Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Dave's Run for ALS

A Record Morning on the Mountain
Dave’s Run for ALS, March 22, 2009

by Dave Hill

This year’s Dave’s Run for ALS had a fresh new look: new venue, new sponsors, new participation in the SAR 2009 Running Shop Desert Grand Prix and a new record field.

The new venue at Dove Mountain Retail Center was voted a ‘hit’ by the running
community, who turned out in force, to more than double last year’s field (362 finishers, compared with 171). A new title sponsor, Comcast, came on board and we are very excited about the possibilities of working with them in future years. We were grateful recipients of some great publicity in the form of public service announcements made by 92.9 The Mountain, who also provided some very popular raffle prizes. The Gallery Golf Club stepped in with some magnificent awards and raffle prizes; Dove Mountain Grill, Arbonne Products and Batters Box all provided additional awards. In addition to these new sponsors, we were delighted to retain the Running Shop as principal sponsor for overall awards and age-group winners and, as usual, Sharon Bart delivered a wonderful array of prizes. Culligan-Oasis Water once again supplied our water stations and this year we had a new electrolyte replacement drink, provided by Xood. All of the above are local companies, who gladly gave their support to a local event.

Please give them your support in return.

Race day was blessed with beautiful weather, perhaps a little warmer than usual for this event, but the promised wind storm did not materialize and running conditions were close to optimum for a 5K. The race itself was an exciting affair up front. After James Miles took out the early pace, Pima Community College assistant coach Robert Seaman, and former PCC All-American Shaun Haley hit the front, then Seaman made the crucial break on the last downhill to prevail by one second from the fast finishing Haley (15:47 to 15:48). Shaun, who is a first-year master, had the consolation of setting a new M40 state record, subject to ratification. A late run through the field by former UA star, Obed Mutanya (16:19) clinched third place, and showed that he is making good progress on his return to training. He was followed closely by Catlow Shipek, James Miles, then Gavin Sosa rounding out the first six places. Behind Haley, the top three masters were completed by William Schaffer and Mike Bradley.

The ladies race was dominated by Ashley Tousley, a law student in Des Moines, Iowa, who recorded an impressive 17:37 to win by over two minutes from local favorite, Paula Morrison. There was a close contest for 3rd and 4th between Amber Young (20:12) and Christina Hogue (20:16) and they were followed by master’s winner, Barbara Leinweber and Tia Accetta in one of her first races since the birth of her second child, a few months ago. The second and third master’s also put on a competitive race, as Cotah Rose (21:22) finished just five seconds ahead of Merry Dearmon-Moore.

The most outstanding age-group performances came in the F65-69 category, where Sandra Heater and Judie Shyman both annihilated the F66 state record, with Sandra claiming first place by 15 seconds (26:22) and thereby becoming the new record holder. I have many people to thank, but I would like to start by saying a big thank you to everyone who turned out to support this race. No matter how much pre-planning and preparation goes into an event like this, at the end of the day it is the great running public who make a race successful or not. Thank you for making this one a success! In particular, I would like to express my gratitude to the IBM team for coming out in support of their colleague Jim Riehl, an ALS sufferer. It was an inspiration to meet Jim and see how much he enjoyed the morning.

Putting on something like this can be lot of fun but also a lot of work and it wouldn’t be possible without a great number of people who freely volunteer their time, to ensure that things run smoothly. I can’t possibly mention them all by name, but I would like to thank all of the SAR board members who turned out help, especially Sheryl and Steve Felde who did their usual immaculate job of organizing packet pick up and registration on Saturday and Sunday. If there was a hall of fame for volunteers, Sheryl and Steve would be the inaugural inductees. I am also very fortunate to have the support of a wonderful group of runners, known as the Tucson Grinders who not only raced en masse, but also volunteered en masse for setting up and clearing up, both of which were accomplished in record time. In particular, I have to mention my wife Michele and Norris ‘Butch’ Taylor, who in addition to their race day labors, also spent half of Friday stuffing 400 race packets. And, I can’t forget my course set up team of Scott Cole, Glenn Davis and Shawn Jackson who laid and then picked up more road cones than they would care to remember! Thanks too, to the Tri-Girls team who staffed the water stations, to ace photographers Jolene Jones and Ron Lumm, and to Greg Wenneborg and his Pima athletes, Joe Cuffari and Craig Curley, who did a great job with the finish line and timing. Thanks are also due to the Town of Marana for their help in permitting the event, especially for waiving their normal fees; to the Town of Marana Police Department; to site owners Cottonwood Properties for allowing use to use the venue and to Bashas’ Supermarket for granting the use of their café area for pre-race registration.

Finally, I have to give special thanks to two people who really made this event possible. Jim Irish, who volunteered his time as race commentator this year, was responsible for starting this event in 2001 and for keeping it going for several years thereafter. I was fortunate enough to inherit an event that was already well-established on the SAR calendar and I am truly standing on Jim’s shoulders. The second person will be less familiar to you, but my friend Lance Eldridge, from The Gallery Golf Club, has made a huge contribution to the changes that we made for this year’s race. It was Lance who brought in most of the new sponsors: Comcast, 92.9 The Mountain, The Gallery Golf Club and the Dove Mountain Grill. He was also instrumental in securing the venue, through his contacts with Cottonwood Properties and Bashas’. A monumental thank you to both of them.

At the time of writing this report, there are only 364 more days until the 10th annual Dave’s Run for ALS. Mark the date in your diaries now and enjoy another Morning on the Mountain, March 21, 2010.

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