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Where’s Everybody Running?

We’re an active lot around here. And, now that spring has arrived, we’re lacing up the trainers and hitting the trails. But you don’t have to run alone. There are dozens of runs, walks and races in Central Texas where you can challenge yourself, make some new friends and contribute to your community.

We’ve selected a few of the highlights in the Austin running scene — races that include a place for everyone (regardless of how well, or even if, they run), races that challenge the most confident athletes, runs that raise funds for the good guys, and races that are as dirty as they can possibly be. There are even a few runs that are so weird, they could only take place in Austin.

Take a look at the wild world of runs we have available in Central Texas. We’ll see you on the trail.


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And We’re Off!

Around here, running shoes may be as common as cowboy boots. And now that spring breezes have begun to blow, folks are lacing up their sneakers, donning their shorts and grabbing their water bottles in preparation for the many runs, walks and races that wind around the Hill Country this time of year.

It’s not Austin if it’s not Weird

Does your face turn red as you run? At the Ready. Set. RED! Cross City Challenge (March 5), the alteration in your coloration might be from hot sauce … or kayaking … or even karaoke! This race combines an obstacle course with a scavenger hunt and “dares” you to collect more points than any other team by completing all sorts of stunts.

The Keep Austin Weird Fest and 5K (June 25) benefits the Austin Parks Foundation, and is probably the only 5K in the world that includes Amy’s Ice Cream stops along the route. The race itself may be entirely inconsequential — the most valuable prize goes to the runner with the best costume.

The Moonlight Margarita Run (June 16), benefiting The Trail Foundation, brings two of Austin’s favorite pastimes together — getting fit and indulging in sinfully good Tex-Mex. Since margaritas are only served after the race, it’s possible that the average speed of the racers is somewhat higher than for runners in other competitions….

Obstacles Shmobstacles

For some folks, one foot in front of the other gets a little redundant. So race organizers have begun making courses more difficult for those who want a little more adventure. The SHAPE Diva Dash (April 9) includes all kinds of obstacles that challenge ladies with feats of strength and speed. But, in typical diva fashion, they’re keeping the details a secret. This race will benefit GENaustin, a project that encourages confidence and self-esteem in young women.

The Austin Sports and Social Club hosts the Austin 10K Plus (May 15), benefiting LIVESTRONG. To complete this race, you’ll need to conquer the balance beam, rope wall, cylinder crawl, water barrier, hurdles, climbs — and whatever else they throw at you.

The PFIVE55 in Pflugerville (held on the fifth of each month, April through October) combines a 500m swim and 5K run, and benefits Big Brothers Big Sisters and American Youthworks.

It’s not the Dirt that Hurts

For the truly hard core, a new species of race has emerged in recent years. The “mud run” phenomenon has oozed its way into Central Texas, and if you like to get down and dirty, you’ll have several opportunities.

Charge your way through barbed wire, tunnels, rivers of water, acres of mud and even a little fire (just to keep you on your toes) — the Hell Run (April 30) takes place in Dripping Springs and benefits the LIVESTRONG Foundation.

Want to step back into the Old West? The Muddy Outlaw Dash and Chainring Challenge (March 5) will put you through your paces on foot or mountainbike as you navigate obstacles in pursuit of Billy the Kid, Belle Starr and Longhair Jim. Once you’ve earned your sheriff’s badge, take a break with some beer and Texas BBQ. The race takes place in Johnson City, and benefits CASA of Travis County.

Have Fun as you Raise Funds

Nonprofit organizations of every stripe host runs and walks this time of year, giving you the chance to contribute to the community as you charge toward the finish line. The Statesman Capitol 10K is the largest 10K in Texas, and fifth largest in the nation. This 10K has a place for every member of the family, including those that get around by wheelchair and stroller. If you’re not the fastest, that’s just fine — you could still win the H-E-B Costume Contest! The Cap 10K benefits Austin Children’s Shelter and Swim Safe.

The Austin CROP Hunger Walk (March 5-6) raises money to assist people in need throughout the world, providing food, medical care and disaster relief. Over in San Saba, the Never Surrender 5K Walk and Run (March 19) raises money for the American Cancer Society.