The university’s Naval Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (UT NROTC) has been gearing up for its annual Run to Dallas, a 27-hour, 200-mile trek along IH-35 in anticipation of the Red River Rivalry football game between The University of Texas at Austin and Oklahoma University on Oct. 6.
Sixty UT NROTC members will make the trip this year, beginning with the game ball hand-off from Coach Mack Brown Oct. 4 at 11:30 a.m. at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. ESPN plans to cover the hand-off.
The students will then hand the ball back over to Brown at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas on Oct. 6.
“Everyone is pumped when Coach Mack Brown tosses us the ball and then the run begins,” said Danielle Stone, a senior biochemistry major organizing the event. “It is exhilarating, exhausting, and it really allows the people in the NROTC unit to build up their camaraderie.”
Going into its 25th year, Run to Dallas is an opportunity for members of the UT NROTC to build stamina and camaraderie as well as to raise money for a charity. This year, the group is running in support of the Lance Armstrong Foundation and hopes to raise $50,000 for the organization.
“We chose the Lance Armstrong Foundation because Lance Armstrong himself is a bold figure and local to the Austin area,” Stone said.
“This tradition teaches leadership and camaraderie and just how to have a good time,” Stone said. “Participants enjoy the run and get a chance to really get to know their peers whom they are working with and will probably work with once they enter the Navy and Marine Corps.”
At any given time during the run, one to 15 people will be running with the game ball along the route, which moves the group to FM 308 and Highway 77 for parts of the run for safety reasons. Those who aren’t running ride in vans driving next to the runners.
“Motorists honk and yell at us in a positive way. They cheer us on as they travel to Dallas for the game,” Stone said.
While the run starts out with excitement, Stone said the journey takes its toll.
“As time goes on, the mood changes from excitement to exhaustion and tiredness due to the length of time running and being in the vans,” Stone said. “But the time spent with each other throughout the event really helps the mood to stay alive.”
Despite some weariness, Stone said nothing can keep the joy and elation out of the air when the UT NROTC members finally make it to the Cotton Bowl.
“Once we hit the Cotton Bowl, we are joyous because the run is almost over and we’ll finally get the chance to take a shower,” she said. It’s also the time when the group can donate the money they worked so hard for to the Lance Armstrong Foundation and accomplish what they set out to do — help cancer patients in need.
For more information on how to support the Run to Dallas go to http://www.runtodallas.com/