When you stop and think about it, 1978 was a long time ago. The Dallas Cowboys were coming off a victory in Super Bowl XII. Jimmy Connors won the U.S. Open that year, Bjorn Borg won Wimbledon, and Bill Rodgers won the Boston Marathon — the second of his four victories in the race. And riding the wave of the first big running boom, the Statesman Capitol 10,000 was born. Nearly 3,500 joined in the fun, and four decades later, there are a hardy few who have gone on to run in every Cap 10K since.
This year, the 31 of them who are left will enter into what’s informally known as the “400K” club once they complete Sunday’s race.
Kenneth Hausmann, who owns an insurance agency in Austin, remembers the first Cap 10K.
“I was 20 years old and in a ‘jogging’ class at Southwest Texas State,” Hausmann said. “Coach (Henry) Hawkins said that anyone who could run the Cap 10 in 55 minutes or better would get an extra 10 points on the final grade, plus you would earn a (race) T-shirt.
“I thought I would win the race, and I was worried I wouldn’t know which way to go if I was winning.”
Hausmann needn’t have worried. He came in 666th. He stuck with running, though, and became quite fast, eventually recording a top time of 32 minutes, 19 seconds on the original course, which years later was found to be about two-tenths of a mile short before it was remeasured and certified as being 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).
Hausmann realized he was serious about his Cap 10K streak in 1983, the year he had surgery on his Achilles tendon.
“I was going to do it on crutches, but I asked the doctors to cut off the cast a week early so that I could walk the race,” he said. “They took the cast off, and I walked the Cap 10K in close to two hours.
This year, one of Hausmann’s close friends invited him to travel to Maui with him on the friend’s private jet. There was just one problem.
“He said he was leaving on April 23, and I told him I couldn’t make it because I was going to run the Cap 10,” Hausmann said. “Fortunately, my friend is running, too, so we’ll leave after the race.”
Hausmann has placed in the top five of his age group many times, including a second-place finish in the 55 to 59 group in 2015.
“I’m 59 right now, so if I hold on, I’m pretty sure I can win my age group,” he said. “Eventually I’d like to be the last person to run every one.”
Former Austinite Charles Scheibe, who now lives in Denver but has yet to miss a Cap 10K, has no illusions about topping his age group Sunday.
The 60 to 64 division has proved to be quite competitive. In 2016, Bill Van Den Brandt won it in 46:15, while Scheibe, who’s 62, finished in 58:55 to place 68th out of 319 entrants in the group. No worries, though: Scheibe, the chief financial officer of the Colorado state treasury department, just likes competing in the Cap 10K.
“I had only run one 10K, and in 1978 I was visiting Austin for a few days from San Antonio,” Scheibe recalled. “I heard they were having a 10K on Sunday, and I figured I was too late. So I called the Statesman, and Donya Ginest, the race director, told me to meet her on race morning by a big oak tree near the Capitol, and she’d have a number for me.
“That one started at the Capitol and went onto the trails (by Lady Bird Lake). We were running single file with spectators on both sides yelling. The trails were so crowded I saw some runners slip into the water!”
Scheibe didn’t think much about his expanding race streak until 2002.
“When the Capitol 10,000 celebrated its 25th anniversary — that’s the first time someone noticed that there were some of us who had done 25 in a row,” he said.
Scheibe moved to Denver in 2005, making the Cap 10K a true distance race for him.
“It was a little bit of a challenge (to return every year), but I love Austin,” he said. “The Mexican food, Lady Bird Lake, the greenbelt — I love coming back! Austin’s always going to be where I end up. The Cap 10K was the race that got me addicted to racing and running.”
Debbie Norman, a longtime friend of Hausmann’s, joins Gerre Boardman as the only women never to have missed a Cap 10K.
“I was working at the IRS back then (in 1978),” said Norman, 63, “and I used to run around the parking lot during my breaks. I wanted to get in shape.”
Norman did get in shape, and when she read about an upcoming race called the Capitol 10,000, she decided to jump in feet first.
“I was 23 when I ran my first one,” she said. “It was amazing. It still is. I remember thinking there were so many people in that first one. As the years went by, I used to always try to better my time — and I did get down to 50 minutes or so — but now that I’m older, I just want to be a part of it.
“It’s so amazing to be a part of huge group of people that gather to exercise and have fun.”
This year, Norman is coming off back surgery as she prepares to join the “400K club” Sunday.
“I scheduled the surgery early enough so I’d have time to heal and run or at least walk the Cap 10,” she said. “It’s a really big part of my life. I won’t miss it for anything.”
STATESMAN CAPITOL 10,000
8 a.m. Sunday
Start: Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge
Finish: Auditorium Shores