Longtime Austin runner Chris Thibert recalls running on the cross-country team at Bowie High School the year the school was built.
“I was a freshman the year Bowie opened.” said Thibert. “There was a math teacher there named Gary Schmidt and he was the first cross-country coach at Bowie. He ran all of our workouts with us, and it was hard to keep up with Coach!” Thibert competed there all four years, and made it to the state championship cross-country meet his senior year as an individual.
As a collegiate runner, he was pretty darned good too, running a 14:58 5K at the Southland Conference back in 1996 while competing for The University of Texas in San Antonio. These days, Thibert, 48, who lives in southwest Austin, runs for general fitness. “I’m running two to three times a week, around four to six miles at a 7:00-7:30 pace. I’ve been struggling with a few injuries, so my goal is to get past those and run a solid half-marathon and ultimately a marathon,” he said.
“My dad ran his first marathon at age 50 and did one a year for the next 10 years. So I’m hoping to run a good one when I turn 50 in a few years,” said Thibert.
Thibert, the Events Manager for the Austin American Statesman, is a big part of Austin running, and plays an important role in staging the Capitol 10,000. Additionally, he helps out with the Austin Marathon.
Initially he worked on the logistics, permitting and so forth for the Cap 10. In the past several years, he was instrumental in developing Austin’s Coffee House Tours, a series of 10K course around the city built around coffee houses and supported by online resources.
“We created about 27 10K routes around Austin for the Austin’s Coffee House tour,” said Thibert. “It started when COVID hit as a way to engage people to virtually run the Capitol 10,000. Before COVID, we had groups of up to 500 people training for the race. We came up with the idea of working with homegrown Austin coffee houses and building 10K routes around them.”
Each course starts and finishes at a coffee house around town and you can find all of the routes here. Thibert explains that it’s kind of a hybrid way of meeting up with other runners, both online and in person.
“Runners have all the digital tools to meet and run the courses any time they want,” said Thibert. “It’s a resource for the entire community all around Austin. You’ll find everything you need at Austin’s Coffee House Tour. There’s a tour in the fall and a tour in the spring, but these courses can be used anytime.”
The way it’s designed, it’s 100% free. It’s a web-based resource and training tool and the collection of routes is for everyone to use. The resources include a variety of online map tools to enable runners to navigate the various coffee house courses. Thibert said that RunGo—one of the map tools—has been a huge hit. RunGo is a live-linked GPS map of the route telling you where you are and showing you where to go. Strava, a free running tracker app with a social media component, is one of the best tools used with the coffee house routes.
“We’ll see runners talking to each other on Strava about the different coffee house routes, and people can compare times with other runners on the same route,” said Thibert. “Also runners meet in person at the various coffee houses to run.”
Upcoming Races: Sunday, January 23 at 7:30 a.m. 3M Half Marathon at Gateway Shopping Center, Austin. Saturday, February 5 at 8:00 a.m., the Get Outside 5K/10K, Garlic Creek Clubhouse, Buda. Sunday, February 6 at 7:30 a.m., the San Marcos Half Marathon 10K and 5K at the Tanger Outlet, San Marcos.