Decker Challenge at COTA – January 2, 2022

The 43rd Decker Challenge was the third in-person race of the 2021-2022 Austin Distance Challenge (ADC), following the Daisy 10K and the 10-mile Run For The Water. Historically the Decker Challenge is a half marathon run around the Travis County Expo Center near Decker Lake Road, and features a lovely hill near mile 11. Due to several of the challenging issues this year, the race was moved in space and time (see what I did there Ramzi?) to from mid December 2021 to January 2, 2022, and to the F1 track at COTA just outside of Austin.

The race distance was also modified to fit the track. Participants could choose distances of 3.4, 6.8 or 10.2 miles – one, two of three laps around. ADC half-track participants (like me) were to run the 6.8 distance – twice around the track. As can be seen in the map and the photo below, the start line gives us runners a brief moment to contemplate running up the 150 foot Turn 1 (called “Big Red”). It wasn’t too bad…the first time.

Toward Hill 1, Decker Challenge 2022 at COTA

In typical Decker and Austin winter weather fashion, a bitter (for Austin) cold front blew through that evening, providing Sunday with sub-freezing temps and a lovely wind chill. For reference in the photo below, the race started at 8:30.

The temperature wasn’t bad, but the wind coming to the top of a hill on the race track was stout. It blew my Packers hat off one time; luckily the gent behind me caught it. My wife questioned my sanity for wearing shorts in such weather, and suggested I use it as motivation to finish faster. I was not the only one running without leggings – there were some people who wore much less, and my hat was off to them – literally.

Decker Challenge at COTA
Turn 15 – 1st or 2nd lap?

Except for the wind, it was a crystal clear day, and pretty cool to run on the F1 track. I do not believe I was going the average speed of an F1 car (well, maybe in my mind), but I did manage a respectable 7:49 per mile pace – good for an overall time of 53:14 and 15th place out of 62 runners of the 6.8 mile distance. For those interested, race results can be found here.

Finish line blowing in the wind at Decker Challenge
Decker Challenge Finish Line – panoramic

For the Austin Distance Challenge, after three in-person races I’m in sixth place (out of 19) in the Masters Male classification (at 60, I can now comfortably complain that the Masters category starts at 40. Who let those young ‘uns in?) and ninth (out of 26) overall. Two more races (both half-marathons) to make up some time in my age groups. The next race is the 3M Half on January 23, with the last race of this set the Austin Half on February 20.

The current 2021-2022 Austin Distance Challenge standings, updated with the Decker Challenge, can be found here.

Looking toward 150 foot hill at turn 1 – panoramic

As always, and especially in this very cold weather – many thanks to the race organizers and volunteers. A special thanks to Emily who helped me with a time tracking / finish issue.

Turn 1

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