“Keep Austin Weird” is the unofficial slogan for this fun city. It has spawned some pretty hilarious parodies including: “Keep College Station Normal,” “Keep Round Rock Mildly Unusual,” “Keep Lubbock Flat,” and “Keep Houston Under Construction.” You gotta love Texans. In Austin, there’s always something to do, see and experience. I was here for the race director’s conference and to speak at the race expo. This year’s event, like last year’s, is a totally “Green Race.” And it was evident everywhere. The marathon sold out well in advance and the half was near full – a good thing to see in our current economy. A funny thing happpend during the marathon – a vidoographer caught a mysterious fireball/meteor/ufo while filming the first few minutes of the race. (Check youtube.com) Strange things happen during the Austin Marathon and Half and this wasn’t the first time: In 2005, some deer got caught up in the start corrals and made for a surreal experience not just for the runners but the poor deer. I wonder what they have in store for next year’s race?
I did make time to experience some of Austin’s more well known as well as lesser known venues including Barton Springs (famous) and Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon (infamous). The former, actually four natural springs, is located on the grounds of Zilker Park. The largest spring, Main Barton Spring always maintains a temperature of about 70 degrees regardless of time of year. I did some laps there one morning before the expo opened up. Our time in Austin culminated with an excursion to Ginny’s, a tiny, dark honky tonk known for its eclectic mix of locals who mostly hang out back in broken lawnchairs when the interior fills to capacity, $2 Lonestars, free chili dogs, the kinds of bands (Texas swing mostly) that just make you want to dance! And Chicken Sh_t Bingo every Sunday night. As luck would have it, it was Sunday night when our posse including local Genny (who had never even heard of the place) and five of us from four corners of the continent made our visit. While I left the building before the insanity ensued, this is how CSB works: A live chicken, this time an orange hen named Sissy, is placed in a large cage atop a piece of plywood marked with a grid. Ginny sells tickets for each of the 54 squares, then she let the chicken strut around the cage whiel honky tonk plays in the background. When the bird relieves itself, you’ve got a winner. PETA hasn’t complained and the bird seems to be liking the attention. We followed this little bit of craziness with an incredible Indian dinner at the Clay Pit in downtown Austin.