Austin Marathon

Photo Credit: Albert Lee | Daily Texan Staff

This Sunday, 18,000 runners will participate in the 24th annual Austin Marathon — a 26.2-mile footrace around the city — in which some will experience cramps, vomiting and loss of bladder control. 

The unprepared may even suffer more serious consequences.

An injury caused by one half-marathon can put an athlete out for over a year, but these injuries are often preventable. 

“A lot of people have bad notions when it comes to marathons,” said Kyle Higdon, Texas Running Club coach and aerospace engineering graduate student. “Runners will always talk about their injuries, their knees. But, if you train correctly, running is strengthening your muscles and joints.” The benefits of running far outweigh the injuries.”

About half of all runners injure themselves over the course of a year. The knee is the area most at risk for a running injury in all ages and sexes, and the most common knee injury is patellofemoral pain syndrome — sometimes referred to as runner’s knee. 

While runner’s knee is the most common injury, stress fractures are rare and have more serious consequences. Stress fractures are tiny, painful cracks in the bone that account for nearly 15 percent of all running injuries. If an athlete continues to run through the pain, the crack could widen until it becomes a serious fracture in the bone. If this injury happens in the top of the femur — the large bone to which the thigh muscle is attached — a hip replacement may be necessary. 

Robin Merket, a sports medicine doctor at University Health Services, recommends that athletes start training with a run-and-walk program and not increase mileage by more than 10 percent a week.  

“It’s best — especially if you haven’t been a runner — to start very slowly,” Merket said. “I can’t tell you how many college students come in after the marathon and they’ve [only] trained for maybe two weeks.” 

External factors, such as inappropriate running shoes, often lead to greater injury risk. Each foot falls a different way; runners must find shoes that match their gait. Employees at specialty running stores are trained to find the right shoe for every foot.Depending on the quality of the shoe, athletes should switch out their running shoes every 350–500 miles. 

There are certain precautions athletes can take to prime their bodies for a smooth running experience. Recent research indicates dynamic, movement-oriented warm-ups, such as lunges, high knee kicks or jogging, are more effective than stretching in place. 

From experienced marathoners to running newbies, proper preparation and technique are the best ways to prevent injuries at Sunday’s marathon.

Pick of the Pics - June, 2011


This is Mary Kang and Andrew Torrey, your  Summer 2011 Daily Texan photo editor and associate photo editor. Here's a little compilation of our favorite wild art, or photography shot around the University and the world, for the month of June.

Check back at the beginning of every month to see ten of the best pictures from past and current Daily Texan photographers.


Mary Kang & Andrew Torrey

Peter Franklin | Daily Texan Staff

Teenagers illegally dive from the Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island while watching for police who may stop them. 

William Paul Wentzell | Daily Texan Staff

Jian Yang, a Plant Biology graduate student, makes a call on his cell phone outside Wanfu Too restaurant on Barton Springs Road.

Jeffrey McWhorter | Daily Texan Staff

Joey Gutierrez, 14, gets his haircut by Jeremy Lopez, 19, at Booker T. Washington Terraces in East Austin. Lopez, who graduated from nearby Austin Can Academy, hopes to get into cosmetology school to cut hair professionally.


Emily Kinsolving  | Daily Texan Staff

Goetz von Totenburg and Zach Most fight in a medieval style tournament at Patterson Park tennis courts in East Austin.  Von Totenburg and Most  are members of the Society for Creative Anachronism which meets weekly.  Opponents battle until the first hypothetically fatal blow ends the match. 

Jeff Heimsath | Daily Texan Staff

Tourists visiting Austin look through Blanton Museum of Art.

Daniela Trujillo | Daily Texan Staff

A passerby stands beside the East Village Mural on Rosewood Avenue in East Austin.  The mural depicts a group of shoeshiners working together in Austin.  

Danielle Villasana | Daily Texan Staff

Proudly carrying their catch of the day, three young boys follow their mother down the beach. Sayulitans use homemade fishing rods made from Coca-Cola bottles as an inexpensive and efficient way to catch fish right off the shoreline.

Allen Otto | Daily Texan Staff

Jose Gonzalez packs mounted deer heads at The Corner Shoppe for a sale later this week is Fort Worth.

Mary Kang | Daily Texan Staff

Charlotte Ribas, 6, and Helena Ribas, 4, feed the pigeons on Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge while their family was out to watch Austin Marathon and Half Marathon runners.

Andrew Torrey | Daily Texan Staff

Samuel Olivo rides his mule, Mula, on Guadalupe Street. While it is legal to ride a horse or mule on public streets in Austin, Olivo was arrested for a DWI while riding Mula last month.

Nursing/Pre-Med senior Allison Mendez, who is also part of the UT Track and Field, celebrates her half marathon win at the finish line of the 21st annual Austin Livestrong Marathon and Half Marathon. Mendez completed the race i

Photo Credit: Fanny Trang | Daily Texan Staff

Runners from the community came together Sunday to race for cancer research awareness in the annual Livestrong Austin Marathon and Half Marathon.

Livestrong Austin spokesman Jeff Hahn said this year about 12,500 people registered for the half marathon and 5,500 people registered for the full, 26 mile marathon.

This year's full marathon male winner was Edward Kiptum with a time of two hours and 22 minutes and the female winner was Shannon Bixler with a time of three hours and two minutes. The half marathon male winner was Siyabonga Nkonde with a time of one hour and four minutes and the female winner was Allison Mendez, who came in at an hour and 18 minutes.

Hahn said the key is making the community mindful of the efforts surrounding cancer research and participation in the marathon continues to grow after 21 years.

While Hahn said he believes awareness is the number one priority of the marathon, raising financial support is also crucial.

According to Hahn, total fundraising through donations, sponsorships and registration payments is expected to reach up to $50,000.

Each one-mile stretch was sponsored by a participating organization as part of the “26 Miles for 26 Charities” program, providing water and resting areas for runners.

Members of the Boys & Girls Club of Austin set up tables and prepared thousands of water cups for runners during their last leg.

“This is the Boys & Girls Club's second year participating,” said Boys & Girls Club volunteer coordinator Lindsey Wolf. “Even though it was a little hectic, we had a blast and were thrilled to take part again.”

Aside from the Boys & Girls Club, the UT Butler School of Music, Seton Southwest Hospital and 23 other local organizations were represented throughout the race that began and finished downtown.

Government junior Marc Hamlin said participating in his first Livestrong full marathon provided him a challenge he desired, as well as an opportunity to work towards a good cause.

“I started out as an individual fundraiser for my father who just finished prostate proton therapy,” Hamlin said. “While training with a friend of mine we found out his father was also diagnosed with prostate cancer and we chose to run together as Team Bruce since our fathers share the same name.”

Athletes compete in test of speed, strive to attain first-place finishes at 20th annual Austin Marathon

On a morning when the sun didn’t peek out of the cloudy sky until 9:30 a.m., Keith Pierce turned the corner of Congress Avenue onto the final 100-meter stretch of the Austin Marathon.

Pierce, who’s from Cedar Park, won the race for the second year in a row, finishing with a time of 2:29:25, almost nine minutes longer than his 2010 time. Pierce is the only Central Texan to win the full marathon.

The annual Livestrong Austin Marathon, which celebrated its 20th anniversary Sunday, began at 6:30 a.m. for the 18,000-plus participants partaking in the full and half marathons — 26.2 miles and 13.1 miles, respectively.

The marathon, which had representatives from all 50 states and more than 20 countries, has brought in more than $90 million to the local economy since 1992, according to Livestrong.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Joan Benoit Samuelson, the winner of the first Olympic women’s marathon in 1984 and the current record holder for the Boston Marathon, Chicago Marathon and Olympic Marathon, spoke to the runners before the start.

Samuelson completed the half marathon alongside her daughter, Abby, and Austin resident Lance Armstrong. Armstrong finished in an hour and 22 minutes and 53-year-old Samuelson in 1:24:52.

Leffingwell and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, held the first-place banners for each event at the finish line.
In the half marathon, Austin native and repeat winner David Fuentes came in with a time of 1:08:26, 18 seconds slower than his winning time from last year.

“I feel great,” Fuentes said. “My legs are getting a little bit sore, but it’s expected with these kind of hills in Austin. But it’s a great day. Great course. Great fans. Everything is wonderful. I mean Austin — you can’t beat it.”

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Desiree Ficker, also an Austin resident, finished first among women in the full marathon and 21st overall. Ficker clocked a time of 2:50:35, three seconds faster than last year’s two-time winner, Elle Pishny.

Fort Worth native Elizabeth Eder came in 27th overall in the half marathon with a time of 1:21:56, the top women’s time for that race.

In the Paramount Break-a-Leg 5K, two Austinites came out on top: Matthew Kutugata clocked 15:29 to finish first among men and Karen Killeen was the top women’s runner with a time of 19:28.

Courtney Washer completed the wheelchair half marathon in 3:12:05.

When you get over being in shock at how many people are here, you can notice some differences, like accents,” said Matthew Pearson, a marathon runner who was competing in his first race ever. “It really doesn’t matter though. We’re all the same; we’re all trying to finish.”

As 6 a.m. arrives, and while many students lay blissfully unaware or dreaming in their beds, a small group of them wake up and begin preparing for their days.

The preparation begins with tying their shoes, then getting in a quick stretch or warm up. After that, they’re off, sprinting into the brisk morning cold that nips at the body as they start to stretch the muscles that are still asleep.

A 10-mile run, maybe more. Then, it’s back home for a quick shower, a bite to eat, then class, homework, meetings and finally back to bed.

It’s a life that could be mistaken for a NCAA athlete, but it’s actually led by normal students preparing for this weekend’s Austin Marathon.

The race compels people such as kinesiology freshman Alex Weidenheft and economics junior Aaron Nemzer to live slightly different lifestyles.

“You really have to have a love for [running],” Nemzer said. “It is one of those things that can help you feel really good about yourself because of the dedication it takes.”

To say you love running is the easy part. What separates this lifestyle from others is the sacrifice.

“Sleep is what I sacrifice the most,” Weidenheft said. “But along with sleep, there is also the food and time aspect. I have to keep a closer eye on the types of food I take in and how much of it. It’s almost like a full-time job.”

Runners like Weidenheft and Nemzer usually consume a diet full of carbohydrates, fiber, protein, fat and, most importantly, lots and lots of water. The diet is essential for a distance runner because it prevents the body from becoming ill and helps the runner concentrate, recover and perform better.

But, of course, running includes many mental and physical struggles. Nemzer and Weidenheft agreed on the general aspects of training such as paying attention to the way their feet land on the ground and the way their arms move while they run, but their specific techniques differ.

“When training, I try to focus a lot on my breathing. It is when I control my breathing that I can focus on muscle memory,” said Weidenheft, whose half-marathon this weekend is her first competitive race. “The rest is pretty easy.”

Nemzer is aiming for the full marathon with multiple 5ks, 10ks and other races under his belt.

“Other than a quick check of my feet and arms, I mostly just try to stay loose,” he said. “I try to do what feels right and focus a majority on the mental aspect. I get in the habit of talking to myself and occasionally singing to myself in order to keep that pace I want.”

The pair’s race philosophies converged once more when talking about the experience of running. The key, both agreed, is knowing what to expect from the wear and tear of an endurance race.

“Who wouldn’t want experience in this type of running?” Weidenheft said. “I’m really just nervous because I don’t want to disappoint myself.”

Nemzer, as a veteran competitor, is not as worried.

“The first time is always hard,” he said. “You question yourself and get butterflies. It is when you have been there and done it when you can get rid of the butterflies and trust yourself. Knowing you have run the miles before helps you train mentally. That X-factor relaxes you and helps you focus on what is going to push you to the next level.”

No matter the experience, personality or training technique, there is one aspect that remains the same for all runners at this weekend’s marathon — the finish line.