Running with Austin’s Best

By Ashley Erickson – April 2, 2012
Photography by Brian Fitzsimmons

It’s no secret that Austin is one fit city. The American College of Sports Medicine ranked Austin as one of the top 20 fittest cities in the country in its 2011 American Fitness Index, and the number of professional athletes training in Austin attests to our notoriety for living healthy, active lifestyles. If you’re a runner, it’s quite likely that you’ve spotted the well-known Lance Armstrong or 3M Half Marathon winner Kelly Williamson blazing past you on one of their training runs or during a race. It’s also not uncommon to get a case of running envy when Kyle Miller of Hill Country Running Company laps you at the track. We can’t all be professional runners, it’s true, but the good news is we can train like one. Here are three pros who call Austin home, and these are their favorite places to lace up their shoes, kick up the dust, and train for those record-setting performances.

USA Olympian Leo Manzano represented our country in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics in Berlin. This March marked the second annual Manzano Mile, an all-comers track meet hosted at The Texas School for the Deaf, where runners of all ages can run the mile and mile relay events. When not racing or organizing events, Manzano can be found hitting the trails, prepping for a speed workout, or enjoying the peacefulness of a long run.


Favorite Long Run Location

Bastrop, off County Road 153, one hour outside of Austin (averages 10-13 mile long runs)

“I like this place for a long run because it is a quiet dirt road; there is no traffic, and not that many people. This is definitely a great place to enjoy a nice quiet long run.”

Favorite Speed Workout Location

Austin High Track, 1715 W. Cesar Chavez

“I like this place for a speed session because I can do all my warm-up runs on the trail [at Lady Bird Lake] and come back and do my workout on the track. After the workout, I can hop back on the trail and do my cool-down. I get the best of both worlds: nice trail and great location to workout on the track.”

Allison Macsas is coming off of her incredible performance in Houston at the Olympic Marathon Time Trials, where she hit a new personal record in the marathon at 02:40:47. When not training and racing as a member of TeamRogue Elite, she works and coaches at Rogue Running, located on E. 5th Street downtown. You may have also seen Macsas cross the finish line as the first female finisher of the 2011 Statesman Capitol 10K, the largest 10K in Texas. Macsas’ race of choice, however, is the marathon, as she is known for her love of long runs—in fact, the longer, the better.

Favorite Long Run Location

Loop starting and ending at Barton Springs, located in Zilker Park (averages 20-26 mile long runs)

“It's tough to pick a favorite long run spot, as my long runs typically take me all over as I run 20-26 miles for a typical long run. But most of the year, I prefer to start at Barton Springs, head west on Lake Austin Boulevard, hit the hills on Scenic Drive/Pecos Street, run up Shoal Creek Boulevard, and eventually cruise back down Lamar Boulevard or through campus, finishing with a plunge in the springs. When it's cold, I do the same without the plunge!”

Favorite Speed Workout Location

Barton Springs (located in Zilker Park)

“My favorite place for a speed workout is also at Barton Springs. The road that runs through the park is 1.2 miles and has every quarter mile marked on the pavement. It has a good mix of uphill and downhill, so it'll make you work but will also let you fly!”

Ironman Michael Lovato splits his time between Boulder and Austin. This two-time Ironman Champion and three-time Ironman World Champion has raced in Kona at the Ironman World Championships a total of 12 times and took third this year at Agrosuper Ironman 70.3 Pucón in Chile. He is lucky enough to get to share the sport with his wife, triathlete Amanda Lovato. Each year, they pack up their dogs and make the drive from Colorado to Texas to train in our beautiful city. When he isn’t training, racing, or cheering on Amanda, Lovato can often be found behind the scenes, announcing and doing commentary for various North American Ironman events.

Favorite Long Run Location

Loop starting at Jack & Adam’s Bicycles, 1210 Barton Springs Road (averages 18-20 mile long runs)

“I love starting a long run down at Jack & Adam's. From there, I do a couple miles on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake. I end up on Lake Austin Boulevard, angle over to Exposition Boulevard, and do a loop up around Pecos Street, Scenic Drive, and back to Lake Austin Boulevard. I rejoin the trail and complete the seven- or ten-mile loop, depending on how long the run is. For my 18- to 20-milers, this is about perfect, as I get variety of scenery as well as terrain. For me, to combine hills, asphalt, dirt, and flats is the best way to go.”

Favorite Speed Work Location

Austin High Track, 1715 W. Cesar Chavez

“For speed work, I love to run on the Austin High Track, with the option of inserting some tempo/intervals down on the trail. To me, there really is nothing quite like a track workout, and Austin High fits the bill being close enough to Jack & Adam’s for me to warm up there. Plus, if you get creative with the session, you can mix in those "real world" efforts down on the lake and then speed it up on the track.” afm

Ashley Erickson is a freelance writer living in Austin. Erickson is the former Texas Regional Editor of Competitor Magazine, and she continues to contribute to a variety of local print magazines and online blogs. When she isn't writing, Erickson trains with Rogue Running and is a member of the Big Pistachio Racing Team. You can find her online at or on Twitter as @aaericks.


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