Decades of hard core running experience will buoy Carolyn Fruth when she bursts off the starting line of Pat’s Run and charges over the 4.2-mile Tempe course that wraps up on the 42-yard line in Sun Devil Stadium.
The know-how the 46-year-old mother of two can call upon includes successfully competing in the 2010 Ford Arizona Ironman ultra distance triathlon, the Boston Marathon, Ragnar Relay, Deuces Wild Ironman Festival, Payson Sprint Triathlon, P.F. Chang’s Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon, New Times 10K, a bevy of town-sponsored 5K events and almost every Pat’s Run in the seven-year history of the event.
This year’s Pat’s Run will be held April 16 near the campus of Arizona State University.
Over the years Fruth has been the pride of the Rim Country in Pat’s Run, usually turning in some of the fastest times in her age/sex group and among the Payson runners who enter.
Last year, her time of 31:03 placed her 11th in her division and best among locals.
Her highest finish occurred several years ago when she was fourth in the 40-42-years age group.
Fruth, like many of the other locals who enter Pat’s Run, do so in part to honor the sacrifices of Pat Tillman and other military men and women.
Almost everyone has heard the story of Tillman — the former Arizona State University and Arizona Cardinals football star who gave up a lucrative million dollar professional contract to join the Army Rangers. He was killed April 22, 2004 in action in Afghanistan.
Following his death, Pat’s Run was organized as a way to honor him and other military men and women.
The proceeds from Pat’s Run benefit the Pat Tillman Foundation, which has a mission to “educate 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.”
While Fruth often carries the Rim Country banner as one of the fastest of the locals, there are plenty of others who have competed over the years.
Among them is Carolyn’s husband, Tim, who is entered in the 2011 event.
Other Payson participants have included Ashton Wolf, Jeff Sokol, Miles Huff, Shannon Bilke, Henry Thomason, Vern Havens, Steve Montgomery, Kay Foster, Maureen Griffin, Tiffany Harold, Chris Harold and Farrell Poer.
This year, PHS teacher and coach Ryan St. John is expected to enter for the first time.
Each year, the running field grows larger. The inaugural run in 2005 drew 4,000 runners, which grew a year later to 6,000 and two years later to about 15,000.
The event now draws in excess of 20,000 entrants.
The run begins at 7 a.m. just north of Sun Devil Stadium at the corner of Rio Salado Parkway and Packard Drive.
The course winds through the streets of Tempe and ends at the finish line on the 42-yard line on Frank Kush Field inside Sun Devil Stadium.
The finish is symbolic of the No. 42 Tillman wore as a Sun Devil.
In addition to the 4.2-mile event, there is a Pat’s Kids Run of .42 miles for children ages 12 and under that also finishes on the 42-yard line in the stadium.
Following the runs, participants and their families and friends gather outside the stadium to take in the Finish Line Expo, which features entertainment, refreshments, and interactive Kids Corner and more than 40 local and national vendors.
The expo also represents a chance for the public to meet and greet Sun Devil football players who are in attendance wearing their game jerseys.
In addition to the run in Tempe, Pat’s Run Shadow Runs will be held April 16 in cities and towns around the country including San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Show Low — the smallest town participating.
To register, log on to: http://www.pattillmanfoundation.org/pats-run/race-info/