REI campaign ends, Violet Crown Trail nets $74,215

The first section of the Violet Crown Trail was officially unveiled this weekend. Photo by Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman
The first section of the Violet Crown Trail was officially unveiled this weekend. Photo by Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman

Well done, Austin.

The REI Every Trail Counts campaign hit its funding cap less than three days after it began, and Austin’s Violet Crown Trail netted just under $75,000.

The competition featured 10 trails around the country. The public was asked to vote online for its favorite trail. For each vote received, REI donated $5 to that trail – with a cap of $75,000 per trail and $500,000 total.

The Violet Crown Trail received 14,843 votes – worth $74,215. That’s just a tad shy of the maximum it could have received.

Only two trails – the Mount Columbia Summit Trail in Colorado and the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota – did better, collecting 15,000 votes each and the maximum $75,000 donation from REI. Other trails earned between $18,400 and $66,145.

For more information go here.

Zilker Relays set for Sept. 11

Team Statesman will race once again at the Zilker Relays on Sept. 11. Photo by Chris LeBlanc
Team Statesman will race once again at the Zilker Relays on Sept. 11. Photo by Chris LeBlanc

The relay-running, brew-sipping, taco-gobbling kickoff to the fall running season is almost here.

The 13th edition of the Zilker Relays, a grassroots race with an old school feel, will unfold at Zilker Park on Sept. 11.

Paul Perrone dreamed up the event while drinking beer with buddies at the Mean-Eyed Cat. He wanted to create a short-distance, end-of-the-summer fling that the Austin running community would embrace. The rest is sweaty, beer- and taco-soaked history.

Teams of four compete at the Zilker Relays, set for Sept. 11.
Teams of four compete at the Zilker Relays, set for Sept. 11.

“The goal was to make it a fun community event that anybody could participate in,” Perrone says. “They can run it really fast or walk the course.”

Teams of four will compete, with each runner making a single lap on the 2.5-mile course. Look for me. I’ll be out there again this year with the Austin American-Statesman team.

Perrone says he loves the race because it’s the first time the Austin running community gathers after a long, hot summer of training. You can find him among the crowd. Last year he ran on a team that included his two nephews, plus a kid in a hotdog costume.

If history holds, expect wacky weather. Last year’s races started out warm and muggy, then the deluge hit. Conditions changed for every leg of the race.

This year’s course is the same as last, but it will be run in reverse direction to make it easier logistically, Perrone says.

A portion of proceeds will benefit the Ghisallo Cycling Initiative and the Texas Cyclocross Project. Both organizations promote cycling as transportation and recreation among Austin’s youth.

The SpaceRockers will perform at the after party, which will feature food by Taco Deli.

To register or for more information, go here. http://www.zilkerrelays.com Entry fee is $45 per person (increasing to $50 in coming weeks.)

Vote early, often for Violet Crown Trail in REI campaign

Hill Country Conservancy Executive Director George Cofer hikes on the Violet Crown Trail near Brodie Lane and 290 West on Wednesday July 29, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Hill Country Conservancy Executive Director George Cofer hikes on the Violet Crown Trail near Brodie Lane and 290 West on Wednesday July 29, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Vote early, and vote often.

That’s the message from supporters of the Violet Crown Trail, a trail that will ultimately span 30 miles from downtown Austin to Hays County. The first segment of the trail – a 6-mile stretch from Barton Springs to Sunset Valley – officially opens today.

Violet Crown Trail trail head near Brodie Lane and 290 West on Wednesday July 29, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Violet Crown Trail trail head near Brodie Lane and 290 West on Wednesday July 29, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The trail has been selected as one of 10 featured trails in REI’s Every Trail Connects Campaign. That means the project will receive $5 from REI for each vote it receives in the online campaign, until it hits a $75,000 maximum or all 10 trails receive a combined total of $500,000 in votes, whichever comes first.

To vote for the Violet Crown Trail, go here.

The funds will go quickly, so vote early. Anyone can vote for free – once a day, per device.

It’s not the first monetary boost that REI has provided to the Hill Country Conservancy, which is spearheading work on the trail. The outdoor equipment company has provided the conservancy with an annual grant for many years, and recently awarded a $25,000 donation to support work on the trail in 2015.

On Aug. 22, REI will host a series of free classes for hikers, cyclists and runners who want to explore the new section of trail with a guide.

  • Register for 8 a.m. classes here.
  • Register for 9 a.m. classes here.
  • Register for 10 a.m. classes here.

Breakfast, Bikes and New Member Love with Bike Austin

Bike Austin will hold a Breakfast, Bikes and New Member Love event on Aug. 21. Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Bike Austin will hold a Breakfast, Bikes and New Member Love event on Aug. 21. Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Heads up, cyclists.

If you’ve ever wondered about the benefits of a Bike Austin membership, drop by Mellow Johnny’s, 400 Nueces Street, between 7:30 and 9 a.m. Friday, Aug. 21, for the Breakfast, Bikes and New Member Love event.

Bike Austin members will be on hand to explain what a membership in the non-profit organization gets you (discounts at more than a dozen bike shopes, and a free HOPE bag, for example). You can also enjoy some free coffee from Juan Pelota.

Current members who bring a friend to join will get a free gift card to Mellow Johnny’s. For more information, contact Miller at miller@bikeaustin.org.

Each month, Bike Austin hosts a quick discussion on how to make Austin a safer place to ride and walk, followed by an evening social ride around the city. This month’s Moonlight Serenade Social Ride, dubbed “Farewell to the Bats,” will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28. Meet at Alta’s Cafe, 74 Trinity Street.

The rides typically stop by several music venues and wrap up with drinks and food.

Blind triathlete Patricia Walsh races again Sunday

Patricia Walsh, poses for a portrait before swim practice in this file photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman.
Patricia Walsh, poses for a portrait before swim practice in this file photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman.

Blind Austin triathlete Patricia Walsh continues her racing tour this weekend, at the Detroit ITU World Paratriathlon Event at Belle Isle State Park.

She’ll be among a field of 60 paratriathletes from the United States and 10 other nations who will race on a standard sprint-distance course, with a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run.

Paratriathlon is making its debut in the Paralympic Games. Walsh competes in the PT5 category, for athletes with visual impairment.

She has already earned a provisional spot on the U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team, based on her finish at the ITU World Paratriathlon Event held on Aug. 1 in Rio de Janeiro. The first team quota spots will be confirmed on Sept. 18 in Chicago during the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships.

For more information, go here.

ESPN documentary featuring Iram Leon to air on KVUE this Saturday

Iram Leon and his daughter, Kiana, pose in front of the "I Love You" mural on South Congress Avenue. Family photo.
Iram Leon and his daughter, Kiana, pose in front of the “I Love You” mural on South Congress Avenue. Family photo.

If you missed the episode of “E:60” featuring Austin runner and brain cancer survivor Iram Leon that aired on ESPN last week, set the recorder for Saturday.

Brain cancer survivor Iram Leon, left, and his daughter, Kiana. Ashley Landis for American-Statesman
Brain cancer survivor Iram Leon, left, and his daughter, Kiana.
Ashley Landis for American-Statesman

The program will air at 4 p.m. Saturday on KVUE. It will also be online at ESPN on 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.

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

Today Leon is a single father and primary caregiver to his daughter Kiana, now 8.

He’s also an amazing runner. He 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.

“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 on the documentary.

Iram and Kiana Leon by Josh Baker of AzulOx Visuals
Iram and Kiana Leon by Josh Baker of AzulOx Visuals

You can catch Leon in person on Sept. 13, when he’ll race the fifth annual Brain Power 5K at the Cedar Park Center. As part of a fundraiser 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.

Expect him to pass plenty.

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

Marathon Kids announces Nike partnership, program changes

School children participate in the finishers ceremony for Marathon Kids at the University of Texas  in this file photo by Austin American Statesman photographer Rodolfo Gonzalez.
School children participate in the finishers ceremony for Marathon Kids at the University of Texas in this file photo by Austin American Statesman photographer Rodolfo Gonzalez.

Marathon Kids has announced a two-year, $4-million partnership with sports gear giant Nike.

Nike will provide marketing and communications support for the Austin-grown non-profit, which has encouraged elementary-aged children to run since it was created in 1995. It will also supply incentives, in the form of T-shirts, shoe laces, shoe tags and a bracelet for kids who reach milestones in the program.

Kids will be encouraged to run farther, too. Instead of shepherding participants as they run a single, incremental marathon, a quarter of a mile at a time, during a school year, kids will be encouraged to run up to four marathons. That change is based on mandates that show kids should get 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day, said Christine Pollei, executive director of Marathon Kids.

Other changes? The program, now offered in Austin, Houston, Dallas, El Paso, Rio Grande Valley, Baltimore and Los Angeles, plus seven small Texas towns, will expand to 15 additional cities including Chicago, New York City and Miami in the coming year.

More coming …

ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot art contest deadline is Sept. 15

Deadline to submit artwork for the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot art contest is Sept. 15.
Deadline to submit artwork for the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot art contest is Sept. 15.

Want your artwork on this year’s ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot T-shirt?

The deadline to enter the 2015 ThunderCloud Subs Art Contest is Sept. 15. The winner will be announced Sept. 22.

Each year, folks from all over Central Texas, from middle school students to professional graphic designers, contribute artwork for the contest. The winner’s work is featured on T-shirts, event guides, posters, websites and social media for the race. He also gets gift certificates for 365 free sub sandwiches.

This year’s race is special – 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the Austin born sub shop, and the footrace, held each Thanksgiving Day, will be the 25th. In that time, it’s raised more than $2.5 million for Caritas of Austin, a local charity that supports Central Texas’ working poor and homeless.

“In the last 25 years, the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot has grown from 600 runners to the second largest Thanksgiving Day run in Texas, with more than 20,000 participants each year,” says Mike Haggerty, race director and co-owner of ThunderCloud Subs.

For the past three years, registration has hovered around 21,000 runners. The 2015 goal is to register 25,000 people in honor of the race’s 25th anniversary.

All proceeds from the Trot go to Caritas of Austin.

Early online registration for the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot is $20 for the untimed 5-mile, $25 for the timed 5-mile, $18 for the 1-mile walk, and $8 for the Stepping Stone School Kids’ K. All registrations include one of the famous Turkey Trot T-shirts. Registration prices will increase starting Nov. 1.

For official art contest rules, race registration, and more information, go here.

Lance Armstrong’s store Mellow Johnny’s makes list of country’s best bike shops

Lance Armstrong's bike shop Mellow Johnny's made a list of the country's 50 best bike shops. File photo by Ralph Barrera/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Lance Armstrong’s bike shop Mellow Johnny’s made a list of the country’s 50 best bike shops. File photo by Ralph Barrera/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

An Austin bike shop made The Active Times’ list of 50 Best Bike Shops in America.

Mellow Johnny’s, the bike shop co-founded by disgraced Tour de France cyclist Lance Armstrong, came in at Number 23 on the list, which celebrates independent shops. It was the only Texas shop included.

File photo by Ralph Barrera/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
File photo by Ralph Barrera/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

According to a press release from The Active Times, experts in the field nominated bike shops. Readers then voted for their favorites from the list of nominees. More than 2,525 voters participated.

“We’re honoring the shops that help us reach our full riding potential and keep us cycling to our heart’s content,” said Diana Gerstacker, editor of The Active Times. “Life-long cyclists, triathletes and beginner riders alike flock to local bike shops for personalization, expertise and quality gear. Big box stores simply can’t offer the experience that you’ll find at local cycling havens.”

Here’s the complete list …

1. Fit Werx, Waitsfield, Vermont

2. Roswell Bicycles, Roswell, Georgia

3. First Flight Bicycles, Statesville, North Carolina

4. CamRock Café & Sport, Cambridge, Wisconsin

5. The Pedal House, Laramie, Wyoming

6. Island Triathlon & Bike, Honolulu, Hawaii

7. Bike & Bean, Sedona, Arizona

8. The Hub & Pisgah Tavern, Brevard, North Carolina

9. Fair Wheel Bikes, Tucson, Arizona

10. Freeze Thaw Cycles, State College, Pennsylvania

11. Angry Catfish, Minneapolis, Minnesota

12. (Tie) Motion Makers Bicycle Shop, Asheville, North Carolina

12. (Tie) Bicycle Michael’s, New Orleans, Louisiana

14. Las Vegas Cyclery, Las Vegas, Nevada

15. Free-Flite Bicycles, Marietta, Georgia

16. Over the Edge Sports, Fruita, Colorado

17. Big Poppi Bicycle Company, Manhattan, Kansas

18. Belmont Wheelworks, Belmont, Massachusetts

19. Absolute Bikes, Salida, Colorado

20. Blue Ridge Cyclery, Charlottesville, Virginia

21. Paradise Garage, Columbus, Ohio

22. Bikes and Life, John’s Creek, Georgia

23. Mellow Johnny’s, Austin, Texas

24. Bicycle Pedaler, Wichita, Kansas

25. Poison Spider Bicycles, Moab, Utah

26. Mc Cully Bicycle, Honolulu, Hawaii

27. Velo Cult, Portland, Oregon

28. (tie) Bicycle Habitat, New York, New York

28. (tie) Old Spokes Home, Burlington, Vermont

30. Monkey Wrench Cycles, Lincoln, Nebraska

31. One on One Bicycle Studio, Minneapolis, Minnesota

32. Wheat Ridge Cyclery, Wheat Ridge, Colorado

33. River City Bicycles, Portland, Oregon

34. East Burke Sports, East Burke, Vermont

35. Beacon Cycling, Northfield, New Jersey

36. NYC Velo, New York, New York

37. Solon Bicycle, Solon, Ohio

38. (Tie) Lee’s Cyclery, Fort Collins, Colorado

38. (Tie) Vecchio’s Bicicletteria, Boulder, Colorado

40. The Hub Bike Co-op, Minneapolis, Minnesota

41. R&A Cycles, Brooklyn, New York

42. Ride Studio Café, Lexington, Massachusetts

43. Shenandoah Bicycle Company, Harrisonburg, Virginia

44. Sunnyside, Fresno, California

45. Alpha Bikes, Alpharetta, Georgia

46. Speedway Cycles, Anchorage, Alaska

47. Wheel and Sprocket, Hales Corner, Wisconsin

48. Goodale’s Bike Shop Inc., Concord, New Hampshire

49. Hub Bicycle Company, Cambridge, Massachusetts

50. Parvilla Cycle & Multisport, Edgewater, Maryland

Memorial ride planned Saturday for bicyclist Brian Silva

This from Please Be Kind to Cyclists …

Memorial to honor teenager killed in auto/bike crash

AUSTIN, Texas – A memorial to honor Brian Silva will take place Saturday, August 8, 2015 at 10 a.m. Brian was killed on June 6, 2015 after a crash with a motor vehicle, he would have turned 17 this week. The memorial ride will begin at Jordan Elementary School and end with a ghost bike placement at 6200 Johnny Morris Road, near the site of the collision.

Brian was hit and killed while riding his bike in District 1; Christopher Hutchins, Policy Aide to Council Member Ora Houston, District 1, will join the ride on Saturday.

From January through June of this year, there have been 86 reported bike/auto crashes in Austin. Brian was the second person on a bicycle hit and killed in Travis County in 2015, the first was Thomas Wilkinson who was hit and killed in April while riding on Lost Creek Blvd. Austin is on track to double the number of traffic fatalities which totaled to 63. As of this week that number for 2015 has already reached 65.

“[translated] My son Brian has left us,” said Brain’s mother, Diana Guerrero. “But through his love and happiness, he will continue to live in our hearts for all of eternity.”

At the request of the family, local non-profit Please BE KIND to Cyclists (Please BE KIND) is donating the ghost bike and organizing the ride.

“Brian had a full life ahead of him and it was taken away while he was riding his bike the way we all did as kids.” said Please BE KIND Executive Director Al Bastidas. “These tragedies are preventable and we, as drivers, need to do everything in our power to stop them.”

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For more information about the memorial ride and ghost bike placement, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/864822556947940/

Please BE KIND to Cyclists | 805 W. 10th Suite 300 Austin, TX 78701 | 512-716-8955 | bekindtocyclists.org