How a Texas Ex took the spirit of Longhorn Run to Taipei, Taiwan.

Last April, the Eyes of Texas were upon the 3,596 participants that registered for the Longhorn Run this year on the 40 Acres. Each of the participants had a journey of their own leading up to the starting line and on race day.

The spirit that those involved bring is undeniably one of the elements that has year after year built Longhorn Run to be a campus tradition, aiming to bring thousands of runners together for the largest display of UT pride in the spring, promoting fitness while giving back and supporting students in their journey to change the world.

This a story about one of those 3,596 participants’ journey, the story of how a Longhorn took that spirit to his corner of the world. No time zone differences or distance kept this proud Texas Ex from being a part of the tradition. It all began in 2014, when Texas Ex Dan Villarreal (Ph.D, 2011) reached out to the planning committee regarding the race’s sleep-in option.

“I saw the news about the Longhorn Run and found myself wishing I could participate — then I saw the sleep-in option and realized that in fact, I could! I would just have to go outside the box a bit,” Dan says, reminiscing on when it all begun. The Longhorn Run offers the sleep-in option for those who are not able to join us on race day but want to be a part of this campus tradition by giving back. Dan however, didn’t quite sleep-in on race day, instead he had a Longhorn Run of his own for the last two years — 7,809 miles away from Austin, in Taipei, Taiwan. The morning of the race, Dan goes on a run around the town.

I am interested in health, fitness, and controlling my weight, and all the rest of the benefits that folks get from exercising. So I kill two birds with one stone: I do a daily workout and while I do it, I feel a connection with my fellow Longhorns and get some exercise at the same time. Three birds, really: my entry fee helps students! — Dan Villarreal

Despite being on opposite sides of the world, Dan coincidentally experienced the similar foggy rainy weather that runners in Austin worked through. But, as you can see in the photos below from Dan’s journey from start to finish this year, that didn’t keep him from hitting the pavement in true Longhorn fashion.

Dan on his race day gear: It was cold and rainy, so my 2014 Longhorn Run T-shirt was hidden by my Bexar County windbreaker (I’m a retired Texas Licensed Court Interpreter. Hey, it’s not a UT item, but at least it’s Texas!). I wore a UT College of Education bag to carry my stuff, so that any fellow Longhorns could identify me. And of course, Longhorn socks!
Dan’s start line and on-course sightings at Dahu Park in Taipei.
Sightings from Dan’s run, including a photo booth that served as cover from the rain — “I stepped into a phone booth like Clark Kent while waiting for the light to change! It was raining cats and dogs,” he shares.
I enjoy wearing my Longhorn Run race-tee to exercise: I’m pretty confident that it’s the only one of its kind in Taiwan. Other Longhorns who know that I live here and haven’t been home in years have asked me — How do you find time to go home and do the Longhorn Run?
— Dan Villarreal
I was the host, the official timer, and also both first and second place in all categories — Top Male Finisher, Men of All Ages, Best of Breed, you name it! If another Longhorn shows up next year, I might not place as high! I do hope more folks come out next year, wherever they are on the planet, and help raise money for students. With the sleep-in option, there are no limitations imposed by time, distance, or time zones!
Dan Villarreal

Thank you Dan, for helping students change the world by putting your horns up on the day of Longhorn Run from your corner of the world.

Hook’em!


Save the date, the 2016 Longhorn Run will take place on April 9, 2016 — join us in Austin or be a part of this campus tradition from wherever you may be.

To learn more about the Longhorn Run, visit utlonghornrun.com

Click here to see more of Dan’s race day photos and stories.