Austin Area Athletes Are Running With Confidence Heading Into The Texas Distance Festival

The state of Texas is huge and it has a large distance running community. The creation and evolution of the Texas Distance Festival (TDF) has not only quenched the thirst of the distance running community in the DFW, but it also meets the needs of the rest of the state. 

Athletes and teams from all over Texas will make the trip today to Southlake, Texas to get a quality run and some elite competition.

Included in the over 1,300 athletes registered are Austin area distance stars Jordan Mathis of Austin Vandegrift and Dereck Elkins of Round Rock Stony Point.

Like many other athletes and coaches, they too want the get in the mix of the elite races and have a taste of the high level of competition you can't get anywhere else. "I'm really excited to race here! I've been looking forward to racing some elite competition and just see what a 5k on the track is like," Elkins said.

"I feel like it's something special to be able to race at a distance oriented meet. I'm really glad that Southlake puts on the event every year. I've never felt like the sprinting overshadows distance or vice versa, but I think it's really awesome that Texas is able to shine across all events."

The meet seems to come at a time of year that fits right in with the athlete's training cycles. "There hasn't been much of a change in training, we really just make sure the race is in the back of our heads during the workouts so we can be ready. Staying consistent and mentally prepared have been the biggest preparations."

Elkins has already had some big time performances this season including one of the top 3200m times in the state. On March 1st, he ran his only 3200m of the season when he ran a 9:17.74 personal best. That was the #1 time in the state until last weekend.

Still sitting with the fourth fastest time in the state, today, he is heading into the TDF with some confidence and momentum which could be huge and have big implications of an extraordinary race for him today. "I feel like my training has put me in a position to stick up in the pack for whatever the pace may be. If this race is anything like last year I don't think that 9:17 PR will stand. I really never had a solid two mile race in my career up until that point and I think it proves to me that my fitness is there and I can be ready to compete."

"I think it's going to be a totally different experience. I feel like taking the terrain battle out of the equation makes for a different type of pain. This race also seems to value times higher than placement which is going to be something very different from the 5k's in cross country as well. The best thing I could do is just trust in my training. I know from last year's race that a quick pace shouldn't be a surprise and I just need to be ready for anything!"

It is pretty much the same sentiment from Mathis. "I am very excited for this weekend's meet at Southlake Carroll because it will be a good opportunity to race fast girls from around the state."

Mathis' coach has adapted her training for today's 5K race though, "As opposed to typical training for the 1600 and the 3200 during this time of the year, we have had to shift focus for this week's 5K by doing different workouts to prepare for the longer distance. As a team, we do stamina workouts year round, which helps make the switch to a longer race more manageable." 

Much like Elkins, Mathis is heading into the TDF riding some momentum and with confidence right after running a PR in the 1600m. Last weekend, at the Lovejoy Spring Distance Festival, the sophomore ran a 1600m PR of 5:02.74. "Yes, I am definitely feeling more confident after my 1600 last weekend at Lovejoy, but I know that the 5k is a very different race.  I am just hoping to do my best."

"I had been working really hard in training with hopes of posting a fast time and qualifying for Texas Relays later this month. Going into my race last weekend at Lovejoy, I knew that there was going to be good competition, and that I wanted to push myself. I was really excited to have a breakthrough race and set a pr in the process. Hopefully, this performance will help push me to run another fast time this weekend."

This will be Mathis' first go around at the TDF, so she will definitely have to be prepared mentally for what will happen quick and could be a race determining decision if she is not ready to make a go with the other elite girls.

"This will be my first time racing a 5k on the track. The race times should be fast, since we won't have to worry about changes in elevation and uneven footing, common with cross country courses.  I am definitely looking forward to the chance to compete with some of the top runners in the state."

Although, she is still a young runner, Mathis is battle tested and she can definitely make the right mental and physical race adaptions. She already knows what she has to do, "Remembering to stay positive during the race is going to help me be mentally prepared for a fast pace.  If the race goes out really fast, I have to just stay relaxed and trust my pacing in order to have strong miles two and three."  

Don't miss any of the action from the Texas Distance Festival. Watch both Elkins and Mathis as well as the other state and national top distance runners.  Watch LIVE on