NLand Surf Park launches fall kids clinics

NLand surf guide, Kai Henderson, helps her daughter, Sanoa Henderson, 6, stand up on a surf board as they catch a small entry level wave during the Lost Weekend surf event held at NLand Surf Park on Sept. 3, 2017. (Rodolfo Gonzalez for American-Statesman)


Got any groms in the house?

That’s surf-speak for kids, according to the folks at NLand Surf Park, which operates a 14-acre man-made surf lagoon east of Austin.

The park will launch a Saturday kids’ surf clinic, in conjunction with the Boneshaker Project, this weekend. The series, open to kids ages 8 to 13, continues through Oct. 28.

RELATED: At NLand Surf Park, catch a perfect wave every time.

Participants can enroll in up to four 3-hour Saturday clinics. Besides 30 minutes of dry land surf instruction and 50 minutes of coach-led surfing in the lagoon, the program will include activities, games and lunch.

Each weekend, the clinic will spotlight a local Austin athlete or fitness professional who will speak and demonstrate his or her skills. Expect experts in hula hooping, boxing, BMX and more.

RELATED Boneshaker works to condition kids for a lifetime of fitness. 

Surfers who participate more than one Saturday can progress from NLand’s beginner bay wave to the intermediate inside wave.

Cost is $150 for a single Saturday, $250 for two Saturdays, $375 for three Saturdays, and $500 for four Saturdays. To sign up go here.

For more information about the Boneshaker Project, go here.

NLand Surf Park is located at 4836 East Highway 71 in Del Valle.

How did Austin fare on list of top running cities?

Runners make their way along the course of the 2015 Austin Marathon and Half Marathon. (Photo by Stephen Spillman for the Austin American-Statesman)

Austin makes it to the top 10 of another list – and this time it’s all about running. compiled a list of the 10 U.S. cities with the most runners per capita, and Austin checked in at number eight. The company based its rankings on a year’s worth of race registration data.

RELATED: New Austin Marathon course offers more challenges, East Austin segment

Sounds pretty accurate, until you consider that Reno, Nevada, came in first, and Boston doesn’t even make the list. Three Texas cities made the list, and both Houston and San Antonio finished higher than Austin. Huh?

Runners make their way along the course of the 2015 Austin Marathon and Half Marathon. Race organizers have unveiled a new route for the 2018 race. (Stephen Spillman for the Austin American-Statesman)

According to the article, which you can read here, Austin has 1.73 runners per 100 residents. By comparison, the article claims Reno has 16.9 per 100. (And you thought they were just about casinos!)

“The newly renovated Butler Trail takes runners along Town Lake in downtown Austin, providing breathtaking views of the city and waterfront,” it says.

The boardwalk opened in 2014; a revamp of the trail’s crossing beneath Congress Avenue on the north side of the bridge is due to begin soon. Also, we call it Lady Bird Lake these days, not Lake Austin.

They did get a few things right – we’re home to the Austin Marathon (and Half Marathon), the 3M Half Marathon, the Statesman Capitol 10K and countless other 5Ks and 10Ks.

Kathryn Macleod, left, and Doray Lendacky finish the Austin Half Marathon in 2015. (Stephen Spillman for the Austin American-Statesman)


Who else made the list? Here you go …

  • 10. Chicago, 0.4 runners per 100
  • 9. Los Angeles, 0.6 runners per 100
  • 8. Austin, with 1.73 runners per 100
  • 7. San Antonio, 1.75 runners per 100
  • 6. San Jose, Calif., 1.9 runners per 100
  • 5. Houston-The Woodlands, 2 runners per 100
  • 4. San Diego, 3.3 runners per 100
  • 3. Las Vegas, 3.4 runners per 100
  • 2. Cleveland, 3.5 runners per 100
  • 1. Reno-Sparks, Nevada, 16.9 runners per 100.

Is new Austin Marathon course easier? Not so fast, runners say

Runners make their way along the course of the 2015 Austin Marathon and Half Marathon. Race organizers have unveiled a new route for the 2018 race. Stephen Spillman for the Austin American-Statesman


The rolling hills of Exposition Boulevard are out, along with that long, desolate stretch of Great Northern Boulevard. The east side makes a return appearance, too.

But runners of the 2018 Austin Marathon and Half Marathon, which unveiled a new course today, shouldn’t necessarily expect a faster, easier race.

Officials with High Five Events, which puts on the event, say the new route will highlight more Austin landmarks and improve traffic flow.

The first half of the course remains essentially unchanged. After Mile 12, though, as half marathoners peel south to the finish, marathoners continue east, then turn north onto Guadalupe Street. They’ll skirt the western edge of the University of Texas campus, pass the UT Tower and part of the Hyde Park neighborhood, then loop east before returning to Congress Avenue.

Runners participate in the Austin Marathon and Half-marathon presented by NXP. Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

“We like to think it takes out some of the hills, but there are still some, this being Austin,” said William Dyson, communications manager for the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon. “A lot of people have been asking if it’s faster. Ideally, that’s what we want, but we’re also not promoting it as, ‘You’re going to take 20 minutes off last year’s marathon.’ This is the Texas Hill Country and there’s no way to make this a flat and fast course.”

Some runners say the new course holds more challenges than the old one.

Chris McClung, a running coach and co-owner of Rogue Running, recently scouted a variation of the new course. He says the new route will cement Austin’s reputation as a hilly, challenging race.

“Some people will think initially it will be easier because Exposition is gone. But all those tough sections will be replaced by even tougher sections,” McClung said.

McClung, who presents a course briefing on the marathon route for runners each year, says statistics from his Strava mobile tracking app show that the new course has about 300 feet more cumulative elevation gain. The old course featured about 700 feet of gain; the new one has about 1,000, he said.

“They took the hard section of the race, the first half, and kept it, then made back half even harder,” he said. “It’s definitely not faster, and the facts prove it.”

High Five Events worked with the City of Austin Transportation Department and the Capital Metro Transportation Authority to plan the new route. Nothing’s official yet – the new course is awaiting final approval from the City Council, expected in mid-November.

RELATED: Don’t be a heel. Follow these etiquette tips when you run a race.

Last year nearly 3,900 athletes registered for the full marathon; another 8,300 signed up for the half.

This year’s race is set for Feb. 18. It will start and finish a few blocks apart on Congress Avenue, with the Texas State Capitol as a backdrop.

Check Wednesday’s sport section of the Austin American-Statesman for the full story.

Want a say in Austin’s expanding trail system?

George Cofer hikes a stretch of the Violet Crown Trail that opened in August 2015. Photo by Jay Janner / AAS

Want to learn about – and have a say in – new trails that are sprouting across Austin?

You’ve got two opportunities this week.

City officials and contractors will make a presentation about construction of the next segment of the Violet Crown Trail, which ultimately will stretch more than 30 miles from Zilker Park to Hays County, at 5:30 p.m. tonight at the Hampton Branch Library, 5125 Convict Hill Road. This 4,000-foot portion of trail will start south of the library, cross under MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) and continue to the intersection of Convict Hill Road at Brush Country. Maps will be available, and members of the Urban Trails Program and staff from SB Contractors will answer questions.

RELATED: First section of Violet Crown Trail opens to public

The Shoal Creek Trail winds under the West 9th Street bridge in downtown Austin. The Shoal Creek Conservancy and the city of Austin are partnering with community members to create a plan to improve, connect and extend the existing Shoal Creek Trail north past U.S. Hwy 183. RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The second of three public meetings to discuss the Shoal Creek Trail is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, at Congregation Beth Israel, 3901 Shoal Creek Boulevard.

Members of the Shoal Creek Conservancy envision a continuous hike-and-bike trail that unspools from downtown Austin all the way to the Domain shopping, center north of U.S. Highway 183. Plans call for a number of improvements to the trail, which ultimately will span about 13 miles and link to the Northern Walnut Creek Trail, J.J. Pickle Research Campus, and the University of Texas. Community members are invited to learn more, view draft trail routes, and share their input at this Shoal Creek Trail: Vision to Action Plan community workshop.

For more information, go to the Conservancy’s website here or their Facebook page here, or call 512-474-2412.

RELATED: What will Shoal Creek Trail look like in the future?

Show your super powers at CASA Superhero Run on Sept. 17

A couple of years ago, I ran the CASA Superhero Run.

When I signed up, a friend who worked at Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children loaned me a Wonder Woman costume. I donned the outfit for the race, and promptly set a personal record in the 5K.

Superheros gather before the 2016 CASA Superhero Run. This year’s race is set for Sept. 17. Photo by Marshall Tidrick for CASA Superhero Run

Coincidence? I think not.

Proceeds from the run benefit the Court Appointed Special Advocates for children programs. Photo by Marshall Tidrick for CASA

Since then, every time I’ve slipped on that Wonder Woman costume, something amazing has happened. I’ve placed in my age group at the CASA Superhero Run wrapped in its folds of red, white and blue spangled material. I even rappeled down a 38-story building in downtown Austin in it, flapping with fear on the inside but gleaning a little courage from that brave dress.

On Sept. 17, you can join super heroes all over Austin at the CASA Superhero Run 5K and Kids K. Even if you don’t have a Wonder Woman costume, by participating you’re acting as a superhero to kids who have been abused or neglected. Proceeds from the event benefit CASA programs serving Travis, Williamson, Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays counties.

“When the state steps in to protect a child’s safety because the people responsible for protecting them have not, a judge appoints a trained CASA volunteer to make independent and informed recommendations and help the judge decide what’s best for the child,” according to CASA’s website.

This year’s race is set for Sept. 17 at Domain Central Park. Entry fee is $35 for the 5K or $20 for the Kids K. The event includes lots of superheroes, a costume contest, dance party, obstacle course, bounce house and more. For more information go here.

Thinking of running the marathon? Sign up now to help hurricane relief efforts

Homes are flooded in north Beaumont near the Pine Island Bayou after Hurricane Harvey on Thursday August 31, 2017. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Thinking of registering for the Austin Marathon, Half Marathon, 5K or 3M Half Marathon?

High Five Events announced today that it will donate 100 percent of registration and processing fees from those who sign up between today and Friday to hurricane relief efforts. Runners can also make an additional donation to the Corpus Christi Food Bank.

So far, the company has donated more than $15,000 in brand new materials such as trash bags, cleaning supplies, new shirts and duffle bags to Austin Disaster Relief Network. Staff members have helped clean up debris in Aransas Pass, Sinton and Rockport, and they will continue volunteering in coastal towns in coming weeks.




Fit City’s top picks for active fun next weekend

Pam LeBlanc, Jody Seaborn, Mercedes Orten and Chris Thibert jump before the 2014 Zilker Relays.

Like to stay fit and have fun? Check our picks for healthy activities in the next week:

  • Head to Zilker Park on Friday, Sept. 8, for the Zilker Relays, the unofficial kickoff of the fall racing season in Austin. Teams of four will run a looped, 2.5-mile course, battling it out in a slew of divisions, including men, women, mixed, seniors, corporate, family, running store, civil service and fitness. Stick around for the finish party, which will include food from TacoDeli, beer and live music. The kids race starts at 6 p.m.; adults start at 6:30 p.m. Entry fee is $50 per person. To register, go here.
  • Weather looks good for the next Moonlight Bat Float, set for Saturday, Sept. 9 on Lady Bird Lake. Sign-in begins at 6:30 p.m.; paddlers will push off at 7 p.m. from the docks of Texas Rowing Center, 1541 West Cesar Chavez Street. The Flyin’ A’s will provide live music as canoes, kayaks and standup paddleboards make their way to the Congress Avenue Bridge to watch the bats emerge for a night of mosquito hunting. For more information go here.
  • On Sunday, Sept. 10, help organizers reach their goal of raising $100,000 for brain cancer research and local patient support at the Brain Power 5K, presented by Baylor Scott & White Health. The race takes place at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park. The Kids K starts at 8 a.m. The Survivor Stride starts at 8:15 a.m., followed by the 10K at 8:30 a.m. and the 5K and 1-miler at 8:40 a.m. The post race party starts at 9:30 a.m. Entry fee ranges from $12 for an untimed kids 5K/Kids Fun Run to $40 for the adult timed 10K. Funds will benefit the Dr. Marnie Rose Foundation for Brain Cancer Research at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. To register  go here.
  • Ready to chill? The Hyatt Regency Austin will host its September “Pints & Poses” class at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11 in the Texas Ballroom on the second floor. Ferny Barcelo will lead a free yoga class, accompanied by live, meditated music spun by local yoga DJ Trey Tarwater. Attendees are encouraged to bring and donate an item for Front Steps to help the homeless affected by Hurricane Harvey. The shelter needs soap, shampoo, new underwear and socks. Guests are encouraged to bring their own mats. After class, participants get a coupon for a free draft beer at the hotel’s Marker 10 bar. Attendees also get free parking in the hotel garage. For more information go here.

Grumpy? Go jump in the lake – science proves it makes us feel better

Wallace J. Nichols, author of “Blue Mind,” gives away blue marbles to remind people of the importance of water. ERICH SCHLEGEL for American-Statesman

I love the water.

It’s a joke in my home. When I first got married, my husband talked me into skipping swim practice one morning so I could go run errands with him. I grudgingly agreed, then promptly grouched around the rest of the day.

That only happened once. “If Pam doesn’t swim, nobody’s happy,” Chris says now.

RELATED: Two Austin swimming holes make New York Times’ list of best places to swim.

Wallace J. Nichols, author of “Blue Mind,” takes a yoga class on a standup paddleboard at Lake Austin Spa. ERICH SCHLEGEL for American-Statesman

It’s true. Jumping into Barton Springs, hitting swim practice, diving into Lake Austin or skinny dipping in the ocean just before midnight (yes, that happened last week in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi) washes away stress and makes me feel like Mother Nature is cradling me in her arms. Plus, it keeps me fit.

Last week, I headed to Lake Austin Spa Resort to meet Wallace J. Nichols, author of “Blue Mind,” a book that explains, in scientific terms, all the reasons why getting in, on or near the water make us feel better. Nichols grew up spending lots of time in the water surfing, swimming and canoeing, and it’s become his mission to encourage others to jump in, too.

Pam LeBlanc, left, and Wallace Nichols, ride standup paddleboards on Lake Austin. ERICH SCHLEGEL for American-Statesman

The resort has adopted a whole menu of water-related activities and programs based on Nichols’ “Blue Mind” approach, from bootcamp in kayaks to meditation sessions on a dock to yoga classes on standup paddleboards.

RELATED: Tired of crowds? Try these less trendy pools, parks and trail. 

I joined Nichols for a swim and some fun on the lake – and for some longer conversations about water. When I said goodbye, he gave me a blue marble, and tasked me with handing that along to someone else, to remind them that water makes everything better.

Read my Fit City column next week to learn more about Nichols’, his book, and Lake Austin Spa Resort’s watery activities.