Tuesday, July 1, 2008

06/28/08: Keep Austin Weird 5K

Three young women, barely old enough to legally suck down their Zeigenbocks, were robbed in broad twilight at the Keep Austin Weird 5K when their clever convict costumes, based on the chain-gang escapees from “O Brother, Where Art Thou”, went unrewarded and unrecognized despite the fact that they ran the race handcuffed together. It is a deep, dark disappointment that I didn’t get to see how they negotiated the water stops.

The costumes were all about keeping the weird in the Keep Austin Weird 5K; costumes that were recognized included a magician and his bunny, two girls sharing one canoe, beer keg guy, baa baa sheeple, and the All American Girls, whose main attractions were the pinwheels attached to their bosoms. Oh, and the guy whose costume made it look like he was riding on the back of an old lady; that one was pretty good actually but it was also distracting as I couldn’t help but try to deconstruct the illusion.

The race itself was the most forgettable part of the evening; the temperature was in the high nineties when I started and it was still in the high nineties when I finished. Starting the race at 6:00 on an early summer evening, they must be as intent on keeping Austin sweaty as they are in keeping Austin weird. I tried to start slow and I sort of succeeded – my time for the first mile wasn’t very fast but I expended a lot of energy working for a mediocre time. The race continued in that vein; I wound up finishing in 27:36 and was just glad to be done.

I wasn’t very enthusiastic about the food in the runner’s area after the race but that may have been due to the heat. I ate half a slice of pizza and picked at a small bowl of salad but I didn’t feel like eating. I also drank a bottle of warm fruit punch and one of cold water; liquids, particularly cold liquids, were much more appealing. I also picked up my race t-shirt; it was cool and came in an ecofriendly shopping bag.

After going off to change into dry clothes, I wandered into the main festival area where various food and drink, including beer, were available for purchase. The beer options were Bud and Bud Light in cans, Zeigenbock on tap, and Independence, a local brew, available in an unknown format because I never saw any. I went for Zeigenbock, which is Anheuser Busch’s attempt to compete with Shiner, and it was tasty and cold. I spilled a little, though, when the Checker Cab guy tossed me one of his promo discs and I had to sky to make the grab. Later I had two more beers and a couple of mini-cheeseburgers while rocking out to What Made Milwaukee Famous, watching the costume contest awards presentation, and folk-rocking out to Alejandro Escovedo.

The race and festival go a mostly thumbs up with one caveat: it’s pricey. I paid forty bucks at late registration; had I signed up in advance (before June 26th) it would have been $35. On an individual basis it may not seem like you’re getting your money’s worth but considering the venue (Auditorium Shores along Town Lake) and the entertainment, it doesn’t seem like they’re just pocketing the money, either. A free beer or two would be nice, though.

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