Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pat's Run - April 18, 2009 Tempe AZ

As a runner there are certain races in certain states that you "have to do". Some events are even "have to do" for non-runners too -- Pat's Run is one of these events.

Sunday, April 18 marked the 5th running of Pat's Run, benefiting Team Tillman / Pat Tillman Foundation and showcased how much an event like this can grow. 20,000 walkers, runners, stroller-pushing joggers and first-time runners participated along with an army of yellow-shirted volunteers. To put it simply, the city of Tempe is transformed by the number 42. (Pat's number with ASU). Tempe, AZ and ASU are one in the same. The university's campus is directly connected to the main artery of Tempe -- Mill Street -- and ASU students (not to mention parents and visitors) are the life blood of the city. On the Spring day of Pat's Run, Tempe bleeds ASU burgundy & gold and the number 42 is everywhere you look.

Most races it's considered a rookie mistake to wear the event's T-shirt during the race; experienced runners know that race day is not the time to wear anything new (chafing anyone?). There are a few times when that rule can be broken - Pink race shirts during a breast cancer run (Nike women's marathon and Komen Race for the Cure come to mind) - and Pat's Run is one of these times. Packet pick-up is available for days before the event, so everyone has the latest "42" on their backs, and multi-year runners have any of the previous 4 years... although there are very few from year 1 before the current TT / Pat's Run logos. I guess those are collector's items of sort. Pre-race it was fun to point out each of the previous year's shirts to my running partner while we were waiting in line at the port-o-johns. Even with a huge mass of people, the wait wasn't that bad, as the organizers did a tremendous job of making sure there was enough of everything to accommodate 20,000 bodies.

Speaking of my running partner, this was his first running race. He's done a few tris and even an ultra marathon relay -- yet never toed the line for a running race. I got to provide some advice and see the event through the eyes of a newbie; that's always fun to remind you what it was like on your first time. My sage advice wasn't always on the mark though; we picked a corral that had the big #8 on it and I failed to notice it wasn't 8-minute miles (as we'd planned to run) it was corral #8, 11:00 minute miles! Since this is an "event" and less of a running race, I didn't care about time, and settled in with this pack. There were plenty of walkers & runners of all shapes & sizes, and the mood was light - whether they were there to run, walk or just be a part of the event. Aside from the tight quarters at the start (OK, for the first mile) it was a blast to navigate around the rest of the pack. Jason felt it was a great confidence boost to pass ab out a thousand other runners during the race!

As far as courses go, the route is pretty nice; I have run or biked the same area several times for different triathlons or marathons so I know the area well. You start between Sun Angel and Sun Devil stadiums, and end - get this - on the 42 yard line of Sun Devil Stadium. The run into the stadium can be a little tight, but coming out of the tunnel onto the field is an amazing experience. For the last 2 years I've made it a point to all-out sprint the 60 or so yards as soon as my feet hit the turf. Finishing on the field is incredible, the stands are filled with spectators and runners who've already finished and some runners even get their names called over the PA system. The huge crouds work their way up the stadium steps and the concession area is very well stocked with water, bananas and bars.

(I just realized it took longer for me to write this than to run the race!)

All in all, it's a great event. If you're a runner, walker or athlete and live in AZ (or San Jose for that event) then you need to do this race. Period. There's a reason 20,000 people showed up this year and left happy!

1 comment:

  1. Great report. I realized after the race that the start line was the finish line for the PF Chang's Rock N Roll Marathon.