According to my race calendar, but definitely not the thermometer, fall has nearly arrived.
The Zilker Relays, unofficial kickoff to Austin’s fall racing season, takes place Sept. 7 at Zilker Park. The four-person, 10-mile relay starts at 6:30 p.m. on roads in and around the park, and wraps up with a party on the Great Lawn featuring live music by the Staylyns, food from Tacodeli and free beer from Strange Land Brewery.
“There is no other race where you can run through Zilker Park in the evening, with a view of downtown Austin, and wrap it up with great food and drinks and live music into the night,” says race founder Paul Perrone, whose grin is perhaps my favorite in all of Austin.
The race will make anyone smile. Usually, it rains. Or it’s hot as heck for the first 2.5-mile leg, then a storm hits, then it gets muggy.
It’s a big deal. Last year more than 1,300 people participated.
A children’s relay kicks off shortly before the adult relay and every child participant will get a cape and Tacodeli meal.
This year, Zilker Relays will once again partner with the Lesedi Project to raise funds for the Ethembeni School in South Africa, a school for physically disabled and visually impaired children.
One year I met Superman – not an imposter, but the real deal. He was nice to me, probably because I was wearing my Wonder Woman costume (which, by the way, I wore to rappel down a 38-story building last year, and also to the movie theater once.)
Another year I met Batman, and that was scary, because he didn’t even crack a smile.
On Sept. 16, you can mingle with caped crusaders and superpower-wielding human beings at the CASA Superhero Run 5K and Kids 1K.
Superheros of all shapes and sizes turn out en masse for this run, which raises money for CASA, which advocates through the court system for children who have been abused or neglected. This year’s race also serves as the opening event of the Austin Distance Challenge, a series of running races that leads up to the Austin Marathon in February.
The race moves to a new location this year, the IBM Client Innovation Center at Broadmoor Campus, 11501 Burnet Road. The 5K begins at 8 a.m.; the Kids 1K, with villains to chase, starts at 9:15 a.m. A dance party and costume contest will follow. Besides the foot race, expect bounce houses, special superhero guest appearances and lots of fun family activities.
The event supports the CASA programs of Travis, Williamson, Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays Counties, which works with volunteers to advocate for abused or neglected children in the court system.
Why superheros? Here’s what CASA says about that: “Superman was adopted. Spiderman was raised by his aunt and uncle. Batman grew up with his butler, Alfred, and later took in Robin to raise as his ward. Wonder Woman was made out of clay by Amazons and brought to life by the gods. Few superheroes grew up in a typical family situation raised by their own parents, yet they all accomplished great things as adults. CASA believes all children deserve the chance to grow up happy and healthy and become superhero adults themselves.”
A year and a half ago, I laced up my shoes, shucked off my clothes and ran the Bare Buns 5K race as part of my self-proclaimed Year of Adventure.
Aside from a little awkwardness when I first stripped down, I enjoyed the run. I know it sounds absurd, but once the starting horn sounded, it felt just like any other timed run – only with better airflow. It also marked the first (and only) time I won the overall women’s division of a running race, probably because most of the competition was male.
That race takes place in the spring, when flowers are blooming and butterflies are fluttering. Now Star Ranch Nudist Resort, a private residential community located east of Austin in McDade, has added a second naked run to its schedule. This time, leaves will be falling from trees as the runners take off.
Chances are it’ll still be warm then, and the course carries runners over the same pine needle-covered hills, sandy expanses and a hay field as last time. When I ran before, I wore running shoes and a straw cowboy hat, which blew off my head at one point. That attire should suffice this time, too.
Although runners can wear whatever clothing they want (sports bras for women, for example), most go nude except for shoes. The year I ran, the race drew about 120 runners, most of whom didn’t live at the park. The residents were enthusiastic, though, handing out timing chips and directing athletes along the course. Afterward, everyone gathered by the newly-renovated swimming pool for a celebration and burger cookoff.
Gates open for the Chilly Cheeks 5K at 9 a.m. The chip-timed race starts at 1 p.m. A 1K kids fun run is set for 10 a.m. Entry fee is $30 for adults and $10 for children. Sign up online here.
Star Ranch opened in 1957. The resort is member resort of the American Association for Nude Recreation. The Bare Buns 5K and the Chilly Cheeks 5K are part of a series of naked races in the organization’s southwest region.
Anybody who’s spent time training for a marathon knows that a special bond develops between exercise buddies.
That’s the idea behind the free Walk and Talk summer program from Marathon Kids, the non-profit organization that works to improve the health and happiness of children through running and walking programs.
Parents who register online for the Walk and Talk program will get a link to 26 discussion topics ranging from health and education to knock-knock jokes and travel dreams – one for each mile of walking or running with their kids. They’ll also get a special mileage log to record their progress.
“Kids are sometimes more comfortable connecting when they’re engaged in activities with their parents, like coloring, or cooking or exercising,” Marathon Kids chief executive officer Cami Hawkins said in a press release. “There’s something about being together, side by side, that helps get the ball rolling on good conversation.”
Research also shows that when kids engage in physical activity with their parents, they have a much better chance of developing lifelong healthy habits, Hawkins said.
After 26(.2) miles, the parent and child will have completed the equivalent of a full marathon – and they’ll know each other a little better in the process.
Early pricing is in effect. Registration is $100 for the marathon, $80 for the half and $35 for the 5K. Prices increase July 18 and again in September, October, December and January. If you sign up at the expo on race weekend next February, you’ll fork over $160 to enter the marathon, $140 for the half and $60 for the 5K.