In its 36th year, the Statesman Capitol 10,000 could be headed toward the fastest times in its lengthy history.
The Cap 10K’s new race director, John Conley, has set the stage for the men’s record to fall, which has stood since 2007. And if conditions are just right for Sunday’s 6.2-mile race, which is expected to draw about 20,000 entrants, the city 10K mark could go down as well.
If either record does fall, it likely will be one of the current record-holders who brings it down.
Kenyan Eric Chirchir holds the city 10K mark, which he set by winning the 2004 IBM Uptown Classic 10K in 29 minutes, 3 seconds. On Sunday, he will be on the starting line for the Cap 10 along with fellow Kenyan Daniel Kipkoech. Conley brought both runners to Austin in an effort to raise the race’s profile, and his company, Conley Sports, is defraying their travel costs.
“My hope is that this is a prelude to elite running returning to Austin,” Conley said. “There are a lot of moving parts there, but you have to start somewhere. The Cap 10 has such a terrific reputation nationally, and if you look at all the other 10Ks of its size, they all have elite fields.”
Six months ago, Chirchir, a 28-year-old who lives and trains in New Jersey, ran 29:15 on a windy day to win the 2012 IBM 10K. He remarked post-race that he had been shooting for the city record, but was hampered by the fact he was running alone out front with no one to push him.
That should not be a problem on Sunday.
In November, Kipkoech, 26, topped the field in the Vulcan 10K in Birmingham, Ala., finishing in 29:20, and he will be a threat to win the Cap 10. He’s been training at high altitude in Colorado Springs, Colo., and said he’s in shape to run a 28:20 10K. Austin’s David Fuentes figures to be a top-three finisher as well. He’s fresh off a speedy 5K victory (14:33) at the Rice Victor Lopez Classic track meet two weeks ago.
The Cap 10K record of 29:42 was set by Nicodemus Malakwen in 2007.
“It will be great to start my season with Capitol 10K,” said Chirchir, who has a 10K best of 28:03. “John Conley has been so friendly to me since 2004, and he invited me again to race in Austin. I’m targeting the course record and maybe the city record.”
Neither Chirchir nor Kipkoech has run the Cap 10 before, and Fuentes, who knows the course inside out, has doubts that the city 10K record will fall.
“Eric is pretty fast in general. He’ll bring his A-game, and he has the city record,” said Fuentes, 26, a former St. Edward’s runner. “And Daniel is just as fast. They know what they are doing.
“Because the course is tough, it’s more of a race where you go for the win, rather than a record.”
Said Conley: “I think the course record is low-hanging fruit. So I think they have a really good shot.”
But breaking the city record will require a 4:39-per-mile pace, and sub-29 minute road races are pretty rare in Texas. “I can count on one hand the number of times it’s happened in the past few years,” Conley said.
The drama likely will begin at six miles.
“Once they get to the (South First Street) bridge, if they’ve got either record in the can, that’s where you’re going to see someone go for it,” Conley said. “That’s where the race is going to start. It will be a gunfight.”
Austin’s road-race records
10K;Natalie Nalepa Linam;33:43
Statesman Capitol 10,000
8 a.m. Sunday
Start: Barton Springs Road and South Congress Avenue
Finish: Auditorium Shores
How to register: In-person registration available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez St.