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Austin is a great city for many reasons- a plethora of parks and outdoor activities, live music on every corner, tacos, and an incredible running community. Our city loves running so much that you can practically count on being able to run some kind of race on any given weekend throughout the year. What makes Austin unique compared to other running cities? The Austin Distance Challenge and training groups that help you dare the distance. This series of 6 races lets hundreds of local runners test their mettle and maybe even win some medals along the way. It ain’t easy, but these training groups have programs designed to make the challenge less arduous and way fun. 



Cost: FREE

Training Kickoff: August 5th, ongoing enrollment

Besides providing an incredibly supportive and positive community, our free training program is loaded with perks. These include ART treatments care of  Dr. Jonathan from Performance Wellness on the 1st Tuesday of each month, customized training plans with goal paces for each workout, pace group leaders across a wide range of speeds, carb loading party before the Austin Marathon, and some serious fun. The Run Less, Run Faster training the program is based on is ideal for newbies and experienced runners alike. And there’s definitely no shortage of friendly competition at our workouts (relays, anyone?). No advance sign-up needed; just sign a waiver, show up, keep showing up, and you’ll soon be a part of a great community that will hold you accountable to your training goals!



Cost: $285 (new), $235 (returning)

Training Kickoff: September 1st

Gilbert’s Gazelles is an award-winning training program with a unique focus on helping people of all ages and abilities run with joy. Now celebrating 12 years of serving the local running community, Gilbert Tuhabonye and his team of coaches have led thousands of runners across finish lines. With a focus on form, strength, stability, proper speed work, and the right mix of long runs, the program is suitable for first-timers, as well as PR seekers. Over the years, numerous Gazelle members have claimed Austin Distance Challenge titles, including Gilbert in 2004.


Rogue Running Logo

Cost: $368

Training Kickoff: September 6th

What makes Rogue Running unique are its coaches. With about 10 coaches from all walks of life, their coaching philosophy is unified by the continuing education their coaches receive so they stay on the cutting edge. Add the personality each coach injects into their various groups, and you’re sure to find a match that will challenge you, give feedback, and build you up to dare the distance. Live in the northern ‘burbs? Rogue’s got you covered with their Cedar Park training groups.


trail roots logo

Cost: $35-$89/month

Training Kickoff: September 6th

Although the main focus of Trail Roots is trail racing, coach and founder (and 2013 Distance Challenge winner), Erik Stanley is offering customized training plans to his runners looking to tackle all 6 Austin Distance Challenge races. With a career spanning 10 years and many NCAA, USATF, road, and trail awards and records behind his name, Erik has the experience and know-how to help you meet your goals. Besides their numerous trail runs, Trail Roots’ “quality” Tuesday track and core workouts at Jack & Adam’s will get you ready for the Distance Challenge. Possible side effect of training with Erik: you might fall in love with trail running.



Cost: $100-$176.20 (depending on experience and membership)

Training Kickoff: On-going

The motto of Twenty-Six.Two (TST) is “We run marathons. It’s what we do.” So it shouldn’t come as a surprise they focus on full marathons in their training. Although a small group, their runners range from first timers to people with multiple BQs. Coach Paul Carmona provides a consistent, regular, and measured regimen that gets runners to the starting line healthy and the finish line happy. First time female marathoners receive free training, and TST proudly boasts a 100% completion rate for their first timer females. Cool fact: you can find TST veterans serving as pacers in many of Austin’s big races, including Decker Challenge and 3M.


So who’s your favorite group to get you going? Do you know of another group that offers Distance Challenge training? Let us know in the comments section below!