Athletes raise money for blood cancer research through Team in Training

Team in Training raises money for blood cancer research. Photo courtesy Team in Training
Team in Training raises money for blood cancer research. Photo courtesy Team in Training

Looking for a training program that’ll help people with blood cancer at the same time it gets you ready for an endurance event?

An informational brunch is planned for Saturday. Photo courtesy Team in Training.
An informational brunch is planned for Saturday. Photo courtesy Team in Training.

Team in Training, a non-profit organization that raises money for leukemia research, is recruiting for the upcoming winter season.

On this year’s agenda? Rock N’ Roll San Antonio Marathon and the Walt Disney World Marathon and Half Marathon (including the Goofy and Dopey Challenge).

Participants raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Eighty percent of the money they raise goes directly to fund grants and patient services. The remaining 20 percent covers event costs for participants, including race registration, lodging, jerseys and a pre-race meal, says Caroline Coblar, campaign manager for the Team In Training program at the South Central Texas Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Informational sessions, which include fun runs, happy hours and brunches, are free and open to the public. The next events are scheduled for:

  • 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 1 Wright Brothers Brew and Brew, 500 San Marcos Street.
  • 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5 at Punch Bowl Social, 11310 Domain Drive.

For more information go here.

Austin runner Iram Leon, who has brain cancer, to appear on episode of ESPN’s E:60 next week

Iram Leon with his daughter Kiana. Leon, who has brain cancer, won a marathon while pushing Kiana in a stroller.
Iram Leon with his daughter Kiana. Leon, who has brain cancer, won a marathon while pushing Kiana in a stroller.

A documentary about Austin runner Iram Leon, a brain cancer survivor who won a marathon while pushing his daughter in a stroller, will air on ESPN next week.

The program, an episode of the series E:60, is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4. Watch the trailer here. (A longer version will premier online Aug. 25.)

Leon was diagnosed with brain cancer in November 2010, after collapsing at a birthday party. A marble-sized tumor is entwined in the memory and language hub of his brain and has invisible “tentacles” that even doctors can’t detect. The average survival time for the disease is four years; only a third of patients live five years after diagnosis.

Iram Leon has inoperable brain cancer. He'll be featured on an episode of ESPN's 'E:60' on Aug. 4.
Iram Leon has inoperable brain cancer. He’ll be featured on an episode of ESPN’s ‘E:60’ on Aug. 4. Photo by Rudolfo Gonzalez/Austin American-Statesman

Doctors have told Leon, who will turn 35 next Saturday, they’re just hoping he sees his 40th birthday. His most recent MRI, in June, showed that his tumors are still stable.

After his diagnosis, Leon’s marriage fell apart. Running, he says, held him together. Today he’s the primary caregiver to his daughter Kiana, now 8.

“There’s two questions I ask: Can I keep running, and am I still fit to raise a kid. Because one’s how I get through a day, the other is why,” he says.

Leon won the Gusher Marathon in Beaumont in March 2013 – outright – while pushing his daughter in a stroller. Since then he’s won or placed at the top of other 5K, 10K and half marathons. In April he ran the 2015 Boston Marathon.

Here’s a link to an article I wrote about Leon in 2013.

Crews started working on the ESPN program shortly after he won The Gusher in 2013, making multiple visits to Austin to film him racing, visiting his doctors and interacting with his daughter.

He says he’s not planning to watch the show – “I was there, I know what happened” – but he hopes viewers get one simple message from his story.

“Get the basics before anything goes wrong,” he says. “Make good memories with people you love. Put one foot in front of the other. Hang out with your kid. These are the things you’re supposed to do.”

Leon recently returned from a five-day climbing and camping trip in New Hampshire with the organization First Descents, which provides climbing adventures for people with cancer. He’ll celebrate his birthday Aug. 8 by competing in a Spartan obstacle race in Portland, Oregon, with his brother and several cousins. Kiana will be compete in a kid’s version of the race, too.

“That’s how we party,” he says.

Then, on Sept. 13, he’ll race the fifth annual Brain Power 5K at the Cedar Park Center. As part of a fund-raiser dubbed “Let Iram Run By ‘Em,” that will benefit brain cancer research and brain cancer patients, he’ll start in last place at the run. Donors will contribute money based on how many runners he passes.

For more information about the race or to register, go here.

Free clinic in Round Rock will focus on how to prevent sports injuries

Hutto High School wide receiver Davion Davis prepares to go back onto the field after having his ankle wrapped during a practice at the school in this 2014 file photo. Andy Sharp / For the American-Statesman.
Hutto High School wide receiver Davion Davis prepares to go back onto the field after having his ankle wrapped during a practice at the school in this 2014 file photo. Andy Sharp / For the American-Statesman.

Want your student athlete to stay injury free this season?

Baylor Scott & White Health will host a free community seminar, titled Sports Injuries 101, at 2 p.m. Aug. 6 at Round Rock Public Library, 216 E. Main Street in Round Rock.

Physical therapist Andy McDonnell will discuss common sports injuries, what parents and student athletes can do to avoid them, and fundamentals of staying healthy on and off the field.

This free workshop is intended for parents of athletes ages 6 and up.

Blind triathlete Patricia Walsh competes at World Paratriathlon event in Rio de Janeiro Saturday

Patricia Walsh, poses for a portrait before swim practice held at the Lost Creek Country Club pool in Austin in 2012.  Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman
Patricia Walsh, poses for a portrait before swim practice held at the Lost Creek Country Club pool in Austin in 2012. Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman

Austin paratriathlete Patricia Walsh will compete Saturday in the 2015 ITU World Paratriathlon event in Rio de Janeiro.

Patricia Walsh, left, and guide, Angie Balentine, right, celebrate Walsh's win during US Paratriathlon National Championship and Texas Captial Triathlon held in Austin on May 28, 2012.  Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman
Patricia Walsh, left, and guide, Angie Balentine, right, celebrate Walsh’s win during US Paratriathlon National Championship and Texas Captial Triathlon held in Austin on May 28, 2012. Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman

Walsh, who is blind, will swim 750 meters, bike 20 kilometers and run 5 kilometers on the proposed course for next year’s Paralympic Games. She’ll compete alongside a guide, who will lead her through the water, steer her bike and run at her side.

Races will take place throughout the day Saturday at Copacabana Beach. No live broadcast will be available, but live timing updates will be posted here, and U.S.-specific live updates will be shared on Twitter.

The points season just opened for paratriathletes, and the event is the second opportunity for paratriathletes to earn points toward the Paralympic qualification process. Only one U.S. paratriathlete per sport class will be eligible to qualify for the U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team in Rio.

The sport will make its Paralympic Games debut next September in Rio de Janeiro, and athletes racing this weekend will have the advantage of testing the course as they compete for qualification points and a potential spot on the U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team.

Walsh is among 10 American paratriathletes who will be racing in Saturday’s test event. She is a two-time ITU World Championships medalist and two-time World Paratriathlon Event champion. She competes in the women’s PT5 (visually impaired) sport class.

For more information about each sport class and world rankings go here.

Paralyzed triathlete Laurie Allen hits the court for tennis lesson

Laurie Allen, left, practices her tennis swing with coach Mike Carter on Sunday at Jester Club. Pam LeBlanc/Austin American-Statesman
Laurie Allen, left, practices her tennis swing with coach Mike Carter on Sunday at Jester Club. Pam LeBlanc/Austin American-Statesman

Five months after she was paralyzed in a fall, Austin triathlete Laurie Allen took to the court Sunday for a tennis lesson.

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Matt Allen, left, plays ball boy while his wife Laurie perfects her forehand. PAM LeBLANC/Austin American-Statesman

Using strap-on hand grips to help her hold a short-handled racquet, Allen spent about two hours practicing her forehand and backhand under the tutelage of Mike Carter, director of community development for the United States Tennis Association’s Texas branch.

“This is awesome. Who knew tennis was so much fun?” Allen said midway through the session at Jester Club.

Allen and Carter met while training for triathlons a decade ago. Carter has worked with other athletes who use wheelchairs, teaching them to play doubles tennis alongside fully-abled athletes.

“We pretty much try to put a racquet in everyone’s hands, whether they can grip it or not,” he said.

Carter showed up with a bright yellow inflatable tennis ball bigger than a basketball. “We’re going to make sure you hit some tennis balls,” he joked.

Mike Carter, left, poses with Laurie Allen, right, and a giant yellow tennis ball at Jester Club on Sunday. Photo by PAM LeBLANC/Austin American-Statesman
Mike Carter, left, poses with Laurie Allen, right, and a giant yellow tennis ball at Jester Club on Sunday. Photo by PAM LeBLANC/Austin American-Statesman

“All right, we have arrived on the court,” Allen said when she and her husband Matt arrived. “I can’t believe we’re doing this.”

Allen fell off an icy deck at a friend’s house in February, severely injuring her spine. She has use of her biceps but not her triceps, and can’t use her legs, trunk or most of her fingers. She’s been gaining a little bit of function, though, and heads back to St. David’s Rehabilitation hospital later this summer for a few more weeks of in-patient rehab.

Allen, who celebrated her 45th birthday last week, has been an athlete all her life – a high school swimmer, then a ballet dancer before injuring her Achilles tendon. In recent years she focused on triathlon, completing nine Ironmans, nine half Ironmans and dozens more endurance races.

She returned to work at a software company shortly after the accident, and is now working full-time from home.

Adjusting to her new post-accident life, though, has been challenging, especially for someone used to a life packed with swimming, bicycling and running.

“I’m not progressing as fast as I think I should be,” she said Sunday. “I’m used to that athlete mentality.”

Next on Allen’s agenda comes more in-patient rehabilitation and then, if she can master a few more skills, a license to drive a specially-adapted car.

Laurie Allen, left, and Mike Carter spent Sunday morning playing tennis. PAM LeBLANC/Austin American-Statesman
Laurie Allen, left, and Mike Carter spent Sunday morning playing tennis. PAM LeBLANC/Austin American-Statesman

At the tennis court, the lesson started with Carter sliding a tennis ball attached to a guide wire toward her while she practiced swinging at it. When she mastered that, he began slowly pitching a ball at her. Eventually, they each took a side of the net, and lobbed the ball back and forth. Their goal was to get four hits in a row; they made five.

They stopped periodically so Matt Allen could spray her with water. Like many quadriplegics, she’s mostly lost the ability to sweat, so it’s important to keep her cool.

Before the lesson ended, Laurie Allen made a few serves across the net. She also won praise for her new-found skills.

“I am so excited about your backhand,” Carter told her. “And your swing is awesome.”

“Apparently I play tennis better than I mountain bike,” she said.

Registration open for Schlotzsky’s Bun Run on Sept. 27

Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman  The elite group of runners take off on the First Street bridge during the Schlotzsky's 5K Bun Run on Sunday, April 25, 2004.
Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman The elite group of runners take off on the First Street bridge during the Schlotzsky’s 5K Bun Run on Sunday, April 25, 2004.

So, honestly, how would you rate your buns?

Registration is open for the 33rd annual Schlotzsky’s Bun Run, where the top male and female winners collect cash prizes and teams can earn honors for Austin’s Fittest Buns, Austin’s Fastest Buns, Austin’s Best Lookin’ Buns and Austin’s Most Generous Buns.

This year’s race is scheduled for Sept. 27, and besides the timed 5K run, the event includes a Kids K race for children 12 and under. Dogs can even run alongside their owners to compete for the title of Fastest Dog in Austin.

The kids race starts at 8 a.m. and the 5K starts at 8:30 a.m. on Century Oaks Terrace in the Domain shopping center. Race organizers describe the course as flat and fast.

Participants get chips, hot sauce and goodie bags.

To register, go here.

Proceeds benefit JDRF, formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which works to improve lives and find a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Since 2012, Schlotzsky’s has raised more than $500,000 for JDRF.

‘Bike Wars’ looks at friction between cyclists, motorists

If you ride a bike to work in Austin, you’re probably familiar with the friction between motorists and cyclists.

Bryant Gumbel looks at the growing conflict between motorists and cyclists in "Bike Wars," an episode of Real Sports. Photo courtesy HBO
Bryant Gumbel looks at the growing conflict between motorists and cyclists in “Bike Wars,” an episode of Real Sports. Photo courtesy HBO

HBO highlights the issue in its latest episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, titled “Bike Wars.” In the episode, Gumbel looks at cities like New York and San Francisco, as they struggle to adapt to growing numbers of commuter cyclists. He also travels to bike-crazy Copenhagen and Amsterdam to seee how European cities have handled it.

The program contains clips of motorists yelling at cyclists, cyclists getting struck by cars, and an interview with a national cycling champion and bike law attorney who describes classes she offers to law enforcement officers.

Here’s a look at part of that interview with Megan Hottman.

The number of people commuting by bicycle in the United States has grown by 60 percent in the past decade, according to a press release from HBO, and casual bike riders, commuters, messengers and cycling teams all share the streets with motor vehicles. The increased bike use has been good for the environment and personal fitness, but has also created tension and confusion, sometimes with deadly consequences, it says.

The program, originally shown earlier this week, will re-air on HBO at 9:15 a.m. Friday, 12:15 a.m. Saturday, 11:30 a.m. Sunday, 8 p.m. Monday, 6:30 p.m. July 29, 9 a.m. Aug. 1, 4 a.m. Aug 6 and 4:45 p.m. Aug. 7. It will also air on HBO2 at 1:30 and 11:30 p.m. tonight; 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. July 31, 2:45 p.m. Aug. 2, 6:45 p.m. and 3 a.m. Aug. 11; and 6:30 a.m. Aug. 16. It’s also available on HBO On Demand.

Relentless Boot Camp offers free public workouts

Relentless Bootcamps offers free public workouts a month. Photo courtesy Relentless Bootcamps
Relentless Bootcamps offers free public workouts a month. Photo courtesy Relentless Bootcamps

Who said fitness costs a lot?

Every week I get emails about free group workouts taking place around Austin. The latest came from Relentless Boot Camp, which hosts two free public workouts a month.

Relentless Boot Camp, powered by CrossFit Central, operates more than 20 boot camps around Austin, including corporate wellness programs. Jeremy Thiel and Carey Kepler founded the program in 2005.

Here’s what they’ve got coming up …

  • Work Hard Play Hard takes place the first Thursday of every month. Thirty-minute bootcamps and ab sessions are scheduled for 6-6:30 p.m. Aug. 6, Sept. 3, Oct. 1, Nov. 5 and Dec. 3 at Palm Park, 601 East Third Street. Afterward, join the group for drinks and food in the Rainey Street distrct. For more information go here. http://relentlessbootcamp.com/work-hard-play-hard/
  • Free community workouts take place at 8:30 a.m. Saturday mornings under the Loop 1 (Mopac Boulevard) bridge on Lady Bird Lake. Sessions are scheduled for Aug. 22, Sept. 19, Oct. 17, Nov. 21 and Dec. 12.

Overweight patients with arrhythmia needed for exercise study at St. David’s

St. David’s Medical Center is looking for participants for a new study conducted by physicians and researchers at the hospital’s Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute.

To be considered, patients must be overweight or obese and scheduled to undergo a catheter ablation procedure at St. David’s to treat atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat.

The Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute will follow the patients for a year to see how weight loss impacts the outcome of the atrial ablation procedure.

The research is Institutional Review Board approved, and the physicians are Dr. Sanghmitra Mohanty and Dr. Andrea Natale. Fifty people are needed.

Patients will be randomly assigned to study and control groups. Study group patients will receive free individual counseling sessions with a dietitian and supervised exercise sessions three times a week. After 36 sessions, they will receive a personalized home exercise plan to continue on their own. They will be expected to continue the diet and exercise intervention for one year and should be available to return phone calls and emails regarding their compliance and progress. Those in the control group will be given general lifestyle advice only. So far about 10 people have signed up for the study. There is no deadline to enroll. “So far the weight-loss plan is working very well for all of our enrollees; patients are reporting substantial improvement in quality of life,” Mohanty says. To inquire about enrolling in the study, contact Tamara Metz (512-544-8176, tamara.metz@stdavids.com) or Mitra Mohanty (512-544-8198, mitra.mohanty@stdavids.com).

Gazelle Foundation donations to build water systems in Burundi surpass $1 million

Gilbert Tuhabonye, shown during his 2012 trip to his homeland of Burundi.  Photo courtesy The Gazelle Foundation
Gilbert Tuhabonye, shown during his 2012 trip to his homeland of Burundi. Photo courtesy The Gazelle Foundation

As Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies would say, “One million dollars!”

That’s how much the Austin-based, non-profit Gazelle Foundation has raised to build pipelines that provide clean, accessible drinking water to people in Burundi, Africa.

Claudine Kanyamuneza, 10, used to walk 1.5 miles to get water before the Gazelle Foundation built a water system near where she lives in Burundi.  Photo by Lynne Dobson, 2011
Claudine Kanyamuneza, 10, used to walk 1.5 miles to get water before the Gazelle Foundation built a water system near where she lives in Burundi. Photo by Lynne Dobson, 2011

Local drum-beating, run-with-joy-shouting coach Gilbert Tuhabonye founded the non-profit foundation in 2006. In 2009, the orgniazation built its first water system, for 1,500 villagers in the country, which is sandwiched between Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Burundi was mired in civil war from 1993 to 2008, and Tuhabonye is a survivor of the genocide there. According to World Bank statistics, the country ranks as the second poorest country in the world, behind Congo.

“This is an exciting day and a monumental achievement, thanks to the generosity of thousands of Austinites,” said Tuhabonye, chairman of the board of the foundation. “Without the community support at Run for the Water, Spring for the Water, Walk for the Water and countless contributions from individuals and schools throughout Central Texas, we could not have reached this day – and I believe it is only the beginning.”

The Gazelle Foundation is one of only a handful of charities working in Burundi, according to a press release from the organization. The water systems being built there use gravity to carry water from underground natural springs. They require no pumping and little maintenance.

In all, the 24 water delivery systems built by the foundation incorporate more than 70 miles of underground pipes.

This year’s Run for the Water 10-Mile, 5K, Kids K and Global Run event is scheduled for Nov. 1.