Registration for 2019 Austin Marathon opens Friday

Registration for the 2019 Austin Marathon and Half Marathon opens Friday. (Stephen Spillman / for AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

It might feel like you just finished this year’s marathon, but registration for the 2019 race opens Friday.

RELATED: Want to ace the Austin Marathon’s new course? Heed these tips

The 28th Annual Austin Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K presented by Under Armour is scheduled for Feb. 17, 2019.

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.

New BSR Surf Resort near Waco temporarily closes for maintenance

Morgan Faulkner rides a wave at the new BSR Surf Resort near Waco. The park opens to the public on Saturday. Photo courtesy Rob Henson

Don’t strap that longboard to your car’s roof just yet, surfers.

BSR Surf Resort, the new land-locked surfing facility that opened as part of Barefoot Ski Ranch Cable Park northeast of Waco on May 12, has temporarily closed because of problems with the liner in the surf lagoon.

Park officials sent an email to season pass holders Wednesday afternoon, cancelling surf sessions this week and notifying customers that the facility would be closed “for approximately two weeks due to liner maintenance.”

RELATED: Huge new surf park near Waco opens to public

The Waco surf park park uses an air-powered system to mimic ocean waves whose strength and timing can be adjusted. Waves roll out in sets of three, with each wave spaced about 5 seconds apart and a new trio every 45 seconds.

“From all of us here at BSR, we sincerely apologize for any miscommunications and inconveniences,” said the email, from Courtney Magnusson, manager of the pro shop at the surf resort. “The outpouring of interest in our new facility has been positively overwhelming and we are restructuring and strengthening the areas needed to make sure we can best serve you.”

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

The email also said that the surf park’s online booking system is not yet up and running. “It is currently still in beta and with the closure of our surf, we are going to utilize the downtime to perfect the online booking,” the email said, adding that the park’s social media platforms will announce when the system is operational.

Other areas of Barefoot Ski Ranch Cable Park, 5347 Old Mexia Road in Axtell, remain open. water park and wakeboard areas remain open.

Don’t want to drive that far anyway? Head to NLand Surf Park east of Austin, where you can ride a man-made wave or drink beer brewed on site.


Do alligators, hallucinations and sleep deprivation sound fun? Try the Texas Water Safari

Paddlers training for the Texas Water Safari put in their boats at Palmetto State Park on May 27, 2018. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman


I’ve never been a fan of sleep deprivation, so I’ve always grimaced at the thought of the Texas Water Safari, the notoriously grueling, 260-mile paddle race from Aquarena Springs in San Marcos to the town of Seadrift on the Texas coast.

That, along with the inevitable snake-infested logjams, alligators, clown hallucinations, and water-logged skin that “turns to tissue paper,” always sounded pretty horrible.

But I can feel my mind bending, just a tad.

This year I’m taking the easy first step of observing and writing about the event, which starts June 9. I headed to Palmetto State Park over Memorial Day weekend to meet some of the paddlers who gathered there to get in some training hours.

Paddlers haul their Alumacraft canoe to the San Marcos River at Palmetto State Park. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

I knew I couldn’t keep up with them, so I brought along my husband and our Alumacraft canoe, and hitched a shuttle up to Zedler Mill, about 16 river miles above the park, to log an easy paddle myself while they sped down the river toward Gonzales. That would give me a taste of a beginner-friendly stretch of the course, plus time afterward to pick some of the racers’ brains.

It took me about three-and-a-half leisurely hours to make my run, including stops for a picnic and swimming. About 4 miles downstream of the Interstate 10 bridge, we encountered an obstacle dubbed “Son of Ottine,” a rocky drop in the river. We pulled off on the left side (avoiding a canoe-eating channel we’d been warned about) and lugged our boat partway down the little cascade, then pushed back into the flow. We eyeballed blue herons, dipped our paddles in water next to gar and drifted through a few clouds of dragonflies along the way, too.

Pam LeBlanc strikes a hammy pose before putting in her canoe at Zedler Mill. Chris LeBlanc for American-Statesman

And, yes. The thought of one day racing the Texas Water Safari, which started in 1963 and is billed as the “World’s Toughest Boat Race,” seems a little less crazy with every dip of the paddle.

If I can only get over that sleep deprivation part …

Former landfill – now a small Montopolis park – gets grant for improvements

Ecology Action of Texas has landed a $29,200 grant to renovate a 9.7-acre park on the site of a former landfill in the Montopolis neighborhood in southeast Austin.

The grant, part of $3.38 million in grants to fund 19 recreational trail projects around the state, will be used to renovate the half-mile trail network, establish a new side trail, and to spruce up three trail heads, signages and a picnic area at Circle Acres.

RELATED: Older than Austin, Montopolis opens up its history

Despite its history of destructive uses, the 9.7-acre pocket of urban parkland still holds traces of forest, wetlands and grassland.

The grants were funded through the federal gas tax generated by gasoline purchases for off-road motorcycles and four-wheelers.

Joints frozen in Carbonite? Stretch out on this Han Solo yoga mat

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in “A New Hope.” Lucasfilm Ltd./Contributed

The latest chapter of the Star Wars saga hits movie theaters tonight, and perhaps after you’ve left the theater, yearning a wee bit for Harrison Ford’s early days, you’ll feel like doing a little yoga.

But not on any yoga mat. Not after watching “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” in which Han Solo gallops around the universe alongside a gang of galactic smugglers for two solid hours.

RELATED: ‘Solo’ tries to rebel but sticks to ‘Star Wars’ formula

Onnit sells a Han Solo-themed yoga mat for $64.95. Photo courtesy Onnit

No, you need a special Han Solo- themed mat from Onnit.

Granted, this Han’s muscles really don’t stand out all that much. He’s just 5 millimeters thick and looks more than a tad agonized.

RELATED: Ranking Han Solo’s style over the years

But plop it on the ground, match your hands with his, gaze into that forever frozen in polyurethane rubber face, and maybe a little of Solo’s bad boy charisma will flow through his fingertips and into your soul.

Or not.

Anyway, it’s cool a cool mat, and you can order it here for $64.95.

New ‘mini-boardwalk’ opens beneath Ann Richards-Congress Avenue Bridge

[cmg_anvato video=4402549 autoplay=”true”]

A new “mini-boardwalk” quietly opened this week on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, ahead of schedule and under budget.

The gently curved, 172-foot stretch of elevated trail, on the north side of Lady Bird Lake beneath the Ann Richards-Congress Avenue Bridge, replaces a narrow, decaying wooden structure that stood for more than 40 years. Thursday, as construction workers put finishing touches on handrails and cleared away debris, trail users walked, ran and bicycled across the gleaming new walkway.

Pedestrians use the new trail bridge beneath the Congress Avenue bridge on the Ann and Roy Butler hike-and-bike trail at Lady Bird Lake on Thursday, May 24, 2018, in Austin, TX. AMANDA VOISARD / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

“This is incredible,” said Billy Swarm, 48, an American Airlines employee who lives downtown and was taking his dog GiGi for her daily walk. “It was too small before.”

RELATED: Construction begins on ‘mini-boardwalk’ beneath Congress Avenue

Construction began in March to replace the old wooden bridge, just 6 feet wide in places and with a blind corner that put some trail users on a collision course with one another. The new 14-foot wide concrete and steel structure takes trail users out over the water and eliminates a bottleneck. The privately funded project also includes a viewing platform where people can rest, watch the bats emerge from beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge during summer months, or just take in the sights.

Pedestrians use the new trail bridge beneath the Congress Avenue bridge on the Ann and Roy Butler hike-and-bike trail at Lady Bird Lake on Thursday, May 24, 2018, in Austin, TX. AMANDA VOISARD / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Officials with The Trail Foundation, which spearheaded the project, called it a priority, and work on it wrapped up a week ahead of schedule. The foundation is a non-profit organization that works to maintain and enhance the 10-mile loop around Lady Bird Lake. An official opening ceremony is set for 10:30 a.m. May 31 on the new portion of trail.

The Trail Foundation spearheaded the $2.5-million project. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman


“This new wider, safer bridge and bat-viewing deck has been in the works since we completed the boardwalk project in 2014 and improves a stretch of the trail that hasn’t been touched in 40 years,” said Heidi Anderson, executive director of The Trail Foundation. “The Ann And Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail is the heart and soul of Austin. It’s our gym, it’s our church, it’s where we go for recreation and meditation, exercise and fellowship.”

RELATED: What’s next for the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike trail around Lady Bird Lake? Leaders unveil 15 projects?

Robert F. Smith, 55, founder of Austin-based private equity firm Vista Equity Partners in Austin, donated $1.25 million to kick start the $2.5-million project. The rest of the money came from private donations, according to Trail Foundation officials.

Anderson said the project came in under budget, but said officials did not have an exact figure yet because they are still closing it out. Any money saved on the project will go toward other upcoming projects, announced earlier this year.

The Trail Foundation collaborated with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department on the project. It also worked closely with Bat Conservation International to design the structure so it doesn’t disturb the Mexican free-tailed bats that roost beneath the bridge.

The Butler Trail sees 2.6 million visits a year, according to statistics from the Trail Foundation, and that number is expected to increase as more people move to Austin. The new bridge marks the nonprofit organization’s biggest project since the 1.3-mile boardwalk was installed beneath Interstate 35 in 2014.

Check out these Memorial weekend events at NLand Surf Park, Crux Climbing Center

Looking for some Memorial Day weekend fun? Check out these upcoming events …

NLand Surf Park will hold a Float the Moat event from 1-7 p.m. Saturday. Photo courtesy NLand Surf Park
  • Trade your surfboard for a tube at NLand Surf Park’s Float the Moat event from 1-7 p.m. Saturday. For $15 per hour, you can loll around on a tube while you watch a show that includes belly dancing and live music. Drinking is allowed before (but not during) tubing for ages 21 and up only (not if you plan to surf afterward, though).  The park is located at 4836, E Hwy 71. For more information go here.

Tuesday is date night at Crux Climbing Center, and two climb for $20. Photo by Merrick Ales for Crux


  • Rather climb? Thursday night is date night at Crux Climbing Center. Bring a date and climb two  for $20. (Normal day pass rates are $22 per person.) For more information go here. The climbing gym will also host a “Murph workout” on Monday. This special workout, one of the most famous CrossFit workouts and often celebrated on Memorial Day, was a favorite of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005. Warmup begins at 10:30 a.m., the workout runs from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and a cool down and refreshments will follow. For more information go here.

Meet the youngest athlete in Life Time Tri CapTex: Kaleb Rosenberg, 8

Kaleb Rosenberg will race in his first adult triathlon this Memorial Day – the Life Time Tri CapTex. Family photo

Want a jolt of inspiration? Head downtown to watch the Life Time Tri CapTex, which is expected to draw nearly 3,000 athletes to downtown Austin on Memorial Day.

And if you’re waffling about whether or not to compete, take note. It’s not too late to register.

The 28th annual event starts and finishes at Vic Mathias Shores, 900 West Riverside Drive. Athletes will swim in Lady Bird Lake, bike up Congress Avenue to the Capitol and back, and run along West Riverside Drive and Barton Springs Road.

Sign up at Entry fee is $172 for international distance ($87 collegiate or $247 relay); $140 sprint distance ($215 relay); or $108 super sprint.

Just brace for some heat. The current forecast calls for a low of 70 and high of 98, with no chance of rain. Wear your sunscreen and stay hydrated.

And keep an eye out for the youngest competitor, 8-year-old Kaleb Rosenberg, who will compete in his first sprint distance triathlon along side adults.

We checked in with Kaleb, whose father Josh will also be racing on Monday, to see how he’s feeling. Here’s what he told us, via email:

Joshua and Kaleb Rosenberg will compete at the Life Time Tri CapTex on Monday. Family photo

Have you ever raced a triathlon before?
Yes, last year I did two kids triathlons. For my birthday present last year, my parents took me to Houston to do my first tri. The races went really well, but they were short and I wanted to do something longer to test myself.”

What do you like about triathlons?

“They really push me and they are made up of three sports I like. This may sound crazy, but I really like the transitions. The feeling of crossing the finish line is amazing!”

What’s your plan going into the big race?

“I have never done an open water swim, so I don’t want to go out too hard. I watched a lot of triathlons on TV and I have seen how people win or lose the race on the run, so I want to make sure I’ve got it at the end. Oh, and my dad keeps telling me to hydrate.”

Which part are you best at, and which is hardest?

“I think I am best on the bike and I am really excited because my grandparents bought me a new bike with gears so that I would be able to go all out. The run is definitely the hardest part, but my father convinced me to train by signing me up for the Cap 10K two years in a row. He makes the training fun because we play Pokemon Go on his phone while we are running and try to hatch all my 10K eggs.”

Looking for free fitness classes? We found three new ones

Trail Roots is partnering with The Loop Running Supply to offer a free trail running series this summer. Photo courtesy The Loop Running Supply


A few more to add to the seemingly endless supply of free fitness opportunities around Austin …

  • The Loop Running Supply is partnering with Trail Roots to offer a free summer trail series that kicks off Saturday with a guided run starting from the shop, 115 Sandra Muraida Way, and ending at the Rowing Dock for a cool down on the lake. Short, medium and long distance options will be available. Additional Saturday runs are also scheduled for June 2, July 7 and Aug. 4. Trail Roots will also lead trail runs from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Thursdays from June to August.
Gold’s Gym is offering free workouts for buddies on June 8. Photo courtesy Gold’s
  • Gold’s is celebrating National Best Friends Day on June 8 by offering free workouts for BFFs all day. The event is open to everyone – neither friend has to be a member, they just need to check in at Gold’s to get access to the cardio and strength floor and classes. Participating locations include Bee Caves, 12480 Bee Caves Road; Downtown, 115 East Sixth Street; Highland, 6001 Middle Fiskville Road; Austin North, 9101 Research Boulevard; Austin South, 4404 W. William Cannon Drive; Austin South, 1701 W. Ben White Boulevard; Austin Southeast, 801 E. William Cannon Drive; Westlake, 701 S Capital of Texas Highway; San Marcos, 1180 Thorpe Lane; Anderson Arbor, 13435 North U.S. Highway 183, Suite 102; Cedar Park, 1335 East Whitestone Boulevard; Cypress Creek, 1314 Cypress Creek Road; Georgetown, 1019 West University Avenue, Suite 100; Pflugerville, 21315 North State Highway 130; Hester’s Crossing, 2400 South Interstate Highway 35; North Round Rock, 4201 Sunrise Road; and Techridge, 235 Canyon Ridge Drive.
Free fitness classes are taking place in Republic Square during May. Photo courtesy Downtown Austin Alliance
  • The Downtown Austin Alliance will host free downtown group fitness classes throughout the month of May. All classes will take place from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Republic Square, 422 Guadalupe Street. The sessions are open to everyone, and kid-friendly activities will be available during the classes. Wild Heart Yoga will present a yoga class May 21. Ro Fitness will offer circuit training May 22 and 29. Barre3 will lead a Beyond the Barre class May 16, 23 and 30. Orangetheory Fitness will present strength training May 17, 24 and 31.

Guess who topped Austin on the latest fittest cities in America list?

Runners get their miles in on the Butler Hike and Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin. Photo by Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman

Another day, another ranking of the fittest cities in America.


This time, the American College of Sports Medicine’s American Fitness Index Ranking anoints Arlington, Virginia, as the fittest city in the country. Austin slides in at a rather anemic 42nd place.

The list, compiled in conjunction with the Anthem Foundation, evaluates America’s 100 largest cities using 33 health behaviors, chronic diseases and community infrastructure indicators.

Last year, the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area topped the list. With the twin cities split, Minneapolis now ranks second and St. Paul ranks eighth.

Two Texas cities – Plano and Dallas – ranked above Austin in the list. Oklahoma City pulled up the bootstraps, coming in last place. Also beating us out? Atlanta, Cincinnati, Lincoln, Nebraska, and Pittsburgh.

Take these lists with a grain of salt. I’d say Austin deserves a higher position on the board. Have you scanned Lady Bird Lake for paddlers on the weekend? Ridden a bike on the Greenbelt? Seen groups of runners logging miles? We’ve got plenty of work to do – so does every city in the country – but we deserve better.

The study points out that only 22 percent of Americans meet national physical activity guidelines. It also notes that the average smoking rate was 15 percent, 35 percent reported their mental health was not good in the past 30 days, nearly a third of adults reported eating at least two servings of fruit per day and just 18 percent said they eat three or more servings of vegetables per day. It also said 4.6 percent of people walked or rode a bike to work, a number I find surprisingly high.

To see the entire American Fitness Index, go here.

Overall Rank, Overall Score

1. Arlington, VA 77.7

2. Minneapolis, MN 77.2

3. Washington, D.C. 74.0

4. Madison, WI 72.4

5. Portland, OR 71.6

6. Seattle, WA 71.5

7. Denver, CO 70.2

8. St. Paul, MN 70.2

9. San Jose, CA 69.8

10. Boise, ID 69.2

11. Oakland, CA 68.5

12. Plano, TX 67.9

13. Irvine, CA 67.8

14. San Francisco, CA 67.3

15. Boston, MA 67.1

16. San Diego, CA 66.4

17. Lincoln, NE 65.7

18. Raleigh, NC 62.9

19. Fremont, CA 62.3

20. Atlanta, GA 61.5

21. Anchorage, AK 60.6

22. Aurora, CO 60.5

23. St. Petersburg, FL 60.4

24. Colorado Springs, CO 58.1

25. Miami, FL 57.4

26. Durham, NC 57.2

27. Sacramento, CA 57.1

28. Albuquerque, NM 57.0

29. Cincinnati, OH 57.0

30. Virginia Beach, VA 56.9

31. Dallas, TX 56.7

32. Chicago, IL 56.7

33. Omaha, NE 55.8

34. Milwaukee, WI 55.8

35. Chula Vista, CA 55.3

36. Pittsburgh, PA 55.1

37. Tampa, FL 55.0

38. Orlando, FL 54.8

39. Long Beach, CA 54.8

40. Santa Ana, CA 53.7

41. Anaheim, CA 52.8

42. Austin, TX 52.5

43. Buffalo, NY 52.5

44. Norfolk, VA 51.9

45. New Orleans, LA 51.8

46. Honolulu, HI 51.5

47. Tucson, AZ 51.5

48. Reno, NV 50.0

49. Cleveland, OH 49.2

50. Los Angeles, CA 48.9

51. Garland, TX 48.9

52. New York, NY 48.6

53. Hialeah, FL 48.2

54. Irving, TX 48.1

55. Richmond, VA 47.7

56. Fort Worth, TX 47.6

57. St. Louis, MO 47.4

58. Glendale, AZ 47.3

59. Charlotte, NC 47.2

60. Houston, TX 46.9

61. Scottsdale, AZ 46.9

62. Riverside, CA 45.8

63. Las Vegas, NV 45.1

64. Jacksonville, FL 45.0

65. Nashville, TN 44.2

66. Bakersfield, CA 44.0

67. Baton Rouge, LA 43.4

68. San Antonio, TX 43.4

69. Jersey City, NJ 43.2

70. Lexington, KY 42.9

71. Greensboro, NC 42.8

72. Phoenix, AZ 42.5

73. Henderson, NV 42.4

74. Kansas City, MO 41.5

75. Chesapeake, VA 41.5

76. Chandler, AZ 40.9

77. Corpus Christi, TX 40.6

78. Baltimore, MD 40.5

79. Columbus, OH 40.3

80. El Paso, TX 40.3

81. Mesa, AZ 40.2

82. Philadelphia, PA 39.8

83. Arlington, TX 39.7

84. Fort Wayne, IN 39.2

85. Stockton, CA 38.8

86. Newark, NJ 38.6

87. Lubbock, TX 36.6

88. Memphis, TN 35.5

89. Laredo, TX 34.9

90. Winston-Salem, NC 34.5

91. Tulsa, OK 34.4

92. North Las Vegas, NV 34.0

93. Gilbert, AZ 33.5

94. Fresno, CA 33.0

95. Wichita, KS 32.5

96. Toledo, OH 30.3

97. Detroit, MI 30.0

98. Louisville, KY 27.0

99. Indianapolis, IN 26.9

100. Oklahoma City, OK 26.3