February 18, 2008

Austin Marathon

What a wonderful time I had at 2008 AT&T Austin Marathon! My wife, Jill has a very active role as a volunteer for the marathon. She is in charge of most VIP and Hospitality related events, like the pasta dinner, the VIP reception, the VIP room at the Finish Line. This year she also acted at the "Mother Hen" for the Hansons Brooks Distance Project. I acted as her second hand to help her in any aspect during the week.

Jill and I were to pick up Keith Hanson and his family along with six of their top distance runners including Olympian Brian Sell. Their arrival time was 9:30 Tuesday evening but because of bad weather in Detroit, their actual arrival time was around 1:30 in the morning. I got them to their apartments where they were going to be spending a week around 2:30, needless to say they were all very tired!

Wednesday evening Jill and I took them all out to a good ole fashioned Texas barbecue for supper and we all really enjoyed eating and visiting!

Thursday, all the guys from Hanson's team went and visited with the children at the Dell's Children's Hospital. Thursday night was a dinner for all the invited elite runners from around the world, lots of fun!

Friday was when my marathon activities officially began. Friday afternoon, I spent part of my time at the Marathon & Beyond booth chatting with folks and signing books and New Balance cards. At 3, I gave a talk at the expo and then opened it up for questions, that's always very enjoyable!

Friday night was the VIP reception at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The guests included, invited elite runners, sponsors, running legends like Steve Jones and Henry Rono and various other VIP’s. Marcus Grunewald, the Race Director for the Dallas White Rock Marathon, surprised me with a cake to celebrate my 11th year of sobriety! How incredibly special that was!

Saturday was a busy day at the expo. I spoke at the Race Directors Conference they had in conjunction with the marathon.

Saturday night was the Pasta Dinner where there was a short program and introductions of some of the elite runners.

Sunday morning was race day and what a beautiful day it was! Clear skies and temperatures in the mid 40's. I picked up the Hanson runners at 5:00 and had them to the starting area by 5:30 am for the 7 am start of the race.

Jill was busy getting everything ready in the VIP room which was right at the finish line up in the second floor of the Stephen F. Austin Hotel. Part of the cost to be in the VIP room went for food and drinks for everyone and the rest of the proceeds went to the Dick Beardsley Foundation!

My job that morning was the race announcer for FOX TV and talk about a great place to watch a race from, I was sitting in the back of the lead vehicle! Announcing for the race was lots of fun.The marathon and half marathon started together under an incredible shower of fireworks that started the race. Right away, Olympian Brian Sell went right to the front and had no problems winning the half marathon in a little over 1:04, the next 5 runners were all from the Hansons Brooks Distance Project!

In the marathon what a great race it was! There was a group of about 6 runners until Wesley Ochoro made a hard surge up a hill at the nine mile point and really broke things open. At one point he had almost a two minute lead, but by around 19 miles he started to slow and then for the first time in almost 10 miles we could start to see the pack moving up on him.

Three runners, Mike Sayenco, Jacob Frey, and Joseph Mutinda caught Ochoro at twenty-three miles and went flying by, the race for the finish was now on! For the next two miles Sayenco from Team USA was pushing the pace trying to break Frey also from the USA and Mutinda from Team Kenya. We all thought that Mutinda now with a mile to go would throw in a big surge and break the Americans, but Frey and Sayenco were up for the challenge.

It came down to a sprint finish the last 600 meters with Jacob Frey winning with a time of 2:20:38 followed by Mike Sayenco in 2:20:42, followed in his hip pocket was Joseph Mutinda in 2:20:43, WOW! What a race!!!

After the race I spent the day at the VIP room greeting and chatting with folks until that ended at 2 pm. A very busy but fun week!

A huge thank you goes out to race directors John and Stacey Conley for inviting me to the 2008 AT&T Austin Marathon and for all the wonderful volunteers that helped make this event such a great one!

A huge thank you goes to my wife Jill who let me be her sidekick and helped make my race week that much more enjoyable!

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