At Barton Springs U, polish your knowledge of Austin’s favorite pool

Learn all about Barton Springs at the free, all-day Barton Springs University next Tuesday.

If you live in Austin, you’re pretty much required to love and appreciate Barton Springs.

Not up to snuff on your springs knowledge? Head to Barton Springs Pool next Tuesday to get schooled. And bring your swimsuit, because pool admission will be free all day.

RELATED: What’s the real temperature at Barton Springs Pool? Hint: It’s not 68 degrees

The event is designed for high school and college students – and the general public. Hydrologists, biologists and a host of other experts will lead informative sessions about everything from salamanders, cave life, meeting Austin’s water needs, drought impacts on the Edward’s Aquifer, Zilker Park history and more.

The sun rises over Barton Springs Pool on May 13, 2017. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Tanya Streeter, free diver and spokesperson for the Plastic Oceans Foundation, will kick things off with a keynote presentation titled “Water and Plastic from the Heart to the High Seas” at 9:30 a.m. on the south hill.

RELATED: Zilker Park celebrates its 100th birthday this year

Hands-on activities are part of the lineup. You can take a guided snorkel tour (gear provided), test the quality of water drawn from the springs, or use a dip net to collect organisms from the water.

Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea and Bill Bunch, executive director of Save Our Springs Alliance, will wrap up the event with their afternoon keynote discussion at 4 p.m., titled “Twenty-five More Years of Protecting Barton Springs.”

The event is presented by the Save Our Springs Alliance , in partnership with the Austin Parks Department, the University of Texas Environmental Science Institute, Texas State University, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Texas Parks and Wildilfe Department, the Sierra Club and more.

Check the full schedule of activities here.

The event takes place at the pool, 2131 William Barton Drive. Rain date is Sept. 29.

Ever read every word on a Dr. Bronner’s soap bottle? This guy’s about to …

Elijah Olson will read the entire label of a Dr. Bronner’s soap bottle at 6 p.m. Friday. Photo by Robbie Searcy

Ever read all the fine print on a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s pure castile soap?

Don’t worry, we haven’t either. But we’re excited to hear that University of Texas student  Eli Olson plans to turn it into poetry when he hosts a reading of the text, in its entirety, at an Austin park tomorrow.

The “Dr. Bronner’s Soap Bottle Reading” is scheduled for 6-7 p.m. Friday at Hemphill Park, 201 West 30th Street.

“As the last rays of summer sunlight fade into fall, join me on the grassy slopes of Hemphill Park as I read, unabridged, the complete text of a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Soap,” Olson wrote on a Facebook page advertising the event. “Possibly while perched on a tree. The event is free, but I’ll be accepting donations to cover soap costs.”

Olson, 20, says the event started as a joke, but he really does plan to do it. He plans to use his “best Southern preacher/shaman’s voice.”

“I was in the shower one day and reading the soap, and thought, ‘Hey, it would be really funny to say I’m going to read the soap in front of everybody and then actually do it. I had no idea it would blow up like it did.”

The label is notoriously strange, with normal stuff like ingredients and uses, and a lot of really weird stuff we can’t explain. Read the text from a bottle of the company’s baby soap here.

Natural Grocers will donate soap for the event. Olson says he will set up a wash station “so you can bathe you and your loved ones in magical pure castile soap.”

Olson invites attendees to bring their own labels or brands to read, soap or otherwise. “Maybe we can get a cool label reading thing going,” he said.

As of noon Thursday, nearly 300 people had RSVPed for the event.

“It’s hilarious and intriguing, and how many of us have not read the words on that label?” said Robbie Searcy, who said she may attend.

The reading will take place in the main part of the park, behind the fire station and near the basketball court, Olson said. “You will know of the true soap bottle reader as I will be swathed in a multi-colored blanket,” Olson wrote.

See the event page here.

How to warm up for swimming? Do ‘The Egyptian’ with Rip Esselstyn

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Most of us know that warming up before diving head first into a workout helps prevent injury.

That holds true with swimming, and nobody demonstrates a stylish warmup better than former University of Texas swimmer Rip Esselstyn, author of “The Engine 2 Diet.”

Rip Esselstyn, author of “The Engine 2 Diet,” demonstrates a move he calls “The Egyptian” before swim practice this week. Photo by Pam LeBlanc/Austin American-Statesman

Esselstyn, one of my teammates on the U.S. Masters Swim team at Western Hills Athletic Club, stands on deck before swim practice, flapping his arm like a member of The Bangles doing their signature 1980s hit, “Walk Like an Egyptian.”

It makes me laugh, and by watching the video above, you can see the effect it had on five-time Olympic medalist Ian Crocker, who coached this morning’s practice.

It looks funny, but Esselstyn’s warmup habit is a good one. As we get older, our bodies need more time to warmup. Read more about fitness after 50 in an upcoming Fit City column.


Fit City’s picks for active weekend fun

Runners skip up Congress Avenue during the 2014 Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure (RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

We’re staring down the barrel of a big weekend, fitness fans.

And you’ve got some decision making to do, because two big fund-raising races are scheduled for Saturday, along with the first day of a sweet-sounding series of standup paddle boarding classes.

Read on for details …

Susan G. Komen Austin’s Race for the Cure, Sept. 24

A participants runs with a dog in the 2013 Susan G. Komen Austin Race for the Cure.

Survivors, family members, friends and all kinds of pink-bedecked people who care will line up for the start of the Race for the Cure, a 5K run and walk that funds breast cancer screenings and treatment services right here in the Austin area. The race moves to a new site this year, starting and finishing at the Austin American-Statesman, 305 South Congress Avenue. Athletes will head up Congress Avenue to the capitol and back. Dress up your dog for the pet costume contest, too. Race starts 7:30 a.m. Registration is $45 for adults , $35 for survivors or $25 youth (or pay $40 to participate virtually). To sign up, go here.

Schlotzsky’s Bun Run, Sept. 24

Runners participate in the Kids Bun Run during the 2004 Schlotzsky’s 5K Bun Run. Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman

The race named after the sandwich with a funny name kicks off at 8 a.m. Sunday in the heart of The Domain, 11401 Century Oaks Terrace. It’s the 35th running of the Schlotzky’s Bun Run, and this year’s event includes a Kids K 1K race and a special category so pups can vie for the title of Fastest Dog in Austin. Registration proceeds will be donated to JDRF, a global organization that funds Type 1 diabetes research. To register, go here. 

And on Tuesday, Sept. 26, the Day of Dough, all Schlotzsky’s restaurants will donate 10 percent of the day’s sales to JDRF, and then Schlotzsky’s corporate will match that 10 percent, for a total donation of 20 percent of that day’s net sales.

Standup Paddlebaord Skills Class, Sept. 24

Congress Avenue Kayaks will start a new standup paddleboard skills class on Sunday. Photo by Sydney Fuller

Congress Avenue Kayaks will launch a new series of standup paddleboard skills classes, starting at 8:30 a.m. this Sunday. Participants will learn the history of the sport, basic paddle techniques and general safety practices while paddling on Lady Bird Lake with trained guides. Ages 13 and up; life vest, paddle, and SUP provided. Additional classes scheduled for Oct. 1 and Oct. 29. Congress Avenue Kayaks is located at the Waller Creek Boathouse, 74 Trinity Street. Class cost is $45 per person. Register at For more information, call (512) 809-8916.

Runner dubbed ‘The Mad Pooper’ terrorizes Colorado neighborhood

Add this one to the “runners behaving badly” file.

A runner has been terrorizing a neighborhood in Colorado Springs, Colorado, by pooping (yes, pooping) on lawns.

Cathy Budde, who lives in a home that has been targeted several times, has dubbed the woman “The Mad Pooper.” Her children were the first to spot the subject in the act.

Witnesses say she’s soiled lawns in several parts of the neighborhood, although she brings her own paper towels to tidy up afterward. She’s paid no heed to a sign asking her to stop, and prefers yards to the portable toilet at a nearby park and the restroom at a gas station down the street, according to news reports.

The story has gone viral, and journalists are enjoying the opportunity for word play. The Huffington Post noted that the runner keeps “coming in turd place.”  Deadspin called it a case of “revenge pooping.”  USA Today took a stab at the article, but kept it mostly clean (and still hilarious.)

A woman dubbed “The Mad Pooper” has been terrorizing a Colorado Springs neighborhood. Photo by Tom McCarthy Jr. for Austin American-Statesman

The report conjured up memories of another ill-behaving runner, who menaced the Steiner Ranch neighborhood off of Highway 620 in 2010.

That testy runner reportedly “plowed into” other walkers and runners on a sidewalk along Quinlan Park Road and chastised them if they were overweight. One victim of that “Rude Jogger” said the perpetrator bumped into her, then yelled, “If you would move your fat ass off the sidewalk, there would be enough room for both of us.”

After several incidents, someone in the neighborhood started a Rude Jogger group on Facebook called Fatsos Unite Now (FUN).

Are McAllen, San Antonio and El Paso really better at exercising than Austin?

A runner uses the Boardwalk on Lady Bird Lake to exercise at dawn.

Apparently, we’re not as fit as we think here in Austin, despite those crowded trails and bustling gyms.

The Austin-Round Rock area comes in a disappointing 70th out of 189 U.S. communities in the “Rates of Regular Exercise” report, part of the Gallup-Sharecare State of American Well-Being series.

The study focuses on a single question: “In the last seven days, on how many days did you exercise for 30 or more minutes?” Those who reported exercising for 30 minutes or more, on three or more days in the previous week, were categorized as exercising “regularly.”

In the Austin area, 56.7 percent of those surveyed were categorized as regular exercisers. That’s slightly above the national average of 53.4 percent, the highest since Gallup and Sharecare began measuring in 2008.

That means more than half of respondents claimed they exercised for 30 minutes or more at least three days a week. Which seems a little optimistic, come to think of it.

Even more baffling, the Austin area finished behind three Texas communities usually more associated with high obesity rates than fitness – El Paso, 39th, McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, 40th, and San Antonio-New Braunfels, 65th. We did beat Dallas-Fort Worth, 77th, Corpus Christi, 93rd, Lubbuck, 126th, and Beaumont-Port Arthur, 150th.

Alissa Podber lifts weights at Hyde Park Gym Monday September 12, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Studies are odd. Depending on the focus, they show different results.

A study released earlier this year by WalletHub, which used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, listed the McAllen-Edinburg area as the fourth fattest city in the country (it also had the highest percentage of obese adults in the country.) San Antonio-New Braunfels came in 14th; El Paso was 22nd. Austin was 71st on that list.

What gives?

Maybe respondents aren’t answering truthfully. The Gallup-Sharecare study is based on more than 350,000 telephone interviews.

The Gallup-Sharecare study also looked at exercise rates by gender, age, income and race/ethnicity. It found that more males than females are regular exercisers, rates of regular exercisers fall as people age, Hispanics have higher rates of regular exercisers than Asians, whites or blacks, and rates of regular exercisers increase as income rises.

The city with the most regular exercisers? Boulder, Colorado. The city with the fewest? Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, North Carolina with 41.8 percent.

To see the full report, go here.

Students get a week off at Thanksgiving this year – go camping!

Pam LeBlanc camps in the Texas Hill Country. Photo by Marcy Stellfox

News flash, parents.

For the first time this year, students in the Austin Independent School District get five entire days off surrounding Thanksgiving. That means they’ll join students from the Rock Rock, Lake Travis, Pflugerville, Leander-Cedar Park and Hays County districts in getting a week-long fall break.

RELATED: Our favorite five off-the-trodden path places to camp in Central Texas

Happily, November coincides with some of the best camping weather of the year here in Central Texas. Instead of sweat-soaked nights and sun-scorched afternoons, we finally get to enjoy the bliss of a toasty campfire, a snuggly sweatshirt and a brisk afternoon hike.

Marcy Stellfox bundles up in camp at Devils River State Natural Area near Del Rio. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Thanksgiving falls on Thursday, Nov. 23. This year’s official fall break is Nov. 20-24.

That means if you want to take the crew camping the week of Thanksgiving (turkey over a campfire, anyone?), you need to reserve a spot at a campground now.

RELATED: At Enchanted Rock, test backpacking waters with beginner friendly trip

We’ve got some great, nearby options for camping here in Central Texas. Among our favorites? Colorado Bend State Park, South Llano River State Park, Lost Maples State Park and Garner State Park.

RELATED: Need some solitude? Pitch a tent on your own

Fees vary by park, but at Bastrop State Park, for example, the daily rate for a tent site is $12; sites with electric hookups and water are $20, and sites with electric, water and sewer are $25.

To make online reservations in campgrounds (or cabins) at Texas State Parks, go here. A credit card is needed to reserve a site online.

The Lower Colorado River Authority also maintains campgrounds in Central Texas. For more information about camping at those parks, go here.

Austin-based Kammok donates proceeds of Texas flag hammock to hurricane relief

Proceeds from this Texas flag hammock benefit hurricane relief. Photo courtesy Kammok

How could hanging out in a hammock get any better?

When the hammock looks like a Texas flag, and proceeds from its purchase benefit Texans who need help in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Austin-based outdoor gear manufacturer Kammok is donating 100 percent of proceeds from its Texas flag hammock to the American Red Cross Foundation, to help with hurricane relief along the Texas coast.

RELATED: The coolest way to camp? In a hammock.

“Our contribution is only a small drop in the bucket toward providing restoration in the long path toward recovery, but we are committed to seeing this storm through,” says Greg McEvilly, founder of Kammok. “Times like these are incredible opportunities for our team, personally and corporately, to enter into the adventure of changing lives with a message of hope, healing, and restoration.”

The hammock sells for $79 (straps sold separately). To buy one, go here.

Thinking about adventure racing or trail running? Check out these info sessions

Pam LeBlanc, center, runs through the desert at the Big Bend Ultra. An information session about the upcoming race is set for Tuesday at Whole Earth Provisions. Photo by Chris LeBlanc

If you’re thinking about doing any adventure racing or desert trail running, check out these two upcoming information clinics.

On Tuesday, Carroll Voss, race director of the Big Bend Ultra, will talk about what it takes to tackle the the 10K, 30K or 50K race at Big Bend Ranch State Park. I’ve done the 30K four or five times and love the feeling of scampering through the desert with big skies overhead and a host of prickly critters eager to scratch, sting or bite you underfoot. The 2018 race is set for Jan. 14. (To sign up go here; proceeds benefit the Compadres del Rancho Grande’s projects in support of the park.) The info session starts at 7 p.m. at Whole Earth Provision Co., 1014 North Lamar Boulevard, and will include details about the race, plus general tips on desert trail running. Whole Earth staff will have suggestions for great footwear, clothing and gear to equip you. For more information call 512-476-1414.

RELATED: Running through the desert at the Big Bend Ultra. 

On Thursday, head to Rogue Running, 410 Pressler Street, for the Adventure Racing 101 and Howl at the Moon adventure race information clinic. The session starts at 6:30 p.m., and beer and snacks will be provided. Afterward, participants can get discounted registration for the Oct. 21 Howl at the Moon event, which includes a 2- to 4-hour sprint version and a 4- to 8-hour adventure version. For more information about the race go here. 

Statesman Cap10K to hand out medals in 2018

For the first time ever, finishers of the Statesman Cap10K will get a medal.

Nobody runs just for the medal – at least we don’t think they do. But there’s something to be said for holding a hefty medallion in your hand after you’ve crossed the finish line of a race.

For the first time in 2018, everyone who finishes the Statesman Capitol 10,000 will get a shiny medal, to have and to hold. The race, the largest 10K in Texas, is set for April 8. You can register here.

In other Cap10K news, race director Jeff Simecek announced today that Leo Manzano, who won a silver medal in the 1,500 meters at the 2012 London Olympics, will return as race ambassador.

Leo Manzano runs on the Butler Trail around Lady Bird Lake. Photo by Nell Carroll/Austin American-Statesman

Manzano was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when he was 4. A five-time NCAA champion and nine-time All-American at the University of Texas, he’s known for his famous finishing kick.

RELATED: Manzano seizes silver medal in 1,500 meters 

Also making an encore as race beneficiary is the Austin Parks Foundation, a non-profit organization that works with volunteers to improve parks in and around Austin. Last year the organization received more than $40,000 from the Cap10K.

RELATED: The Statesman Cap10K celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. 

One dollar from each registration for the 2018 Cap10K will go to Austin Parks Foundation. The Statesman will donate up to $10,000 in additional participant donations.

The Cap10K began in 1978 with 3,400 participants. In 2017, the race had 21,390 registered participants. Additional race information is available here.