Congratulations to a dozen of Central Texas’ most fabulously fit older residents, who will be featured in an upcoming calendar.
Two local physician networks set out to find inspirational residents, ages 60 to 69, to feature in the 2019 Austin 60 Strong calendar. They’ve announced the winners, who include cancer survivors, pole vaulters, a former stuntman, a nurse and more.
A panel of judges – full confession here, I was one of them – selected winners based on their health, fitness, wellness, community involvement and volunteerism. We wanted to highlight people who exemplify that worn-out phrase “living life to the fullest.” We found plenty who inspired us.
In addition to appearing in the Austin 60 Strong calendar, winners will be honored with a kickoff party, a professional photo shoot and compensation for their modeling time.
Proceeds from calendar sales will benefit Capital City Village, a virtual community of seniors committed to aging in place and community while maintaining healthy and active lifestyles.
Without further ado, the winners are:
Ben Barlin, a cancer survivor, hiker and blackbelt in jiujitsu.
Toni Bourke, a military veteran and nurse who walks daily.
Rev. Dave Corna, who lost more than 200 pounds and runs with Austin Fit.
Kim Cousins, a former educator who paddles, swims, cycles and more.
Shelley Friend, who volunteers with Faithworks and the Iron Butterflies Project and exercises daily.
Dan Garrett, who’s been running for nearly 40 years and volunteers as a coach.
Mike Gassaway, a former stunt man and motorcycle racer who does yoga and volunteers in dog rescue.
Lisa Kurek, a Crossfitter who volunteers at the Austin Center for Grief & Loss.
Susan Joiner, a cancer survivor who works out six days a week and follows a whole foods diet.
Susan Mobley, who started pole vaulting in her 60s and bakes cookies for local firefighters.
Grace Perez, a Meals on Wheels volunteer who walks daily.
Miriam Raviv, a longtime triathlete and swimmer, cyclist and runner.
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.
Invitations printed on race bibs. A group run the morning of the wedding. A ceremony in front of a race start line. Running shoes with formal attire.
Iram Leon and Elaine Chung, the president and vice president of Austin Runners Club, tied the knot Saturday in a ceremony themed around running, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows them. They met, after all, through the Austin Runners Club, while both were training for a marathon.
I met Leon in 2013, just after he’d won the overall title at the Gusher Marathon in Beaumont – while pushing his daughter in a stroller. He’d been 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.
But Leon is 38. At his most recent checkup in June, doctors told him his tumor is stable. He’s still running regularly, and if you didn’t notice the scar that snakes across the side of his head you’d probably never guess he was sick.
Chris McClung, a running coach and co-owner of Rogue Running, officiated the ceremony, working in as many running puns as possible. He wrapped things up with this: “With the power vested in me by the state of Texas and getordained.org, I now pronounce you man and wife.”
Daughter Kiana, 11, pretended to forget the ring, then dashed off to get the family dog, who carried it in.
The accompanying bash featured both Chinese and Mexican food, to honor both the bride and groom. Guests played lawn games, worked puzzles, and at one point joined a group stroll through the gardens of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
“We wanted to show our guests a good time while showing them some of us,” Leon says. “I was marrying Elaine, not an idea or an institution.”
I’ve never raced up a mountain with a pack burro at my side, so on Sept. 8 I’ll do that, with a four-legged little beast named Little Jonah.
I’ve rented Jonah from donkey matchmaker Amber Wann in Idaho Springs, Colorado, who loans out animals so (crazy) people like me can participate in a series of pack burro races in small towns around Colorado. And no, I won’t be riding the burro – runners lead their partners up steep mountain trails in races that honor the gold mining history of the area.
Wann paired me with 17-year-old Little Jonah, a resident of Laughing Valley Ranch in Idaho Springs, Colorado, because she thinks our personalities match. I looked up his results for previous years, and, well, let’s just say I’m not expecting to win this year’s race, not that it matters. Jonah’s track record makes me think he might just screech to a halt.
I’m fine with that. Plus, it’ll make a more interesting story if Jonah decides to pause to take in the scenery for a few hours.
“He has come in last ass on a time or two , but that is because the folks running him were not speedy people to begin with,” Wann told me. “Burros like Little Jonah could go either way, speed wise, depending on the person navigating and encouraging him to keep going.”
Sixty-nine University of Texas students who pedaled out of Austin earlier this summer are expected to roll into Anchorage tomorrow, wrapping up their 70-day quest to raise awareness about cancer.
A documentary about their venture, “Texas 4000,” will air at 8 p.m. tonight on the Longhorn Network, Channel 677 on AT&T Universe and Channel 383 on Time Warner. The network will also livestream the documentary at http://www.espn.com/longhornnetwork/.
Each year for the past 15 years, a team of students has made the bicycle trek. They train, raise money, volunteer in the community and serve in leadership roles to help plan every aspect of the summer ride.
This year’s group started June 1 and broke into three groups, which made their way separately to Alaska. Along the way, the cyclists presented $450,000 in grants to cancer research and treatment centers and visited with patients.
Back in Austin, the community will honor the cyclists at the annual Tribute Gala Aug. 24 at the Hyatt Regency, 208 Barton Springs Road. The gala includes dinner, live music, silent and live auctions and more. Tickets are $200 per person. For more information or to sign up, go to https://asbidding.com/register/106.
Since 2004, 751 students have completed the ride, raising more than $8.4 million.
He’ll celebrate 20 years worth of running – calculated by combining two separate running streaks – with an easy cruise through Williamson County Regional Park at 6 p.m. today.
Streak running is a thing, in case you didn’t know, and different people do it different ways. (It’s also completely different than streaking, as in running naked through a public place.) Some streak runners count any run over at least 1 mile. For Schroeder, a workout doesn’t officially count unless it lasts at least 25 minutes.
Tonight, the public is invited to join Schroeder for a 25-minute run starting at the pavilion near the tennis courts. The group will run or walk out 12 and a half minutes, then turn around and come back. No matter what your pace, everyone should finish together.
The streak-iversary happens to coincide with Schroeder’s 56th birthday. Kona Ice will serve 100 free snow cones from 6:30-7:30 p.m. There will be cake, too. No glass containers are allowed at the park. Alcohol is permitted, but please drink responsibly.
Bid summer goodbye with the annual Splash Bash at the TownLake YMCA this weekend.
The free community event is scheduled for 1-3 p.m. Saturday and will include a pool party with free snacks, games, giveaways, music and a bouncy house. The Y is located at 1100 West Cesar Chavez Street.
The event will also highlight YMCA Camp Moody, which is being developed along Onion Creek, 15 miles south of downtown Austin. The project’s initial phase will include an eight-lane natatorium that the Y is building in partnership with the Hays Consolidated school district.
When the facility is complete, all district first-graders will participate in the Y’s Project SAFE program, which provides free swimming and water safety instruction.
If you’ve always wanted to train on the field where the University of Texas Longhorns play, head to Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Aug. 11.
Camp Gladiator will celebrate a decade of group exercise with a free, open-to-the-public workout at the stadium, and thousands of participants are expected to attend.
It’s part of a nation-wide CG Stadium Takeover series that includes events at stadiums all over the country, from Mile High Stadium in Denver to Minute Maid Park in Houston and Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi. The Austin event starts at 6:45 a.m. and wraps up at 12:30 p.m. and is designed for all ages and fitness levels.
Ally and Jeff Davidson founded Camp Gladiator in 2008 in Dallas.
“We are really beyond excited to be celebrating 10 amazing years of Camp Gladiator and the impact made on hundreds of thousands of campers across the nation. We can’t wait to host our loyal campers and everyone in our amazing communities that have supported us through the years at stadiums across the nation,” Ally Davidson said in a press release.
Attendees can sign up as a spectators or competitors. In Austin, participants will be released in waves to run between 10 workout stations throughout the stadium. The full-body workout combines strength and cardio exercises. It’s based on the CG camp experience, which focuses on endurance, strength, agility, and interval training suitable for all fitness levels.
The event will also feature food, retail, and fitness vendors and other fitness activations such as a slamball slam contest and a battle rope station.
Camp Gladiator began in 2007, when Ally Davidson tried out for the NBC show “American Gladiators” four hours before her wedding. She qualified her for the show, and producers invited both Ally and her husband Jeff to compete in a couples’ episode. After their honeymoon, the couple spent four weeks in Los Angeles competing on the show. Ally won the grand championship, and the Davidsons used their winnings to start Camp Gladiator.
Camp Gladiator, which is now based in Austin, operates more than 3,500 locations in Texas, Louisiana, Colorado, North Carolina, Florida and Tenessee.
When a marathon falls short, and Austin’s heat feels downright balmy, some folks head to Death Valley to prove their athletic mettle by racing long distances through the desert.
Take Austin ultra runner Brenda Guajardo, 41, the top female finisher in last month’s Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon, an invitational race that starts in the Badwater Basin of California and winds its way up into the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Guajardo, an office administrator and event planner, ran through 108 degree temperatures and beneath scorching sun, and climbed a cumulative 14,600 feet of vertical ascent. She finished in 28 hours and 23 minutes, first among all women and fifth overall.
The former aerobics instructor, who took up running in her 20s when she decided aerobics wasn’t keeping her fit enough, has entered the race three other times. She finished eighth female in her first attempt in 2011 and second in 2016.
She was favored to win last year but broke her foot from overuse 2 miles in. That injury makes this year’s victory all the more remarkable.
“In the last year I’ve had to relearn how to walk,” she says. “I had a limp I couldn’t get rid of and I had to rebuild my mileage. I made serious adjustments in how I train. I couldn’t do speed work, because it was too much on my foot, so I just did long and high volume at a slow pace.”
The training worked.
At the first checkpoint, at Mile 17, she stood in fifth place. She took over the lead at the second checkpoint, at Mile 42, and held it all the way to the finish. Her pace ranged from speedy, 7-minute, 45-second miles on the downhills to between 14- and 16-minute miles on the final uphill slog to the finish. The second place woman finished 25 minutes behind her.
The temperatures took their toll. In the blazing sun, heat radiated from the pavement. “It’s strictly asphalt, all road,” she says. “It definitely cooks your skin.”
Guajardo said that temperatures at the race this year felt relatively comfortable, thanks to the hours she spent training in the Texas heat.
“The humidity in Austin is my Kryptonite. Racing in the desert feels like a vacation compared to the insanity of Austin’s high heat with high humidity,” she says.
Guajardo, who crossed the finish time of her first marathon in 1997 in a not-so-speedy 6 hours, prepared for Badwater by spending 90 minutes in a 140-degree dry sauna, then running outdoors in Austin. She also trained in the Big Bend area to simulate the conditions in Death Valley.
“You teach your stomach how to process fluid in high volume,” she says. “It teaches your body how to sweat very fast and push water out. On race day I put ice-filled bandanas around my neck and my crew sprayed me with water every so many miles.”
But why enter such a grueling event?
“Why not? I think I’m most intrigued by the mind and body connection of what happens when you’re out there. For me personally, I’m very introverted and my job requires me to be very extroverted. To spend an extraordinary number of hours by myself is replenishing. It’s how I gain my energy back.”
Guajardo holds the women’s course record for the Nove Colli 125-mile race in Italy. In 2016 she won Pheidippides Race — a 304-mile race in Greece, where she broke the men’s course record by more than four hours.
Guajardo says she’s not sure what comes next, other than taking some time off for a full recovery, which takes at least a month.
Or maybe enjoying some quality time with her much pet — a turtle named Charlie.
“I consider the turtle my racing animal because turtles represent longevity and patience. … A turtle reminds me to always have patience, never give up. Well, and the obvious — slow and steady wins the race.”
Lawson Craddock may have finished last in the Tour de France this year, but now he can drink free beer for the rest of his life.
The Austin-based cyclist broke his shoulder blade and cut his face during Stage 1 of this year’s Tour. Instead of packing up and heading back to Texas, Craddock kept cycling. For every stage of the race he completed, he vowed to donate $100 to Alkek Velodrome in Houston, the facility where he learned to race and which was damaged last fall during Hurricane Harvey. He invited fans to donate, too.
Craddock wound up finishing every stage of the three-week race, coming in last of the 145 finishers, a position known as “lanterne rouge.” As of today, the GoFundMe site has raised more than $252,000 for the velodrome.
To congratulate the 26-year-old cyclist, Karbach Brewing Co., the Houston-based company that makes the beer Craddock drank after he finally reached Paris, has promised to supply Craddock with Weekend Warrior Pale Ale for the rest of his life.
The brewery also pledged to donate $1 of every case of Weekend Warrior Pale Ale to Alkek Velodrome for the rest of the year.