"Wait, what was that, I ask? My son responds again, "its 107 degrees according to that thermometer at the starting line". I moan and try to figure out WHY I have agreed to participate with him in the Keep Austin Weird 5K (and costume contest with each entrant issued a pair of "Elvis" sunglasses) at 6pm in the afternoon in the middle of a brutal Texas summer... The event is a benefit for the RunTex Carrozza Foundation, a nonprofit group that provides running shoes, coaching and race entry fees for people with low incomes. Paul Carrozza is also the owner of RunTex, the absolute coolest running store on the planet located here in Austin Texas!
We start off together and my son says he wants to go on ahead and I quickly agree mumbling something to the effect that I will catch up later (oh sure...) After two miles I am sweating like a politician in church and just about to say to "heck with it" when who should come running towards me? My son who has doubled back and is laughing as he tells me he wanted to be sure I was okay. I can barely see from the sweat pouring into my eyes and I am gasping for air in the torrid heat but I manage to say, I'm good! I struggle to keep moving and try and not pass out while slipping into that spacey zone that comes before heat exhaustion!
I am thinking all the while that we only have a mile to go and if I can keep from barfing up a lung I just might make it! He then tells me to "smile" for the photographers by the roadside and I do laugh when he catches a scoop of Amy's Ice Cream tossed from the Water/Ice Cream Stop by volunteers to anyone who picked up a cup a few yards earlier! (I told you this was weird!)
Keep Austin Weird is an axiom chosen by a group that promotes small local businesses in Austin, Texas.The Austin Independent Business Alliance picked the phrase from a remark made by a librarian at Austin Community College in a phone call to a local radio station. Red Wassenich and his wife, Karen Pavelka, placed the slogan on bumper stickers, distributing them free to businesses in Austin. "Keep Austin Weird" was later trademarked by http://www.outhousedesigns.com/ and used to market T-shirts, hats, and mugs.
The slogan is a reference to the many small businesses, events, functions and personalities in Austin which give the city its unique cultural identity. The Keep Austin Weird website describes itself as a "collaborative fission of coordinated individualism" and it gets somewhat weirder from there, learn more at: http://www.keepaustinweird.com/ . The whole concept is really just a celebration of all the things that that make Austin so unique and enjoyable. Austin Mayor Will Wynn supports the foundation and the group focusing on supporting local business! I read this quote by him recently, "The city is so weird, he joked, that his parents bought a house in Round Rock. But what exactly makes Austin weird? Wynn said it is the high quality of life in a growing city that feels small. "We don't feel nearly as large . . . because we have a unique quality of life," Wynn said. And I could not agree more, every day brings some new and interesting weirdness!
We finally cross the finish line behind a crowd that includes two girls rowing in a cardboard canoe, people running in various costumes, a scuba diver and a collection of Dr. Seuss characters. A short time later, after we manage to cool off and refuel with a few quarts of ice water, some Amy's Ice Cream and a half dozen slices of Mangia Pizza, we wander over to the Free stage to watch some great local music.
Keep Austin Weird is really about the rich diversity & eclectic ideas of our community and the melting pot nature of all the things that TRULY make Austin such a wonderful place to live. I love Austin and have lived here a long time and I even enjoy the fact that the Weird "slogan" sometimes irritates those who do not fully understand the meaning. Of course, there are always party poopers in every crowd but in Austin they are vastly outnumbered!