Weekend Run Celebrates Pat Tillman

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For a few hours Saturday, set aside the newspaper headlines clamoring about the military cover-up of Pat Tillman's death by friendly fire in April 2004 in Afghanistan.

Instead, focus on Tillman's vibrant spirit by competing in the Third Annual Pat's Run, slated to begin 8 a.m. just north of Sun Devil Stadium on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe.

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Pat Tillman

Each year, since the inception of the run, enthusiasts from around the Rim Country have descended on Tempe to participate in the festive event.

They've come from all facets of life -- old, young, fast and not so fast.

Those who have participated know the run is different than other long-distance events, in that most who enter are not the hard-core, zero-percent body fat runners you might see speeding along the Valley canal banks.

Instead, the runners are Average Joes who break the stereotypical mold that most envision long-distance runners to be.

In fact, some of the runners don't normally work out or adhere to physical training regimes.

Last year, a runner at the start of the race promised, "I might pass out, but I will finish."

That was the spirit event organizers had in mind when Pat's Run was founded, as a way to honor the former Arizona State University and Arizona Cardinals football star who gave up a $3.8 million pro contract to become an Army Ranger.

The inaugural run drew about 4,000 runners, which grew to 6,000-plus last year. Tomorrow, the run is expected to draw record-setting numbers.

As fun as the race is, it's the festivities before and after that lend an air of celebration for Tillman's life.

The post-race events in Sun Devil stadium parking lot include a stage with live bands, food, drinks and carnival rides for the kids. Expect ASU football players and possibly Phoenix Suns to be on hand to sign autographs and lend moral support.

A silent auction to benefit the Pat Tillman foundation will also be held.

Most who participate in Pat's Run hang around Sun Devil Stadium for hours afterward, enjoying the revelry and making new friends.

Of course, it is the finish of the race that sends tingles down the spine as runners sprint into the north entrance of Sun Devil stadium and onto the beautifully manicured grass field. Fans cheer most every runner and the JumboTron screen projects images of entrants as they approach the finish line.

The race concludes at the 42-yard line on Sun Devil field, an ideal spot because Tillman wore the No. 42 during his playing days at ASU. His number also inspired organizers to choose 4.2 miles as the race distance and .42 miles for a kid's race held immediately afterward.

Although the deadline for the entry fee of $25 has passed, runners can enter on race day for $30. Registration booths will be set up near the start line.

For more information, visit www.patsrun.com.

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