Run through clouds of foam at dream-themed Color Run

This year’s Color Run features a dream and unicorn theme. Photo courtesy The Color Run


Want to see unicorns, run through clouds of foam and puffs of color?

Head to the Travis County Expo Center on Saturday for the “Dream Tour” edition of the Color Run.

The race starts at 9 a.m. and benefits the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area. Organizers describe the 5K route as a magical course featuring colorful effects, music and something called the Dream Wall, where runners can spray paint their dreams on the wall. A finish festival will feature the Runicorn, dancing, photo opportunities and more color throws.

Runners get splashed with color at The Color Run. Photo courtesy The Color Run

“We want The Color Run to bring happiness and health to people’s lives, and even be the motivator that kicks off Color Runners’ healthy lifestyles,” said race director Chad Evans.

Participants get a shirt, a unicorn finisher’s medal, a headband, temporary tattoos and a color-in runner’s bib.

The race starts at 9 a.m. at the Travis County Expo Center, 7311 Decker Lane. Entry fee is $39.99 for each member of a four-person team or $44.99 for solo runners. To register go here.

The event takes place at the Travis County Expo Center on Decker Lane. Photo courtesy The Color Run

Paddling fund-raiser to help pets of homebound seniors

Proceeds from a paddling event on Lady Bird Lake will help buy food and veterinary care for pets belonging to homebound adults. Photo courtesy PALS

You can help provide pet food and veterinary care for pets of homebound older adults and disabled people by paddling on Lady Bird Lake this weekend.

Organizers of the Paddle and Play Day fund-raiser hope to raise $5,000 for clients of the Pets Assisting the Lives of Seniors, or PALS, a program of Meals on Wheels Central Texas.

A $35 ticket includes an hour of paddling on the lake on a kayak, canoe or standup paddleboard, an event T-shirt from Kong Screenprinting & Design, a goody bag filled with freebies and coupons, and three raffle tickets. A land-only ticket costs $15.

Pets can provide routine, social engagement, exercise and physical and emotional health for elderly people. The PALS program started in 2009 as a way to help elderly and disabled clients of Meals on Wheels care for their beloved pets. Last year, it helped more than 380 clients and their more than 690 cats and dogs.

The fund-raiser is set for 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Sunday at The Rowing Dock. Photo courtesy PALS

“A dog or cat can provide much needed companionship and help reduce the isolation and loneliness that many of our clients experience. That’s why PALS helps the people we serve care for their furry friends,” says Heather Allard, PALS program coordinator at Meals on Wheels Central Texas.

The event is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, April 30 at the Rowing Dock, 2418 Stratford Drive. Land activities including a dog agility course, sales of pet-related goods from local vendors and bidding on raffle items, including pet photo sessions, grooming and doggie day care, begin at 9 a.m. Starting at 11 a.m, humans (and their dogs) can hit the water in canoes or kayaks, or on paddleboards.

For more information, go here.

The Trail Foundation names Heidi Cohn new executive director

The Trail Foundation has named Heidi Cohn its new executive director. Photo courtesy The Trail Foundation

The Trail Foundation has named Heidi Cohn its new executive director.

Cohn, director of development for the Hill Country Conservancy since 2014, will take over the post June 1. She replaces Brian Ott, a landscape architect who has served as interim executive director of the foundation since it parted ways with long-time director Susan Rankin last October.

“The Trail Foundation board wanted to go in a new direction and a board has the right to set priorities,” Rankin said at the time, adding that she is most proud of her work spearheading the boardwalk project, which closed a gap beneath the Interstate 35 bridge in the 10-mile trail around Lady Bird Lake.

Cohn starts her new post as executive director on June 1. Photo courtesy The Trail Foundation.

Cohn worked in fund-raising and events for education and arts groups in Oklahoma, and headed up a cycling and running event there called the Red Bud Classic, before joining the Hill Country Conservancy staff three years ago. She says the new job feels like a natural next step.

“The Violet Crown Trail (a major project of the Hill Country Conservancy) has reinforced my love for hiking and the outdoors,” she said by phone Tuesday. “When I got this opportunity, it felt like I could take the skills I learned and relationships I’ve built working with stakeholders who are part of the trail community.”

Cohn says she walks and runs on Austin trails several times a week.

“I live in South Austin, and one of the things I love about the trails here as a whole is they’re free to the public and you can go and share in the outdoors with like-minded folks, and get exercise and commune with nature at the same time.”

The Trail Foundation, a non-profit organization, works to protect and enhance the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake, which gets more than 2.6 million visits annually.

“Heidi has the ideal combination of experience in the preservation of important natural spaces, raising private funding, and working collaboratively with city staff, elected officials, business leaders, volunteers and our other constituencies,” Ott said in a press release.

The Trail Foundation has ambitious goals for the next five years, as the trail’s popularity continues to grow and the need to protect and enhance it grows too, board chair Cassie Gresham said in a press release.

“Heidi is not only poised to lead the foundation’s continued growth, but will play a major role in the projects currently under way, including the new trail bridge at Congress Avenue, trail-wide ecological restoration work, and enhancements to the east side of the trail,” Gresham said.

For more information go here.

Race officials: Marathon pumped $34.4 million into local economy

Female champion Allison Macsas, Olympic silver medalist and Austin Marathon ambassador Leo Manzano, and 2017 male champion Joe Thorne pose after the 2017 Austin Marathon. Photo by Ed Sparks

The 26.2-mile jaunt pumped $34.4 million into the Austin economy during race weekend, according to officials at High Five Events, which put on the event.

Race officials teamed with experts at the Bill Munday School of Business at St. Edward’s University to calculate the event’s financial impact, which marked an $8.7 million increase from 2016. That bump, though, comes partly because of a change in what data is included in calculations.

Ali Dadpay, associate dean, MBA director, and professor of economics at St. Edward’s, conducted the research for the 2017 economic impact report. He incorporated High Five Events’ localized spending, volunteer contributions and job creation statistics to measure the direct, indirect and induced economic impact.

Participants relax with a cold beer after the race in the Oskar Blues Austin Beer Garden. Photo by Ed Sparks

“The Austin Marathon is an example of a sports event which vitalizes the local economy and creates significant revenue for the city and the local business community,” Dadpay said in a press release. “We have used estimated spending and estimated averages to aggregate total spending. The multiplier effect for this event is significant, and we can believe it impacts all economic sectors in our region.”

Marathon officials glowed over the news.

“This year’s economic contributions by the Austin Marathon showcase the growth of Austin’s flagship running event, the staggering financial impact it has on the city of Austin, and the idea that Austin is a destination for runners from around the world,” Stacy Keese, co-owner of High Five Events, said in a press release.

That’s another Cap10K in the books – check out photos here!

Here I am celebrating my finish with friend (and crazy fast runner) Iram Leon.


I certainly don’t recommend entering races without proper training, but that’s what I did at this year’s Statesman Capitol 10,000.

And you know what? It went great! (Check out my photos from before and after the race here.)

I’ve missed the race the past two years – in 2015 I was bicycling across Louisiana, and last year I was five months into a raging case of plantar fasciitis.

The plantar fasciitis isn’t 100 percent healed, even after 17 months, but I decided it’s time to try to running a little bit again. I miss it, and the sweet, physically satisfied feeling I get from cruising 5 or 6 miles a couple of times a week. So on Sunday morning, I rode my bike downtown and lined up at my favorite race of the year.

Walter Moreau ran the Cap10K wearing this costume. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

The race marked my third run in 17 months. The first took place five weeks ago, when I found myself, after a medicine ball session with Urban Animal Laura Cisneros, wearing running shoes and standing at the edge of the Butler Trail around Lady Bird Lake. Nothing to lose, I thought, so I might as well try.

That went well, so I signed up for the Bare Buns 5K in McDade two weeks ago. And no, I didn’t bother to sneak in even a single other practice run before that race, which I managed to win. (Not much competition in the female division of a naked race, it turns out.)

Confidence bolstered, I decided to plunge into the Cap10K. I pedal a bike to work almost every day and swim on a swim team four or five times a week, so I’m pretty fit. But I also know that swimming and biking fitness don’t necessarily translate to running fitness.

When I lined up at the start line, I had low expectations.

Sunday’s cool, crisp weather worked in my favor. So did the energy of the crowd, which swept me up Congress Avenue, west along Enfield Road, down the Loop 1 Boulevard access road to Lady Bird Lake, then along Cesar Chavez to the finish line.

And you know what? After what I’m dubbing my “16-month running taper,” my time didn’t really fall off that much. I wound up with a 52:34, about a minute slower than my last Cap10K in 2015. That was good enough for 11th place in my age group, out of 698 runners. I’ll take it!

And hello, running shoes. It’s nice to see you up close again!

Lunafest women’s film fest set for Saturday, benefits Mamma Jamma Ride

“The Honeys and the Bears,” which is part of this year’s Lunafest film festival, tells the story of a senior women’s synchronized swim team. Photo courtesy Lunafest

A touring collection of short films created by women and featuring women will stop in Austin Saturday.

Lunafest features eight short films by women filmmakers. They range from animation to fictional drama, and cover topics such as women’s health, motherhood, body image, aging, cultural diversity and breaking barriers.

Doors open at 10 a.m. Saturday at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, 1120 S. Lamar Boulevard. Films start at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are $10 ($25 for VIP), and proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Fund and Texas Mamma Jamma Ride. To purchase them, go here.

This year’s Texas Mamma Jamma Ride is set for Sept. 23 in Martindale. The ride raises money to support local programs and services for breast cancer fighters and survivors in Central Texas.

Thanks for inspiring my Year of Adventure, John Muir!

Today is John Muir Day. Last summer I backpacked the John Muir Trail, and it inspired my 2017 Year of Adventure. CHRIS LEBLANC PHOTO


Backpacking the John Muir Trail last summer changed my life.

It nearly broke me, and I nearly quit more than once, but in the end, it gave me confidence and an insatiable craving for more adventure. (Read my story about the trip here.)

It even inspired my 2017 Year of Adventure, which continues this week with a story Sunday about my latest episode – jumping off the 10-meter dive platform at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center at the University of Texas.

Pam LeBlanc hikes Mount Whitney on the last day of her 15-day trip on the John Muir Trail last summer. CHRIS LEBLANC PHOTO

The picture above was taken on the last day of our 15-day trip on the John Muir Trail. I remember the moment perfectly. I was looking down on Guitar Lake, glinting far below, from a pile of cracked boulders halfway up Mount Whitney, thinking how capable this trip made me feel, and how it taught me that even when something felt impossible, that if I kept moving I’d eventually get to where I was going.

So in honor of John Muir Day today, a Muir quote: “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

If you love our national parks, thank Muir. Go outside. Hug a tree. Admire the plants.

And promise yourself you’ll take care of it for the next generation.

LeBlanc pitched a tent near Helen Lake on the John Muir Trail. PAM LEBLANC



Want to Live a Great Story? Upcoming conference planned

Zach Horvath created the Live A Great Story movement. Dave Creaney/AMERICAN-STATESMAN.

You know those snappy “Live a Great Story” stickers that have popped up around Austin? (Read my story about them here.) The folks behind that movement are hosting a mini-conference next week to, as they put it, “celebrate Austin awesomeness.”

The event is scheduled for 2:42 p.m. to 6:59 p.m. April 29 (these folks are specific!) at Big Ass Canvas Gallery, 440 West Second Street.

Zach Horvath prepares a Live a Great Story reminder. Dave Creaney/AMERICAN-STATESMAN.

It’ll be broken into four parts. After a quick introduction with snacks and drinks, the event will begin with a 50-minute lightning round to highlight some Austin movers and shakers. Next up? An interactive poetry experience followed by running around Second Street leaving poems on random car windows. The group will reconvene to listen to an inspiring guest speaker, then close with a surprise session. (Bunnies? Rock climbing? No telling.)

Admission includes a LIVE Inspiration Kit. Tickets are $13.45 to $21.83 (use promocode ATX for 20 percent off). Purchase them here.

In the meantime, tag your photos with #liveagreatstory if you want to engage with the movement.

Want a real gardening workout? Join Get Well Farms for an Earth Day Permablitz

Sean “Peppy” Meyer holds a baby goat born on his urban farm in Austin. PHOTO BY PAM LEBLANC


Think of a Permablitz as the original Crossfit workout.

Permablitzers meet up to create edible gardens (without using heavy machinery), share skills and build community. Gardening involves lots of muscle power, so a Permablitz means a great workout, too.

On Saturday, Get Well Farms at 2305 East Riverside Farms Road will host an Earth Day Permablitz from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Get Well Farms teaches sustainability and provides an educational platform for children, while yielding food for the neighborhood. After five years of development, the program is set to launch for the 2017-2018 school year, according to farm director Sean “Peppy” Meyer.

To participate, go to Riverside Farms Road (off of East Riverside Drive) and follow the signs to the parking area. The Buzz Mill will serve hot coffee, Jester King will provide beer and East Side Pies will provide pizza. Bring your own water bottle, working gloves and tools (mattock axe, rake, wheelbarrow, shovel, etc.). The event is free and open to all ages. No prior experience necessary.

On Give 5 to Mother Earth Day, local businesses pitch in to help non-profits

George Cofer, left, and Colin Wallis, right, will lead a bike tour around Austin, hitting as many businesses participating in Give 5 to Mother Earth Day. Photo courtesy Austin Parks Foundation


Want to help out non-profit organizations focusing on conservation and environmental causes in Austin?

On April 21, the day before Earth Day, a group of local businesses will pledge 5 percent of their sales to a fund that benefits nine non-profit organizations working to protect and preserve the planet.

That means you can lend Mother Nature a hand while eating tacos, watching movies, sipping smoothies and more.

Money raised through Give 5 to Mother Earth Day will go to Treefolks, Hill Country Conservancy, Shoal Creek Conservancy, Waller Creek Conservancy, Austin Parks Foundation, Sustainable Food Center, Texas Campaign for the Environment Fund, Pease Park Conservancy, and Friends of Barton Springs Pool.

About 100 businesses, including Tacodeli, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Guero’s, Juiceland, Amy’s Ice Creams, Four Hands Home, are participating. For a complete list, go to (Want your business to participate? You can sign up through April 21 by filling out a form on Give 5’s website at

A kickoff celebration for the event is set for 10 a.m. at Juiceland, 2828 Guadalupe.

Super motivated to help the planet and get in some nice exercise? Join George Cofer, executive director of the Hill Country Conservancy, and Colin Wallis, executive director of the Austin Parks Foundation, who will lead a bike tour around the city to hit as many of the participating businesses as possible.

Their Magical Mystical Bike Tour will begin with a quick breakfast at 7 a.m. From there, they’ll swing by the kickoff celebration at JuiceLand. For more details, go here.