Longhorns are accustomed to seeing their athletes run triumphantly into Darrell K Royal–Memorial Stadium. This time was a little different, though. It was in the spring, not fall. And instead of dozens of them there were thousands.
This year saw the inaugural Longhorn Run, a pair of two-mile and 10K races culminating in the stadium — a first for organized runs.
“Who doesn’t want to run into the Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium?” asked Liam O’Rourke, one of the student organizers of the May 1 race.
About 2,750 people participated in the Longhorn Run, a benefit event for student organizations. The run, which was open to anyone, grossed slightly less than $100,000. Profits are expected to be $50,000 to $55,000, which will be added to the existing Student Government Endowed Excellence Fund. Every year revenue from the endowment is awarded to UT student organizations that are committed to social justice and serving the community.
What happens here really does change the world, O’Rourke says, and “sometimes you need money to do that.”
This year’s award, about $7,500, helped pay to host a black student government conference. Applications for the award ranged from the straightforward — tutoring — to the improbable — using playground equipment in Africa to drill for oil. O’Rourke likes the idea of encouraging innovative thinking — even ideas that might seem crazy at first.
“We’re investing in the creativity of the UT student body,” said O’Rourke, a 2010 honors history graduate and former student-body president.
The final destination for the run was the stadium, but that wasn’t the only UT connection. Both courses toured campus, with the 10K also making its way through surrounding neighborhoods. And the 10K boasted an extra bit of Longhorn pride — the course was designed in the shape of a hand making the Hook ’Em Horns sign.
For some student runners, the benefits of participating in the run even extended to the classroom. Professor Brent Iverson made a promise to the 500 students in his Chemistry 310N class: If 20 percent of them participated in the run he wouldn’t ask certain questions on the final. The class easily made the goal, with 135 participating.
Iverson, himself a runner, has been asking his classes to participate in runs for 15 years now and says it’s a good way to encourage healthy living among his students, many of them future doctors.
“It helps them think of things beyond the next midterm, beyond the next final, and develop lifelong patterns,” Iverson said.
Soncia Reagins-Lilly, senior associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, says such philanthropic efforts say a lot about UT students.
“It really is a beautiful representation of the learning that’s occurring, of the student commitment and leadership,” Lilly said. “Our students have vision, they have dreams, and they have the bandwidth to achieve.”
Nike, the run’s primary sponsor, has signed on for next year, O’Rourke said.
The 10K run was promoted only three and a half weeks before it sold out. O’Rourke says UT’s strong alumni base helped recruit participants.
“When we do something we really do it big,” he said.
The race attracted runners from San Antonio, El Paso, and even a couple honeymooning from New York.
“That’s just a taste of what this run could be in the future,” O’Rourke said.