Think you know your pace? ‘Call Your Shot’ at Decker Challenge

The Decker Challenge features a few notorious hills. Photo courtesy Austin Runners Club

The Decker Challenge features a few notorious hills. Photo courtesy Austin Runners Club

Think you know your running pace?
How about on a hilly course, at a race that always seems to coincide with cold, wet weather?

This year’s Decker Challenge, set for Dec. 6, will include a Call Your Shots challenge, in which runners predict their finish time at the race. The athletes who come closest win a pair of New Balance shoes.

“It comes from an old running coach of mine,” says Iram Leon, president of the Austin Runners Club, which is putting on the event. “Realistically speaking, at any given race, your odds of winning are pretty low. The coach was big about goal setting. His phrase was, ‘If you aim for nothing, you hit it every time.'”

To fire his runners up and get them focused, the coach made them predict their times. Whoever missed it by the most had to buy lunch for whomever came closest.

“It’s the same kind of thing here,” Leon says.

This year's race will feature a Call Your Shots challenge, in which runners predict their finish time. Photo courtesy Austin Runners Club

This year’s race will feature a Call Your Shots challenge, in which runners predict their finish time. Photo courtesy Austin Runners Club

Runners who register for the challenge, which is free with race entry, predict their time down to the second. The two closest males and females win spiffy new shoes. In case of a tie, the win will go to the runner with the most even pace throughout the run.

On a course like Decker, that’ll be tough to do. Clocks will provide split times at the 5K, 10K and 10-mile marks. Watches help too, of course.

Decker is the third race of the Distance Challenge, which culminates in February with the Austin Marathon & Half Marathon. It’s also known for having a course that’s tougher than the marathon. This year’s race will include free race photos. And did we mention the free beer at the end?

“You’ve got to sign up for the hard stuff sometimes,” Leon says. “If you only sign up for easy stuff, are you really getting your money’s worth?”

About 1,000 runners are expected for the event, which starts at 8 a.m. at the Travis County Expo Center, 7311 Decker Lane. A 5K run to benefit Brown Santa will start at 8:15 a.m. Entry fee for the half marathon is $89 ($79 for members of Austin Runners Club) here.

Runners strike out on a hilly course during typically cold and wet weather at the 2009 Decker Challenge. Photo by Jake North

Runners strike out on a hilly course during typically cold and wet weather at the 2009 Decker Challenge. Photo by Jake North

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