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Thousands keep pace with Austin's weirdness

Heated Keep Austin Weird 'race' includes wine, vodka, pie and ice cream snacks.

Ben Wear
bwear@statesman.com

Mixing 97-degree heat, vodka, beer ice cream and running. Now that's just weird.

By design. The ninth annual Keep Austin Weird 5K , a That-Ain't-Rite of Summer, staggered its strange way across the superheated Lady Bird Lake area early Saturday evening.

About 2,000 people, something between a third and half of them costumed to celebrate Austin's unofficial motto, ran and mostly walked the race. Another thousand or two were on hand for the accompanying festival.

Somebody won. Nobody cared who.

In fact, the race has the unverifiable subtitle as the Slowest 5K in Texas. The main reason: the "fun stops" every few hundred yards, decidedly nontraditional hydration stops that include two places to get Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka , Rex Goliath wine, tattoos, tiny pies and Amy's Ice Creams. On the menu: Mexican vanilla, Belgian chocolate and another vanilla doused with German beer.

Did we mention the heat?

On hand for the race, as it were: the Miami Heat's Not-So-Big Three of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade; Hulk Hogan; assorted hippies; the Spartan cheerleaders from "Saturday Night Live"; two Hooters girls; four M&M's; the Black Swan and her alter ego in white; and the Bride from "Kill Bill."

Brian Fritts , looking gorgeous in a blonde wig, was squeezed into a replica of Uma Thurman's slinky yellow jumpsuit from the Quentin Tarantino movie.

"No, it's not intended for my physique," he noted before the 3.1-mile race, which started at 7 p.m. "I haven't run in three years. This is my marathon."

The NBA trio was actually Susie Gillow, Laura Wheeler and Stephanie Putnam , Texas transplants from Missouri. Instead of Heat, however, their jerseys said "Fail," written in the same font as the Miami logo. (Yes, at least one of them is a big Dallas Mavericks fan.)

Out on the course on West Cesar Chavez Street , the liquor dispensers were confident despite being ignored early as the few serious runners sped doggedly by.

"It's the perfect combination," said Brandon Cason , vice president of Deep Eddy. "What better way to hydrate than a little Deep Eddy?"

Shortly thereafter, the more casual (OK, slower) runners deluged the stand. To the east, the wine stand's nine bottles were gone 25 minutes into the race. Half-jogging is apparently thirsty work.

Wheeler — portraying Bosh in the Fail trio — endorsed the idea of vodka as hydration. "It was actually, like, delightful," she said at race's end. "It kind of gave us a little lift."

bwear@statesman.com, 445-3698