Schlotzsky’s Bun Run takes off on Sunday

Gear up your buns, folks.

Runners take off at the start of the Schlotzsky's Bun Run in this archive photo by Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman.
Runners take off at the start of the Schlotzsky’s Bun Run in this archive photo by Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman.

This year’s Schlotzsky’s Bun Run, where teams can earn honors for Austin’s Fittest Buns, Austin’s Fastest Buns, Austin’s Best Lookin’ Buns and Austin’s Most Generous Buns, is set for Sunday at The Domain.

Last year, the race, long a harbinger of springtime in Austin, shifted to a fall date. It also moved from downtown to the Domain, and announced proceeds would benefit JDRF, formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

The race stays at the Domain this year, and again benefits JDRF, which works to improve lives and find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

A young runner takes a glance at the competition during the Kid's K in this archive photo by Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman.
A young runner takes a glance at the competition during the Kid’s K in this archive photo by Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman.

Besides the timed 5K run, with cash prizes for the top male and female winners, there’s a Kids K race for children 12 and under and a team challenge. Dogs can get in on the action too, running alongside their owners to compete for the title of Fastest Dog in Austin.

Race organizers describe the course as flat and fast.

The kids race starts at 8 a.m. and the 5K starts at 8:30 a.m. at 11401 Century Oaks Terrace.

Participants get chips, hot sauce and goodie bags. A special Kid’s Korral with fun activities including face painting and special treats is also planned.

To register or for information about packet pick up and how to get VIB (Very Important Bun) status, go here.  http://www.bunrun.com.

Since 2012, Schlotzsky’s has raised more than $500,000 for JDRF.

How does Texas rank on latest list of most obese states?

Obesity rates are climbing in Texas. Illustration by Rick Steinhauser
Obesity rates are climbing in Texas. Illustration by Rick Steinhauser

Nearly a third of adult Texans are obese, and the Lone Star State ranks 11th on a list released this week of the most obese states in the country.

Not good, people.

Arkansas wins the dubious honors of the most overweight state, with 35.9 percent of adults considered obese. Colorado has the lowest rate of obesity – 21.3 percent – and even that’s astonishing.

Consider that obesity rates are at or above 30 percent in 22 states and not a single state has an obesity rate below 21 percent.

In 1980, no state had a rate above 15 percent. In 1991, no state had a rate over 20 percent.

Now, more than 30 percent of adults, nearly 17 percent of 2 to 19-year-olds and more than 8 percent of children ages 2 to 5 are obese, according to State of Obesity (previously titled “F as in Fat”), a project of the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Here in Texas, our waistlines have been gradually increasing in recent years. We ranked 19th fattest with a rate of 29.2 percent in 2013. In 2014 we edged up to 15th fattest with a 30.9 percent rate of obesity.

Today we’re at 31.9 percent. Read more about our statistics here.

Also of note? Twenty-three of the 25 states with the highest rates of obesity are in the south and midwest. Rates are at or above 30 percent in 42 states for blacks, 30 states for Latinos and 13 states for whites.

Obesity can lead to health problems including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The study found that diabetes rates increased in eight states – Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Here’s the complete list:

1. Arkansas (35.9)

2. West Virginia (35.7)

3. Mississippi (35.5)

4. Louisiana (34.9)

5. Alabama (33.5)

6. Oklahoma (33.0)

7. Indiana (32.7)

8. Ohio (32.6)

9. North Dakota (32.2)

10. South Carolina (32.1)

11. Texas (31.9)

12. Kentucky (31.6)

13. Kansas (31.3)

14. (tie) Tennessee (31.2) and Wisconsin (31.2)

16. Iowa (30.9)

17. (tie) Delaware (30.7) and Michigan (30.7)

19. Georgia (30.5)

20. (tie) Missouri (30.2) and Nebraska (30.2) and Pennsylvania (30.2)

23. South Dakota (29.8)

24. (tie) Alaska (29.7) and North Carolina (29.7)

26. Maryland (29.6)

27. Wyoming (29.5)

28. Illinois (29.3)

29. (tie) Arizona (28.9) and Idaho (28.9)

31. Virginia (28.5)

32. New Mexico (28.4)

33. Maine (28.2)

34. Oregon (27.9)

35. Nevada (27.7)

36. Minnesota (27.6)

37. New Hampshire (27.4)

38. Washington (27.3)

39. (tie) New York (27.0) and Rhode Island (27.0)

41. New Jersey (26.9)

42. Montana (26.4)

43. Connecticut (26.3)

44. Florida (26.2)

45. Utah (25.7)

46. Vermont (24.8)

47. California (24.7)

48. Massachusetts (23.3)

49. Hawaii (22.1)

50. District of Columbia (21.7)

51. Colorado (21.3).

Share your bike commute photos using #AustinCommutes

Pam LeBlanc has been pedaling to work for seven or eight years. Photo by Chris LeBlanc
Pam LeBlanc has been pedaling to work for seven or eight years. Photo by Chris LeBlanc

This city just looks different from the seat of a bicycle.
You see the people, the slow change in the skyline as buildings sprout beneath cranes. The birds, the squirrels, the dogs.
The quirky stuff, too. The family of metal goats that lives in front of a house on Shoal Creek Boulevard. The cyclist with a pair of dachshunds tucked into her backpack. The two-wheeled laundry delivery service.
I’ve been riding a bike to work most days for seven or eight years. It saves me gas money, it keeps me from fidgeting in rush hour traffic and it gives me a little bonus exercise.
The sun blazes, the rain pelts, the wind blows and the humidity rises. Football games unfold at House Park. Skateboards clatter at the park, volleyballs fly on sand courts. Cars honk, owls hoot, bells ring.
What do you see on your commute today?
Share your photos with us. We’ll feature some of our favorites online and in print. Just tag them #AustinCommutes.

Austin trick skiing champion Kay Nichols has died of cancer

Kay Nichols was a champion trick water skier. She died Saturday. Mark Matson For American Statesman
Kay Nichols was a champion trick water skier. She died Saturday. Mark Matson For American Statesman

Austin trick water skier Kay Nichols has died.

Nichols, 63, died of cancer Sept. 12.

Over the years, she won at least a dozen national titles and one world title while twirling across the water on her short, wide ski.

“She was an Austin water ski icon for sure,” said family friend Dick Gilliam. “Kay was one of the most genuine and nicest people I’ve ever known.”

Nichols grew up in Michigan, where she began competing when she was 7. By time she turned 21, though, she’d had enough of competitive water skiing. She gave it up, married a fellow skier (whom she met while trying to get a sinking speedboat to shore) and moved to Texas.

Then, when she was 28, with one baby in tow and pregnant with a second, she went to watch her husband David Nichols, a radiologist, compete in a water ski tournament. It took just one glimpse of the female competitors to persuade her to start skiing again.

In trick skiing, some of the tricks are done while holding the tow handle with the hands; other tricks are done with one foot attached to the tow rope by a collar, or “bear trap.” Someone in the boat operates a safety pin that is released when the skier falls. It takes a lot of trust; if the pin isn’t released quickly, the skier could be dragged through the water by her foot.

Nichols skied in her first national championships in 1981, at age 29. She won her first title there in 1987.

In 2006 she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She had surgery and underwent therapy and was back on the water competing a few months later.

“When you go into these competitions, you don’t think about winning, ” she said at the time. “It’s 90 percent mental, and if you think about it, you’ll fall.”

Austin Distance Challenge kicks off Sept. 27 with Run Free Texas 8K

Austin Distance Challenge participants will collect pieces of this magnet at each of the six races in the series.
Austin Distance Challenge participants will collect pieces of this magnet at each of the six races in the series.

Want to conquer this year’s Austin Distance Challenge, hosted by the Austin Runners Club? Better sign up soon.

The series of six local races leads up to the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon in February. The races increase in distance as the series progresses, making it a natural component of many runners’ training programs.

Participants sign up for the series (separate from signing up for each race), registering for either the full or half track. Awards are given for overall, masters and age groups. Registration for the series is $55 here.

The first race is the Run Free Texas 8K on Sept. 27.

Proceeds will benefit The Trail Foundation, which protects and enhances the Ann and Roy Butler hike and bike trail around Lady Bird Lake.

That cool circle at the top of this post? It’s a collection of magnets. Distance Challenge participants get the center piece at packet pickup, and collect the surrounding pieces after they complete each race.

They also get a long-sleeved tech running shirt, a one-year membership in Austin Runners Club, use of the Austin Distance Challenge hospitality tent at the finish of each race and entry into door prize drawings at each race. Most importantly, everyone who completes the series gets an Austin Distance Challenge running jacket.

Here’s the race lineup:

  1. Run Free Texas 8K – Sept. 27
  2. Run For The Water 10 mile – Nov. 1
  3. Decker Challenge Half Marathon – Dec. 6
  4. Rogue Distance Festival 30K and 10K – Jan. 10, 2016
  5. 3M Half Marathon – Jan. 24, 2016
  6. Austin Marathon & Half Marathon – Feb. 14, 2016

This Sunday, go play in the street at VIVA! Streets Festival

For five hours this Sunday, a 1-mile stretch of East Sixth Street will be closed to motor traffic for the VIVA! Streets Festival. Photo courtesy VIVA! Streets
For five hours this Sunday, a 1-mile stretch of East Sixth Street will be closed to motor traffic for the VIVA! Streets Festival. Photo courtesy VIVA! Streets

This Sunday, go play in the street.

From noon to 5 p.m., a 1-mile stretch of East Sixth Street between Interstate 35 and Robert T. Martinez Jr. Street will be blocked to motor traffic for the fourth annual VIVA! Streets festival.

For five glorious hours, bicyclists and pedestrians will take over the road. Space will clear for ballroom dancing, yoga, zumba, soccer, basketball, giant chess, hula hooping, petanque and tennis. There will be an obstacle course, gardening classes, anti-bullying workshops, martial arts demonstrations, cane fishing, bird walks, a kids drum circle, a learn-to-ride bike course, chalk art, bike polo and more. SkyCandy will offer special aerial performances and classes.

Organizers of VIVA! Streets hope to build communities by encouraging active living. It’s part of a global movement of open streets events, or cyclovias. San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth, El Paso and Brownsville all host similar events.

“As a business owner on the route, it’s great to hear about the participation and enthusiasm from my fellow neighbors,” Paola Barrerra of Buenos Aires Café Este said in a press release.

This year’s sponsors include Humana, TxDOT, SkyCandy, AARP, Texas Gas Service, CapMetro, Central Texas Mobility Authority/Metropia, the City of Austin Office of Sustainability, TopGolf, Instacart and Austin’s Yellow Bike Project. The event is co-produced by the City of Austin and BikeTexas.

For more information go here.

Guess what Austin race made Outside Magazine’ s list of 10 Most Iconic Races in the US?

Racers begin the 3M Half Marathon on Jan. 25, 2015. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Racers begin the 3M Half Marathon on Jan. 25, 2015. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Quick, name the 10 most iconic running races in the United States. Outside Magazine did, and Austin’s 3M Half Marathon made the list.

That puts it in pretty rarefied air, considering the other races on the list – the New York City Marathon, Bay to Breakers, the Boston Marathon, the Chicago Marathon, the Carlsbad 5000, the Fifth Avenue Mile, the Badwater Ultramarathon, the Western States 100 and the Peachtree Road Race.

Here’s what the magazine said: “More under-the-radar than any other race on this list, Austin’s 3M is a favorite among those looking to run their fastest half marathon. The point-to-point course from north Austin to the finish in front of the Texas State Capitol includes an average elevation drop of 41 feet per mile, according to race director John Conley.”

Conley, head of Conley Sports, which puts on the 3M Half Marathon as well as the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon, was caught happily off guard by the race’s inclusion.

“To be in the same company as Bay to Breakers, the Chicago Marathon and the Badwater Ultramarathon, yeah, it’s amazing. It’s really humbling,” he said this morning. “The 3M Half Marathon is one of those events that is easy to overlook because we don’t have world record holders, there’s not a lot of external glitz to it. But it’s a screaming fast downhill course that when people run it, they can’t stop talking about it.”

Participation in the race has been on the upswing the last two years, and Conley expects about 7,500 to register this year.

Registration is open here. Entry fee is $95 until Nov. 20, when it increases.

“People are discovering it,” he says. “It’s not unreasonable to expect that in a year or two it’ll be a 10,000-person race.”

The race, established in 1995, is set for Jan. 24 next year.

To see Outside Magazine’s entire list of “Most Iconic Races in the US,” go here. https://shar.es/1vUmFz

Athletes to climb Mt. Bonnell 44 times on Sept. 11 anniversary

The public is invited to join Mike O'Hara as he climbs Mount Bonnell 44 times on Sept. 11.
The public is invited to join Mike O’Hara as he climbs Mount Bonnell 44 times on Sept. 11.

The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City each rose 110 stories from the ground.

Ninety-nine steps lead to the top of Mount Bonnell.\

Participants will climb the equivalent of both Twin Towers.
Participants will climb the equivalent of both Twin Towers.

The way Austin trainer Mike O’Hara sees it, each trip to the top of the Austin landmark is the equivalent of climbing five stories. That means it would take 44 trips up the stairs to climb the equivalent of both Twin Towers.

This Friday, O’Hara, who owns Bigger Faster Stronger Training in Manchaca, will charge up the steps in honor of those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

He’s inviting the public to join him.

The group will meet at the top of Mount Bonnell at 7 a.m., before starting the fifth annual Memorial Mt. Climb. They’ll pause for a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the exact time the plane hit the first tower in 2001.

There’s no entry fee, but participants are encouraged to make a donation to Wings for Warriors, a non-profit organization that supports military service members wounded in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. To donate, go here.

If doing it solo sounds too tough – and O’Hara says your calf muscles will be screaming before it’s done – you can gather some friends and form a team and divide the workout.

O’Hara comes from a military family. His brother served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was wounded there.

The event starts at 7 a.m. Friday at Mount Bonnell.
The event starts at 7 a.m. Friday at Mount Bonnell.

“I have a heavy heart for military and first responders,” he says. “This is a way to get the community together and push each other. It’s not easy.”

In the last few years, local firefighters have participated, wearing nearly 50 pounds of fire gear while they climb. O’Hara wears the cumbersome gear, too. The struggle of carrying it up and down the hill is his way of paying tribute.

Mount Bonnell is located at 3800 Mount Bonnell Road.

For more information about Bigger Faster Stronger Training, go here.