I started running with Austin Fit ten years ago, in 2007. It’s been an amazing journey.

I moved to Austin in the 1970's, and began running so I could run in the Capitol 10,000 race in its second year (now referred to as the Cap 10K). I ran another 10K race that year, and then took a very long break from running.

In 2007, I started running again because I wanted to run in the 30th anniversary of the Cap 10k, and so I joined Austin Fit to begin training. I was a smoker at the time, and had not been exercising much. It was tough to get going again, but I felt like I had been awakened after a long sleep. When I completed that race, I decided to set my sights on a bigger goal, and ended up running a full marathon - the 2008 Austin Marathon - in less than a year after I started training with Austin FIT.

My favorite distance for races is the half marathon. I have run 2 full marathons and about 20 half marathons (I am starting to lose count) and numerous 10K and 5K races. I have enjoyed running half marathons in other cities and places such as New Orleans, San Antonio, Shiner (TX) and have run two long distances races in Big Bend. I have benefited from great coaches at Austin FIT, starting with Coach Monica Beard (my first marathon coach), and have been an assistant coach a few times, which was challenging but very rewarding. I have tried to push myself a little bit the last few years by doing things that were outside of my comfort zone, such as running more than a half marathon in the desert, running my second full marathon, and completing the Austin Distance Challenge.

Running with Austin FIT has been an awesome experience. I have met a lot of people, and made some really good friends. When you run long distances with others, you have the opportunity to really get to know people, and you see each other at your best and worst. Other than the great exercise, the friendships that have been made along the way have been the best part of Austin FIT for me.

I have also enjoyed getting to know Austin in a more intimate way, learning more about the streets and trails and the different parts of town. I have loved experiencing nature and the outdoors in all kinds of weather, from heat and humidity, to pouring rain, to freezing cold. I have discovered that I am a much better runner in the cold than the heat, but summer training keeps me going until the cooler temperatures arrive.

I have discovered that that the most memorable runs tend to be the most difficult ones, including the ones with extreme weather or hills (even though I am not a big fan of hills). I have also learned that the most rewards come from the training, the journey, that you take with other people in Austin FIT. The races you run are fun, but they are just the icing on the cake.

Other than running, my passions include my dog Karlee, movies, and music, especially live music. We live in the Live Music Capital of the World, so I try to take advantage of that. I am also trying to spend more time with my parents, as they are elderly and I know my time with them is precious. I know this is a little long, but I had a lot to say. Thanks to Austin FIT for everything, and for all of the coaches and friends who have made it special.

"I love the friends I have gathered together on this thin raft. We have constructed pyramids in honor of our escaping." ~ The Doors

Hunt "The Shadow" Cooley

Hunt Cooley, USA FIT Austin