For the past four decades, thousands of Austin runners have snaked through downtown Austin streets, some displaying a little Austin weirdness, others just reveling in the balmy weather, at the Statesman Capitol 10,000.
Yep, the race began the same year the Boston Celtics drafted Larry Bird and “Space Invaders” first appeared in video game arcades.
Today the race stands as an annual rite of spring, and runners flood Congress Avenue, west toward MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) and along Cesar Chavez Street, serenaded along the way by bands and the occasional resident handing out doughnuts or frying up bacon from the front yard.
This year’s race is set for April 23.
And what a year to line up at the start — the 40th edition of the biggest 10K running race in Texas.
Here’s what you need to know.
The Cap 10K, presented by Baylor Scott & White Health, ranks as the largest 10K race in Texas and the seventh largest in the nation. That first year, 3,400 runners signed up — some sipping cans of beer and wearing street clothes as they rambled over the course. Registration peaked in 1987, when more than 28,300 entered. As more races popped up, though, numbers generally declined — until recent years. A whopping 20,527 people entered in 2016, and registration is on track to beat that number this year.
They’ve done ’em all…
Thirty-one dedicated runners have participated in every Cap 10K since the race’s inception. Keep an eye out for Mark Adams, William Bard, Gerre Boardman, James Braddock, Jeff Brower, Fred Fuchs, Kenneth Hausmann, Wayne Huffman, Oscar Jackson Jr., Danny Krause, Bruce Latour, Art Lavalle, Ken Lerner, Don Lujan, Mike McShane, Eddie Mixon, James Nance, Debbie Norman, Steve Parker, Tinsley Penick, Bill Pfaff, Doug Phelan, Brad Price, David Ray, Leon Rosen, Charles Scheibe, James Smith, Patrick Smith, Richard Wiggans, Bruce Wiland and Donnie Williamson.
Who’s the fastest?
Natalie Nalepa holds the course record on a USA Track & Field certified course, with a time of 33:43, set in 1997. Eric ChirChir holds the men’s course record with a 29:24, set in 2013. Last year, Austin Bussing won the men’s race in 30 minutes 46 seconds; Allison Mendez won the women’s in 36:02.
That’s Dash the ’Dillo
As resident cartoonist at the Austin American-Statesman in 1978, Ben Sargent was asked to create a mascot for the race. The first drawing he came up with showed an armadillo in running attire descending the front steps of the Capitol, but he and Linda Anthony, at that time a reporter and prime mover behind the race idea, decided to omit the background scenery and let ’Dillo stand alone.
“He may have been reproduced in more different ways than any other drawing I’ve done, everything from a 3-D version in the race trophy to being painted in the street at the starting line,” Sargent says. “Once my fellow Austin cartoonists, Dan Shefelman, and I were walking out the front door of the Del Coronado Hotel in San Diego, and here came a runner down the street in his ’Dillo shirt from the Cap 10K, and I knew he was a truly universal presence.”
The adorable, armored critter has been trotting across T-shirts and race memorabilia ever since, although he took a temporary break a few years ago. We call him Dash. Look for him on race day.
Check out the Expo
Pick up your race packet and peruse more than 70 vendor booths at the pre-race expo at the Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road. Fit City columnist Pam LeBlanc and race ambassador and Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano will be on hand Friday for a meet and greet. Stop by the Cap 10K booth at the expo to buy a silver ’Dillo charm ($25), gold ’Dillo charm ($450) or stainless steel Cap 10K keychain ($15) to remember your run. Try the new Floatride running shoe from Reebok, the race’s footwear sponsor. Expo hours are noon to 7 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. On-site parking costs $5 if you stay less than two hours.
Fuel up with some pasta! Present your race bib April 21-23 at Mandola’s Italian Kitchen, Brick Oven, Olive & June, the Backspace, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Zax, Regal Ravioli and Cantine Italian Cafe & Bar to get a discount on your meal.
Turn it up
Austin bands Tomar & the FCs, a five-piece soul band, and Rochelle & the Sidewinders, a high-energy blues rock band, will perform at the finish line festival. Local bands will play along the route, too. This year’s lineup includes the Tiarra Girls, Little Green Bunnies, Audioroad, Austin Thaalam Percussion, Drum for Good, Annie & Kate and World Gone Mad.
Hits from the past
Listen for the top hits of the year between 1978 and 2017. Race organizers will tune them in at the expo and at the start line on race morning.
On your mark
Runners will line up in timed start corrals according to their predicted finish time when they registered for the race. That should keep slow runners out of the fast lane and fast runners out of the slow lane.
A slight tweak
This year’s start line has moved about 600 yards north on the Congress Avenue Bridge to give racers a better view of the masses as the race begins and swoops up Congress Avenue. The 6.2-mile course has been recertified, too, and there’s a new jog in the route near the Capitol.
Dress for success
For an added kick, wear a costume for the race. You won’t be alone, and you could win a prize. The 2017 costume contest includes categories for #SpiritOfTexas (dress as your favorite icon, landmark or Texan), #centipede (at least four people), #Armadillo, #WildInThePark (show off your wild side!), #Hero (super and otherwise) and #BestOfShow (get creative). Costume entries will be posted on the Statesman Cap 10K’s official page on Facebook. Like the page to vote and submit, and be sure to use the hashtag #Cap10KContest, plus your contest category hashtag, when you enter.
Photographers will be on course taking pictures, which you can purchase after the race. Just make sure your race number is visible.
Finish line fun
After the race, let the sweat dry while you sip beer from race sponsor Oskar Blues Brewery and bloody marys (21 and older, free while quantities last) at the post-race party. Head to the drone area to get a free airborne video of you and your besties. The snippet will be emailed to you later, and it’s all free to runners. Other highlights? An autograph wall where you can put your John Hancock — and thoughts — on commemorative signs, plus a special Kids Zone, complete with bounce houses, slides and an obstacle course.
You can still register
Entry fee for this year’s race is $50 for adults or $35 for kids, and $1 of every registration goes to the Austin Parks Foundation. The Statesman will match additional donations, up to a total of $10,000, to the nonprofit organization, which works to improve and maintain parks in the Austin area. You can sign up online at Cap10K.com or in person at the expo.