Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Austin Marathon-Not Just a Fireball in the Sky

The 2009 Austin Marathon last weekend was a big success! The new course was a hilly challenge and one that I was really happy to have run well. ( Finished in 3:49:01) Austin is a great host city and a city that is just made for runners to have a good time in. The running trails and running clubs are incredible and very well supported.

This was billed as the best "Green Marathon" in the U.S., maybe the only one. I would have to agree that the race staff and city have worked well together to recycle everything but the runners. And that's what worries me. Is being "Green" enough to make runners come back? It was really a no frills marathon. Although I was glad that the Goodie Bag was not filled with 10 lbs. of junk that you never read, I was a little disappointed that the packet pick-up at the Expo was handled like a cattle pen for runners. At least when we went, the line was very long and for runners, being on your feet for an extended period of time is not a good game plan. Compared to other marathons the Austin Marathon would grade low in my book for packet pick-up. After that, getting your tee shirt and other things went well. The Expo was fairly small but vendors were very friendly and willing to help sell whatever product they were displaying.

The pasta dinner the night before is one of he best in the country. Speakers Dick Beardsley and Bart Yasso provided great motivation as always. They are fantastic representatives of the running community and world famous authors. A big thanks for being there goes out to them! Overall, Race Director John Conley did an outstanding job with all aspects of the marathon and half-marathon. There are always exceptions and there is no way to please everybody.

The actual race itself seemed to run smooth from a runner's perspective. The surface of the course was very good, the volunteers at the aid station were outstanding (I always wish I could thank each of them individually). Representatives from the Fire, Police, and Medical community were everywhere and always willing to help with any aspect of the race. Another big thanks to all of them! Finishing hills at the 22 and 24 mile markers were intense but added a great amount of satisfaction once you were up and over. The finish line area was exciting and electric as it always is. Talk about a runner's rush. Wow! It was great! The crowds along the way were very supportive and vocal. That is really helpful as you progress in your race.

With all of that said wouldn't you know it that what steals the show is some bright falling light from the sky. Not the runners who just finished their first marathon. Or the runners that had run all of the Austin Marathons. Or the runners that PR'd and maybe qualified for Boston. Or the runners that struggled through injury, cramping, or just plain feeling like "Why did I ever do this?". The news didn't show that each and every participant either in the half or full marathon had trained and prepared for this race for months, and given up countless hours to make their dream come true. Well, maybe it was just Tinker Bell, but CNN's coverage of the Austin Marathon Fireball can be found in several places on YouTube. If you want to see it you can check it out. For more important information, check out the results of the thousands of people that finished the race at the Austin Marathon website. Congratulations to all who participated. Remember what John Bingham, author and inspirational speaker, says to all runners," The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."

Forward we go! May your roads and trails be happy and safe!

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