Austin holds special place in runners' hearts
Brom Hoban, Central Texas Running
The LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon has an international reputation that this year will draw runners from every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and 22 countries.
Race director John Conley says registration has been closed at 6,000 runners for the Feb. 20 marathon, and at 12,000 for the half marathon .
Ryan Lamppa - a researcher for Running USA, an organization dedicated to development of the U.S. running industry - says these events are sold out because "there's a marathon mania going on in this country. Running a marathon has become an item on life's `check-off' list." And: "People choose which marathon they run based in a large part on the destination city, and Austin is a great destination."
According to Lamppa's research, there were about 600 active marathons in the country during 2010, some large like in Austin, some with just a few finishers. "Last year there were close to 40 new marathons ," he says . "Over the past 10 years, there's been a marathon boom. Races all across the country sell out. Boston sold out in eight hours last year. In 2010, there were more than half a million marathon finishers, compared to the early '80s when there were 120,000" per year.
Gene Gurkoff, a lawyer in New York City and a 2:59 marathoner, is looking forward to returning to Austin. "I love the music scene, and I love the food in Austin. Plus, the weather here in New York has been pretty challenging," says Gurkoff.
"I look for marathons that showcase the best a state has to offer, and Austin seems to be a place that has a lot of character," says Gurkoff, who has run 30 marathons. " I'm looking forward to seeing how that character is expressed on marathon day. It's a great way to see what a place is about."
"I know quite a few people who've run Austin, and have just raved about what a beautiful course it is," says Jeff Bockhorn, a 2:43 marathoner from St. Louis . " Austin is on my `bucket list' of marathons, but then again so is Antarctica. Right now, Austin is a little bit more affordable."
Children's Advocacy Center Valentines 5K, 9 a.m. at Landa Park in New Braunfels. See www.athleteguild.com .
• Looking ahead
Race with Advocare 5K, Feb. 27. Registration open at www.racewithadvocare.com .
Moe's Better Half Marathon, March 6. Registration open at www.sanmarcosrunners.org .