Payson Runners Join Pat's Run Party

Advertisement

The highlight of Pat's Run for the 10,000-plus who entered might have been the final few grueling yards.

After a four-plus-mile run on the outskirts of the Arizona State University campus in Tempe, runners huffed and puffed through an uphill run into the north end of Sun Devil stadium.

photo

Town councilor Tim Fruth and wife Carolyn competed in Pat's Run.

There, they began a final descent onto the meticulously manicured Frank Kush field.

Spirits were boosted and adrenaline was flowing as two long lines of hulking Sun Devil football players greeted the runners. Cheers and high fives from the Devils rendered the long run a rewarding and worthwhile way to spend the cool, clear April 15 morning.

At the 42-yard line, runners celebrated their efforts on a field where Pat Tillman once starred for Arizona State University and the Arizona Cardinals.

The finish was chosen because Tillman, an Army Ranger who was killed April 22, 2004 while fighting in Afghanistan, wore the No. 42 when he played football at Arizona State University.

On that same yard line, only weeks after Tillman's tragic death, former Cardinals coach Dave McGinnis, delivered a power-packed eulogy in which he told the crowd that Tillman's spirit was alive and well in the stadium.

"That lump in your throat, the tear in your eye, is Pat," he said.

Larry Marmie, a former Cardinal assistant coach, also insisted Tillman's spirit lives on in the stadium where he had some of his finest days as a football player.

"He's on the sidelines, in the stands, on the field doing back flips and sitting on one of the light poles," Marmie said.

photo

Following Pat's Run, more than 10,000 entrants gathered on Frank Kush field in Sun Devil Stadium to celebrate their accomplishments during the 4.2-mile event.

As a student at ASU, Tillman was known to climb the light poles above the stadium in search of a place where he could find solace.

Many of the runners wore plastic wristbands given them by the Arizona Cardinals.

They read, "Never Forget No. 40" -- the jersey number Tillman wore when he played for the professional football team.

Following the completion of the run/walk, a .42-mile run for tykes and young children began outside the stadium, near a kid's zone, and ended on the 42-yard line.

Rim runners

A teenager, a mother of two and a grandmother led the Rim Country charge at Pat's Run.

Thirteen-year-old Ashton Wolf blazed her way to a second place age group finish, Carolyn Fruth was fourth in the 40 to 42-year-old female division and Kay Foster, of Pine, was 16th among the 60-years-plus female runners.

Wolfe, competing in the 2 to 15-years girls division toured the 4.2-mile course in 29:54.

Fruth, who was third in 2005, was timed in 32:04 and Foster in 50:02.

Also representing the Rim Country was Shannon Bilke (43-49-years; 49:05) and town counselor Tim Fruth (43-49 years; 35:52).

Local law enforcement officers Henry Thomason (26-39-years; 37.56.6), Vern Havens (26-39 years; 37:58) and Steve Montgomery (50-59-years; 38:59) also participated.

The festive event drew about 5,000 more runners than last year's inaugural event.

The proceeds from Pat's Run, about $350,000, will benefit the Pat Tillman Foundation that was founded after his death. His widow, Marie, said the foundation was created "to honor Pat's memory and carry forward his legacy.

"Our goal is to inspire and support others that live their lives with a similar spirit and strive for positive change," she said. "Like Pat, the foundation bearing his name is deliberate in developing planned courses of action and will focus its initial efforts on educating America's next generation of leaders with the ethical foundation and critical-thinking skills they need to drive positive change in themselves and their communities."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.