Bring on the heat, the margaritas and the Mexican food the Moonlight Margarita Run and Gala kicks off at 8 p.m. Thursday.

The night 5K run, followed by a party on the grounds of the American Legion Hall near Lady Bird Lake, raises money for The Trail Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to maintain and improve the trail around the lake.

Their motto this year? "There are plenty of chances to run on the trail, but only one to run for it."

I've done this run before. It was so hot the jalapeños on the enchiladas at the post-race party seemed cool by comparison. Hydrate well and prepare to sweat.

The race starts at "the rock," that big boulder near the north end of the pedestrian bridge beneath MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) at the Johnson Creek Trailhead. The out-and-back course finishes on Veterans Drive, within staggering distance of the post-race bash. Luke Olson will provide live music.

Proceeds from the race each year are used to take care of our beloved trail. Last year the event netted $59,000.

This year, it will help fund the upcoming $475,000 renovation of the very trailhead where the race starts — the busiest access point on the 10-mile crushed granite pathway. Work should start this fall and take about six months, says Susan Rankin, executive director of The Trail Foundation. The trail will remain open throughout construction.

Register for the Moonlight Margarita Run and Gala online at www.thetrailfoundation.org . Entry fee is $35 for the run, $65 for the party or $95 for both. A VIP table with party passes for 10 costs $800.

Packet pickup is 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, at RunTex, 422 W. Riverside Drive, or 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at American Legion Hall, 2201 Veterans Drive.

The Trail Foundation has been busy with other projects, too.

Crews are midway through a redesign and landscaping of the space inside the spiral ramp at the north end of the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge. When complete, the area will include casual seating and plant-covered retaining walls.

"That whole space will have life in it instead of just Bermuda grass," Rankin says.

A majority of the funding for the improvements came from the friends and family of Barry S. Gillingwater, a longtime fixture in the Austin real estate business who died in April 2009.

The project, designed by landscape architect Christine Ten Eyck, is separate from the city's extension of the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge, which should be complete by late summer.

The Trail Foundation also is sponsoring a lake cleanup from 9 to 11 a.m. Aug. 14. Volunteers will gather trash from the shoreline and from donated kayaks, canoes and paddleboards. (Or bring your own.)

Prizes will be awarded for the most unusual objects found during the cleanup. Volunteers must preregister at www.thetrailfoundation.org.

Cool hands running

On the way to hatching the new BEX Runner, Brett Warner froze a lot of chicken eggs.

Warner was trying to come up with a product that runners could carry in their hands to help them keep cool.

But chicken eggs don't stay chilly very long, and they're hard to hold onto, so most of the orbs he froze got tossed in the river during early development of their new product, a strap-on, palm-sized device designed to keep runners cool when they exercise in the heat.

Warner, founder of Austin-based Cool Palms, and his wife, Anna Ercius, the company's vice president of sports science and product testing, eventually replaced the egg with a small, freezable gel pack held in place by a soft, adjustable strap. The device helps your hands work like a radiator, cooling warm blood at the surface of the palm before it is delivered back to your body's core.

The cooling lets you work out longer, tolerate a heavier workload and helps you recover, the inventors say.

"It's not rocket science," Warner says. "People take advantage of this concept when they stick their feet in the water after a run or when they kick their leg out from underneath the comforter in their bed."

Warner and Ercius, who has a master's degree in public health, are hoping for clinical studies this fall. In her own survey of two dozen runners, half of whom used the BEX Runner and half who didn't, Ercius found that those who wore the product reported fewer symptoms of heat stress.

In 100-degree heat, it works for about 45 minutes, Warner says. In 75-degree heat, it works for more than an hour.

That advantage doesn't come cheap. The product sells for $49.99 at www.BEX runner.com .

Luckily, you only need one. There's no advantage to wearing one on each palm, Warner and Ercius say.

The device comes in men's and women's sizes.

Building canoe camp

The Texas River School, a nonprofit organization that introduces low-income youths to outdoor experiences such as paddling and camping, has received a $18,491 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority to help build a canoe campground.

The money will be used to install a source for solar electric power, a water harvesting system, an environmentally friendly toilet, security fences and a learning pavilion at a camping site on the Colorado River downstream of Austin.

"This grant will enable us to move forward with detailed plans to provide a canoe camping outdoor experience for the children and their families," said Joe Kendall, executive director of the Texas River School. "This is a kick-start the River Camp has needed to help keep our kids and rivers healthy."

pleblanc@statesman.com; 445-3994