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Slideshow: Texas Independence Relay Retraces Texas History

Credit James Baker
Moon Over Moravia

A moon, full or not, hanging over the vast open farmland of the Texas coastal plain, always brings to my mind the popular waltz written by the Dujka Brothers, singing of the Moon Over Moravia. These are not the Dujka Brothers of Czechoslovakia, nor are they singing of those historical Czech lands in the east of the Czech Republic. No, these Dujka Brothers are born and bred in Texas, and their Moravia is the small town nestled in the rolling prairies between Schulenburg and Hallettsville. To many, this is the heart of Texas, an area rich in a cultural diversity which reflects significant 19th century immigration from Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Germany. This is also the area intersected by Highway 90, roughly marking the route of one of the most famous events in Texas History. After the fall of the Alamo on March 6, 1836, General Sam Houston ordered everyone to leave their homes and farms, burning anything they couldn't carry. Most took flight toward the east in an exodus referred to as the Runaway Scrape. This route, roughly following what is now Highway 90, was also the route followed by General Houston and his army as they pursued the army of the Mexican General Santa Anna. On April 21, 1836, General Houston's army defeated Santa Anna's army at the Battle of San Jacinto.

Beginning in 2007, Jay and Joy Hilscher, well-established organizers of running events in Austin, rolled out plans for an ambitious relay race, starting in the historic town of Gonzales and ending over 200 miles away, at the San Jacinto Memorial. The inaugural Texas Independence Relay was held the weekend of March 1 and 2, 2008. It has been run annually since, making the 2015 edition of the TIR the 8th running of the race. Over the years, the TIR has attracted teams, generally of 10-12 runners each, from across the country, but primarily from within Texas. Many teams come back year after year, relishing the challenge of running, as a team, over 200 miles, but also using the TIR weekend as an opportunity to further good friendships, and to make new friendships. It is truly a memorable experience. I know. I had teams in the first 4 runnings of the TIR, and assisted as a volunteer in 2012. Each year since, I have used the TIR as an excuse to drive through one of my favorite parts of Texas, cheering the teams along the way, and shooting numerous pictures of the event, the historic small towns along the way, and the precious Texas wildflowers. The slide show above gives some idea of what the TIR is all about.