Refusing to have their spirits dampened by the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 180 others, 30,000 runners, walkers and volunteers turned out April 20 for the Ninth Annual Pat’s Run.
The Rim Country has traditionally been well represented in the annual event and this year was no exception, as local runners of all ages and abilities traveled to near Arizona State University in Tempe to compete in the 4.2-mile run. Among them was Payson High School track and field coach Bo Althoff — a former three-sport star at PHS who continues to hold the school pole vaulting record.
Althoff competed with his wife Heather and family friend Carol Lyn Ryden. All three crossed the finish line on the 42-yard line on Frank Kush Field in Sun Devil Stadium within seconds of one another — at about 49:50.
Mark Smith, 70, represented the Rim Country well, finishing first in the 70-99 years division in 32:22. Henry Lopez, 73, was fourth in the division in 36:02.
Bob Young, 54, a part-time resident of Payson turned in a very respectable clocking of 27:27 and was 12th in the 50-59 years age group.
Pat’s Run was a tune up for Young who plans on competing in the upcoming Zane Grey 50-mile run that ultra marathoners consider among the most grueling races in the country.
Former Payson-Pine resident Gerry Foster, 46, — now a Desert Vista High School biology teacher who has competed in all nine Pat’s Runs — finished in 29:25
Over the years, Rim Country runners have turned in exceptional performances in Pat’s Run including Carolyn Fruth’s several top-three finishes in the 40-42 age division.
In 2006, 13-year-old Ashton Wolf was second in her age group and a year later Kay Foster, a grandmother of eight was 16th among the 60-plus entrants.
In 2010, former PHS star football lineman Chris Harold, then 34, carried the banner of guards and tackles well, lumbering over the course in 33:30.
About Pat’s Run
The race is run each year in memory of Pat Tillman, who, following the 9-11 terrorist attacks, turned in his Arizona Cardinals NFL jersey in favor of one of an Army Ranger. Tillman was killed in 2004 by friendly fire in Afghanistan.
Following his death, friends and family founded Pat’s Run as a way of celebrating his courageous spirit and dedication.
The race distance of 4.2 miles and finish line on the 42-yard line in Sun Devil Stadium were chosen because Tillman wore the jersey No. 42 when he started for the Arizona State University Sun Devils, eventually earning Pac-10 Defensively Player of the Year honors.
Pat’s Run is the major fund-raiser for the Tillman Foundation, which provides assistance to servicemen and their families.
Following last week’s bombings at the Boston Marathon, there were concerns Pat’s Run would become a target for copycat attacks.
But, law enforcement officials beefed up security, eventually banning backpacks and bags and the suspicions proved unfounded as the run went off without a hitch.