Austinites run to benefit parks in Cap10K

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The first weekend of April is running in at full speed as thousands prepare for the biggest race in Texas, the Statesman Capitol 10K, which will take place Sunday, April 8 at 8 a.m.

Coordinating the Cap10K and post-race Finish Line Festival since 1978, The Austin American-Statesman selects a race beneficiary biannually. This year, the proceeds will go to the Austin Parks Foundation.

Jeff Simecek has been the race director since 2016. One of his key responsibilities is to head up selection of a beneficiary.

“I wanted to select an organization that would resonate with people who use our parks and trails,” Simicek said. “People feel really good about giving back to an organization they actually use.”

The Austin Parks Foundation uses donated funds to coordinate volunteer programs to beautify the city’s green spaces. This year’s Cap10k marks the Austin Parks Foundation’s second year as beneficiary.

Events Coordinator for the Austin Parks Foundation, Adrienne Dever, said that the race’s donation from last year has already been put to great use in the Austin community.

“We’ve been able to leverage funds from the Cap10K to grow our Adopt-A-Park program to 100 park adoption groups in 2017,” Dever said. “This allowed us to expand our volunteer initiatives and the resources we provide to parks, trails and green spaces throughout the city.”

Involvement with the Cap10K last year also exposed the more than 20,000 racegoers to the Austin Parks Foundation. Dever said this exposure helps participants realize that the money raised will be put to use in their own neighborhoods and the trails they train on.

Simicek said the participants are his motivation to put on a great Cap10K. His goal is for racegoers to enjoy themselves so much that they continue to bring their families in the future.

The race aims to involve the Austin community as much as possible, with a roster of local businesses as sponsors and local organizations as beneficiaries.

Cap10K’s previous beneficiary, The Trail Foundation, works to enhance and maintain Austin’s parks and trails. As development manager of TTF, Kelly Grajeda worked closely with the race, representing the organization. Grajeda said that the money donated last year has already been utilized in various green spaces around Austin.

“The first $25,000 from Cap10K went towards Butler trail around Lady Bird Lake,” Grajeda said. “The next donation went into the Auditorium Shores project, which repaired public restrooms, water fountains and plants around the trail.”

While the Cap10K is the biggest in Texas, it attracts few participants from the 40 acres.

“This race is such a great opportunity for college kids to get involved,” Grajeda said. “The trails and parks give so much to the community, it’s important to give back to them.”

Dever said that she encourages all UT students to get involved in the Cap10K and the Austin Parks Foundation, as they have all likely enjoyed an Austin park at some point.

“Our work is made possible by our dedicated volunteer workforce,” Dever said. “We encourage any UT student who wants to get involved to do it.”

The race will kick off this Sunday with over 20,000 participants coming out to support their parks, trails and community. Simicek is hopeful that the event will go off without a hitch and maintain the essence of the community it is built around.

“It’s all about keeping the race as local as we can and keeping the flavor of why we started the event,” Simicek said. “At the end of the day, we want people to have such a good time that they sign up for next year’s race.”