Not every race in the Austin Marathon’s 22-year history has had ideal weather, but the race has a well-deserved reputation as having some of the best marathoning weather in the country.
Typically, marathon Sunday weather in Austin is clear, dry, and cool. Unfortunately the 2014 event was anything but that.
The temps—60 degrees at the start—were manageable but as the morning fog burned off, the soaring humidity made it abysmal for the 17,000 runners in the combined fields of the marathon and half marathon.
Nearly everyone in the field suffered, including the elite runners who are usually immune to such conditions. Even Austin Marathon winner Joseph Mutinda of Kenya—who ran a brilliant 2:14:17—paid dearly. Mutinda, who placed third in the Austin Marathon in 2008, ran a gutty, bold race, but cramped and collapsed right at the finish.
As he entered the final miles, the 39-year-old was on pace to break the course record. On a different day he might have earned that $5,000 bonus, but not on this one. He staved off fellow training partner Kipkoech Ruto by a mere 30 seconds for the win.
The women’s marathon was a bit less dramatic. Marnie Staehly, who came up from San Antonio with her own support group (Marnie’s Minions) had a 2:55 PR and was clearly the class of the field. Staehly, who has run the Austin Half Marathon before, knew the course, especially the early hills, and opted for a conservative strategy.
Austin Fit Magazine Distance Challenge winners fared well in the overall results. Erik Stanley, the tall, talented former UT runner who has won four of the five previous AFMDC series races, toughed it out for a sixth win with a time of 2:28:33 in what was only his second road marathon. Jen Harney captured third overall with a PR of 3:02:58.
The Masters division titles went to Anne Clemons (3:38 marathon) and Jim Cleary (2:58 marathon).
In the Half Track, Mandi Makarski turned in a stellar 1:29 to claim her overall crown. On the men’s side, Josh Slocum cruised to victory with a 1:23.
Masters runner Larry Bright not only captured his title by 20 minutes, but he was also second overall in the Half Track AFMDC. Female Masters winner Audrey Herold entered the race with just a two-minute lead in the overall standings but left no doubt with an impressive 1:40, some four minutes faster than the second place runner.
The 2013-2014 AFMDC awards and celebration party is set for March 6. More information on time and location can be found on the event website austindistancechallenge.com.
You can look for photos and profiles of the AFMDC overall winners on austinfitmagazine.com as well as on the Austin Fit Magazine Facebook page.