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Former Longhorn Bussing chases Run for the Water victory

On Sunday, Austin Bussing will tackle a 10-mile course at Run for the Water that’s roughly five times the distance of his usual event, the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The challenge doesn’t faze him.

“The steeplechase is really a strength-based event,” said Bussing, a former Texas Longhorn who trains locally with Rogue Athletic Club. “You need a lot of aerobic capacity for it. We basically train like we’re training for the half marathon.”

A year ago, Bussing, 25, finished second at Run for the Water, which typically attracts a highly competitive field. His time of 50 minutes, 39 seconds put him one minute behind the men’s champion, David Fuentes, who ran a scorching 4:58-per-mile pace.

Fuentes, a three-time winner of Run for the Water, won’t return this year to defend his title, leaving Bussing with hope of moving up a spot.

Bussing likely will be battling a former Longhorns distance-running teammate, Colin Smith, whom he narrowly outran last year at Run for the Water.

Since graduating from Texas in 2014 with a master’s degree in community and regional planning, Bussing has been racking up some impressive finishes. A year ago, he won the TXU Energy Houston Turkey Trot 5K, posting an impressive time of 14:35, and he finished second at The Woodlands Half Marathon this past February (1:07:26). In June, he set a personal best of 8:38.77 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase while competing at the USA Track & Field championships in Eugene, Ore. His time placed him 12th out of 14 entrants in the final.

“I actually had my best year yet on the track,” said Bussing, adding that his result at the national championship meet “made me pretty happy.”

Bussing works at the Rogue Running retail store in downtown Austin, and he also helps out as an assistant cross country coach at Southwestern University in Georgetown. Coached by Rogue’s owner, Steve Sisson, Bussing runs 90 to 100 miles a week, he said.

“This is my third year for Run for the Water, and my third year competing post-collegiately,” Bussing said. “(The race) has become an early race-season benchmark. It comes at a time of year when you’re ramping up your training, and it helps you get used to the pain and fatigue of race pace.”

High Five Events acquires Conley Sports: The company that produces some of Austin’s biggest races, including the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon, is hanging up its running shorts – for now.

High Five Events, an event production company owned and operated by Dan Carroll, Stacy Keese and Jack Murray, this week acquired Conley Sports Productions from John and Stacey Conley. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We’re extremely excited,” Keese said. “We feel fortunate they’re entrusting us with their baby.”

Conley served as race director of the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon for 19 years, and spent 20 years working with the 3M Half Marathon. Combined, more than 20,000 runners participated in the races this year, which brought an estimated $25 million into the Austin economy in 2015.

Conley Sports Productions will still put on the events in 2016, with High Five Events standing in the wings. Runners shouldn’t notice any changes for now, both Conley and representatives from High Five Events said.

— Pam LeBlanc

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