimum fund-raising requirement. For more information go to http://www.teamlivestrong.org.

And don’t forget to follow Fit City on Instagram at @FitCityAustin and on Twitter at @FitCityLeBlanc.

Cap Metro to host workshop for cyclists who use bus, train

Pam LeBlanc loads her bike on the front of a Cap Metro bus in June 2014. Photo by Deborah Cannon of the Austin American-Statesman
Pam LeBlanc loads her bike on the front of a Cap Metro bus in June 2014. Photo by Deborah Cannon of the Austin American-Statesman

Need tips on loading your bike onto a bus or train?

Not sure how to use a bike cage?

Want to share your thoughts about multi-modal commuting?

A cyclist loads his bike into a Cap Metro train in this file photo by Ricardo Brazziell of the Austin American-Statesman.
A cyclist loads his bike into a Cap Metro train in this file photo by Ricardo Brazziell of the Austin American-Statesman.

Cyclists are invited to a Gear Talk workshop hosted by Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority from 5:30 to 8 p.m. March 3 at Cycleast Bike Shop, 1619 East Cesar Chavez Street. (And read my article about taking your bike on the bus and train.)

Participants will learn about the system’s cycling amenities, which include special “boxes” where you can park your bike, how to use bike+transit facilities and share thoughts about future improvements.

For more information go here or email feedback@capmetro.org.

Roberts passes thousands during marathon’s Don’t Beat Ben campaign

 

Ben Roberts, left, with his friend David Bowman, before the start of the Austin Marathon.
Ben Roberts, left, with his friend David Bowman, before the start of the Austin Marathon.

The official tally’s not quite in, but rest assured: Ben Roberts passed a lot of folks during his Don’t Beat Ben campaign at last Sunday’s Austin Marathon.

Roberts started at the back of the pack, waiting 15 minutes after the official start time before he began running. His mission? Pass as many folks as possible. For each marathon runner that he passed, Conley Sports would donate $1 to the Children’s Heart Foundation.

The back of Roberts' shirt identified him as the guy trying to pass as many folks on the course as possible, for charity.
The back of Roberts’ shirt identified him as the guy trying to pass as many folks on the course as possible, for charity.

In case you didn’t notice, quite a lot of people ran the Austin Marathon & Half Marathon presented by Freescale. The crowd was thick until the half marathoners peeled off between miles 10 and 11. Still, Roberts kept his cool.

“I didn’t jump over anything, I just sidestepped people here and there and the cones constantly,” he says. That, though, was mentally taxing, because he had to calculate his route through the runners the entire time.

He got trapped in an inside corner at South First Street and Cesar Chavez, but the neon yellow shirt he wore, emblazoned with the words “Don’t Beat Ben,” helped part the sea of humanity along the way. It was sort of like playing that Frogger video game.

Roberts is used to starting at the front of the pack. He’s a fast runner, with a personal record in the marathon of about 2 hours and 56 minutes. He knew he’d have to run a patient race to avoid falling apart at the end.

“I was afraid of going out too fast, then getting passed by people at the end. I couldn’t have forgiven myself if people were passing me,” he says.

In the end, the race took him 3 hours 10 minutes and 40 seconds – blistering by most runners’ standards, despite the weaving and bobbing.

“I was honored to be asked to do it. It’s such a cool idea,” he says.

Medical director: No IVs at marathon unless medically necessary

IVs will only be given to athletes who are physically dehydrated at the Austin Marathon & Half Marathon. American-Statesman photo
IVs will only be given to athletes who are physically dehydrated at the Austin Marathon & Half Marathon. American-Statesman photo

Austin Marathon & Half Marathon medical personnel will not provide intravenous fluids to athletes unless they are medically necessary.

That from Pierre Filardi, medical director of the race and a longtime runner and triathlete. “Our policy will be that we are not providing this service for those who just want an IV,” Filardi said.

Filardi pointed me to an article in the Chicago Tribune about a company that provides “hydration therapy” to athletes who want to avoid cramping or hitting the wall during a race or help with recovery afterward.

The treatment costs $169. Experts quoted in the article say the infusions are risky, could slow a runner’s pace and create the need to stop at a portable toilet.

Elective IVs have become popular in recent years among runners, triathletes, cyclists and tennis players who say them help them recover more quickly so they can train harder.

Last minute Austin Marathon notes

 

Runners celebrate at the finish of the 2014 Austin Marathon & Half Marathon presented by Freescale. Photo by Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman
Runners celebrate at the finish of the 2014 Austin Marathon & Half Marathon presented by Freescale. Photo by Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman

Running the Austin Marathon or Half Marathon presented by Freescale this Sunday?

Some last minute notes …

Marnie Staehly wins the women's division of the 2014 Austin Marathon. Photo by Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman
Marnie Staehly wins the women’s division of the 2014 Austin Marathon. Photo by Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman
    • Packet pickup is from 2-7 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the race expo at Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road. (Bring $7 if you plan to park there.) There is no race day packet pickup. Bands will perform live at the expo on Friday; speakers are scheduled for Saturday.

Got the jitters? Head to the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue at Auditorium Shores for a pre-race shakeout run with Bart Yasso, chief running officer for Runner’s World Magazine, and Bobby Overton of SPIbelt, at 9 a.m. Saturday.

  • Race director John Conley will go over the marathon and half marathon courses in detail at 11 a.m. Saturday at the expo.
  • Meet the pacers that can help you reach your marathon goal at noon Saturday at the expo.
  • Learn how to check your physiologic state during the race at 1 p.m. at the expo.
  •  Hang out with Bart Yasso, the chief running officer for Runner’s World Magazine, at 2 p.m Saturday at the expo.
  • Miguel Blancarte Jr. went from 344-pound couch potato to 164-pound ultra marathoner. He shares his story at 3 p.m. at the Expo.
  • Austin’s own Dick Beardsley, who raced the famous Duel in the Sun at the 1982 Boston Marathon, speaks at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Expo.
  • Gear check opens at 5:30 a.m. Sunday at Congress Avenue at Sixth Street.
  • The marathon and half marathon start simultaneously at 7 a.m. Sunday at Congress Avenue at Second Street. (The Paramount Break-a-Leg 5K starts at 7 a.m. just up Congress Avenue at 11th Street.
  • The start-line chute will be divided into per-mile pace times. Please line up with the appropriate group to help the race move smoothly.
  • Runners who don’t reach mile 10.8 by 10:15 a.m. will be rerouted to the half marathon course.
  • The half marathon finish line will close at 11 a.m. The marathon finish line will close at 2 p.m.
  • Want to track a runner on the course? Go here.
  • The latest weather forecast shows partly cloudy skies with a low of 49 and high of 69 for marathon day this Sunday. That’s a tad warm, perhaps, but pretty darn good. (Remember the icy streets and stampeding deer of 2006, anyone?)
  • Still waffling? Online is open here. Cost is $140 for the full marathon or $120 for the half.

Gilbert Tuhabonye to race in Austin Marathon this weekend

Gilbert Tuhabonye, shown here in October 2014 carrying a 45-pound jug of water to the Capitol, will compete at this weekend's Austin Marathon.
Gilbert Tuhabonye, shown here in October 2014 carrying a 45-pound jug of water to the Capitol, will compete at this weekend’s Austin Marathon. Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez/Austin American-Statesman

Look for a familiar face on the course at the Austin Marathon this weekend.

Gilbert Tuhabonye, who survived genocide in Africa and now heads the Gilbert’s Gazelles running program in Austin, will compete for the first time as a master when he lines up at the start of the 26.2-mile race.

Tuhabonye, 40, grew up as a fleet-footed son of farmers in Burundi. He ran everywhere — to get the family’s water, to school, and even after the cows and gazelles. In high school, he ran competitively, becoming national champion in the 400 and 800 meters.

When a Hutu mob attacked the school Tuhabonye attended in 1993, he and other Tutsi children and teachers were marched a mile and a half to an abandoned building, forced into a room, tortured and burned. More than 100 people died. Tuhabonye lay for hours under a pile of bodies, finally breaking a window and running into the night.

Tuhabonye eventually moved to Texas and became an All-America runner at Abilene Christian University. He later moved to Austin and started the Gilbert’s Gazelles running group. He also coaches track and cross country at

He last raced a marathon in 2010, when he lost to another local runner, Kiplimo Chemirmir, by about a minute at the finish. Tuhabonye says he put off racing the Austin Marathon again because he was hoping the course, which is notoriously hilly, would change.

“It’s too hard,” he says. “But I’m 40, and that gave me reason to run it.”

The race will be a rematch with Chemirmir, 31, but both athletes acknowledge they’ll be slower this time. That hasn’t stopped them from talking up the duel.

“I’m very thrilled,” Chemirmir says. “He’s been daring me for a while.”

Tuhabonye says he was trying to keep his participation under wraps, but when he ran a 22-miler last month, people got suspicious. His personal record in the marathon is 2 hours, 22 minutes and 7 seconds, set in 2003 at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota.

This year he just hopes to run 3 hours or better. “Part of it is I don’t want any pressure,” he says. “People think about what I used to do, and I’m not there.”

Still, he hopes to inspire the runners in his training group, whom he tell to “run with joy.” He started training seriously in mid-December. “I have a good base, I always run, but when you’re training to run fast 8 weeks is not enough,” he says.

 

 

Kim Gutierrez finishes 3M Half Marathon with ruptured appendix

Kim Gutierrez, 50, finished the 3M Half Marathon despite a ruptured appendix.
Kim Gutierrez, 50, finished the 3M Half Marathon despite a ruptured appendix.

If the 3M Half Marathon had a category for athletes running with a ruptured appendix, Kim Gutierrez would have won.

Gutierrez, 50, a member of the Austin Jeff Galloway Runners group, woke up at 1 a.m. the morning of the Jan. 25 race, writhing in pain. Instead of scratching from the event, though, she reported to the start line, determined to run. She was midway through the Austin Distance Challenge, after all. (Runners, please do not try this at home.)

“I really will not let anything stop me. I ran on a torn meniscus for 13 months before I got it fixed,” she says.

Gutierrez had an understandably miserable race, walking at every aid station but unable to get any water down. When she finished, in 2 hours and 1 minute, she suddenly found herself laid out on the ground with cramping calf muscles. Friends from her Austin Jeff Galloway Runners group arranged a ride home.

Doctors initially suspected she had a stomach virus, but when it didn’t clear up in a few days they did more tests and found that her appendix had ruptured. She was checked into a hospital. Now she’s on hold, taking antibiotics and waiting for the infection to clear up before they can remove the offending organ.

“The more I think about it, the more I realize just how lucky I am,” says the office manager for Neogenis. “My body has learned to protect itself; it knows how I abuse it.”

Gutierrez, who teaches fitness classes at the YMCA and competes in triathlons, has struggled with the forced time off. She had planned to cap off her Distance Challenge at the Austin Marathon this weekend.

“It’s killing me not to be able to do any of the stuff I normally do,” she says.

We’re just happy she’s here to complain about it.