Breakfast with Iram Leon, the 2020 Cap10K race ambassador

Breakfast with Iram Leon, the 2020 Cap10K race ambassador

The tiny muffin in front is mine, but Iram Leon ate those three giant pastries all by himself this morning when we met for breakfast at Upper Crust Bakery. Pam LeBlanc photo

Iram Leon thinks it’s pretty amusing that he’s been selected as race ambassador for the 2020 Statesman Capitol 10,000.

Last year, Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross held the post. In 2018, Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano was ambassador.

“They went downhill fast,” Leon jokes about his appointment. But I think he makes a fine ambassador. I had breakfast with Leon this morning at Upper Crust Bakery. He’d already gone for a 6-mile run, and was planning to run again tonight with his 12-year-old daughter.

I watched as he tossed back three giant pastries. That in itself was impressive, but there’s more.

I first wrote about Leon in 2013, just after he’d won the overall title at the Gusher Marathon in Beaumont – while pushing his daughter in a stroller and despite a diagnosis of brain cancer.

A marble-sized tumor is entwined in the memory and language hub of Leon’s brain and has invisible “tentacles” that even doctors can’t detect. The average survival time for the disease is four years; only a third of patients live five years after diagnosis.

Cap10K officials have named Leon the race ambassador for the 2020 Cap10K. He has brain cancer but still logs about 60 miles of running each week. Pam LeBlanc photo

But Leon’s diagnosis came nine years ago. At his most recent checkup in June, doctors told him his tumor is stable. If you didn’t notice the scar that snakes across the side of his head you might never guess he was sick.

He runs – a lot – and he runs fast. The Cap10K was the very first race Leon ran when he came to Austin. He’s done the race five or six times since, alongside his daughter and with his parents and wife Elaine, whom he married last year in a run-themed weddingthat I wrote aboutfor the Austin American-Statesman.

Leon says he likes the Cap10K because it draws runners of all ability levels. For some, a 10K is the longest distance they’ll ever run. When last year’s Cap10K was cancelled due to bad weather, Leon showed up, unsolicited, to help break down the infrastructure.He’s also president of the Austin Runners Club.

So yes, he’s the perfect ambassador for the 43rdannual Cap10K on April 5, 2020.

As race ambassador, Leon will appear at the Cap10K Expo and participate in some of the themed training runs leading up to the race. He’ll also hit the starting horn at the beginning of the race – before he jumps into the crowd and participates himself, a first for a Cap10K ambassador. Afterward, he’ll hand out medals to finishers, something he loves to do.

“It’s like handing out happiness,” he says.

Leon, president of the Austin Runners Club, logs about 60 miles each week. Pam LeBlanc photo

The Cap10K began in 1978 with 3,400 participants. Now more than 20,000 run it.

“The Cap10K is about community and commitment, and who better to represent our 43rd race than inspirational Austin running community member Iram J. Leon,” race director Jeff Simecek wrote in a press release.

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Want cars to see you when you run in the dark? Try this!

Want cars to see you when you run in the dark? Try this!

The Noxgear Tracer360 is a bright, illuminated “vest” made of tubing that flashes in multiple colors. Pam LeBlanc photo

Did you see that multi-colored flash of light streak down your street the other morning?
That wasn’t an asteroid entering the earth’s atmosphere – it was me, jogging from my home in the Allendale neighborhood to Barton Springs Pool for a dip. Since it was dark at 6:30 a.m. when I left my house, I strapped on a handy new device sent to me from Noxgear called the Tracer 360.

I’ve tried an assortment of products designed to keep me visible when I bike or run in the dark. Most reflective vests are too bulky and hot, headlamps give me a headache, and hand-held lights are a hassle. Some things show only from the front, or when headlights hit them.

Now it’s blue! Pam LeBlanc photo

Now I’ve got an insanely bright new option, sent to me by the manufacturer for a test drive. And holy pre-dawn running frijoles does this thing stand out in a crowd.

The contraption looks like a vest made out of narrow plastic tubing, with a small plastic shell on the back to hold batteries and a stretchy reflective waistband to hold it in place. It comes in three sizes and weighs just seven ounces.

I put the thing on (it fits over a T-shirt or jacket just fine), flipped the on switch and took off.

Now it’s yellow! Pam LeBlanc photo

I knew it was visible, but my thoughts were confirmed when a motorist stopped at an intersection called me over to tell me he’d seen me from a block away. He wanted to know who made the vest so he could get one for himself.

I also got a couple of random horn toots, and one catcall, thanks to the Tracer360.

You can set the device to multi-color flashing mode, so it scrolls through blue, green, yellow, orange, red, pink and purple, or any one solid color. The piping surrounds the wearer’s entire body, so you’re visible from every angle. The maker says the lights can be seen a mile away.

Pam LeBlanc photo


I didn’t even notice it as I ran. It didn’t trap sweat or weigh me down. It uses three AAA batteries, and the packaging says it lasts for 40 hours on a set. It’s rainproof, too. It’s designed for runners, but it would work well for cyclists.

Daylight Savings Time ends Nov. 3. That means more folks will be out running in the dark, before or after work. If you’re one of them, please wear something to make yourself visible to passing motorists.

The Noxgear Tracer360 costs $69.95 online at (Looks like it’s on sale now for $49.95.)



About Pam

I’m Pam LeBlanc. Follow my blog to keep up with the best in outdoor travel and adventure. Thanks for visiting my site.

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