People show up early in Tempe and prepare for the 5K run on April 22, 2017. Patrick Breen/azcentral.com
Over the past 13 years, Pat’s Run has become more than just an event for athletes. It’s a family affair.
Saturday, this family of more than 28,000 came together at Arizona State University in Tempe for the 4.2-mile race that is the the signature fundraising event of the Pat Tillman Foundation, which provides academic scholarships for military veterans and their spouses. Tillman, who played for the ASU Sun Devils from 1994-97, left a football career with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals in 2002 to join the U.S. Army. He was killed in Afghanistan in 2004.
The race was launched to benefit the foundation and honor Tillman as athlete, scholar, soldier and leader.
Being a role model
Marvin Pettet arrived at Pat’s Run decked out in Spider-Man gear.
He wore a shirt that looked like it had similar webbing to a real costume as well as blue shorts, long red socks and red shoes. His 18-month-old son, Landon, also had a Spider-Man shirt on.
“I have a running club at my school, so usually I’m here with my students,” he said. “This is the first time I’m without students, so I kind of get to dress how I want to dress.”
Pettet, a PE teacher, said he used to weigh 270 pounds. In 2012, he decided he should “practice what he preaches” and got into running obstacle courses such as the Spartan Race and Warrior Dash. He said he maintains a weight at about 200 pounds now.
Pettet encourages his students, kindergartners to eighth-graders, to run as well. He’s taken groups to Pat’s Run in the past.
Including the next generation
While Cardinals running back David Johnson cued the fastest runners to start just after 7 a.m., a sellout 28,000 participants waited behind in different lines. Sections designated with signs and barricades marked where each group of 1,000 people should wait. This helped stem the flow of people pushing through the starting line.
With little room at the end, many people with children and strollers stood around the outskirts of the line. Kathy Goff was in the middle of this group holding her 3-year-old granddaughter.
“It’s just invigorating and lots of people and fun, and I can do it with my whole family,” she said.
There were 2,500 places for children in the kids’ run.
“My daughter’s running and I’m with my granddaughter,” Goff said. “My grandson does it, my husband. All sorts of family.”
Sarah Borden, 20, was also there for family. She said her dad was in the Navy for 30 years and her 26-year-old brother also enlisted.
She said her dad runs the Pat Tillman Veterans Center at ASU. The center assists student veterans throughout their university careers, providing assistance with academic support services, housing, counseling, disability resources and career services.
“He’s kind of gotten all of us into it,” Borden said of her dad. “It’s kind of cool. He (Tillman) was a great guy, and it’s fun to listen to the stuff that they’re doing to honor him.”
The finish line for Pat’s Run this year was back inside Sun Devil Stadium, as it has been for most of the race’s history. In 2016, the finish line was outside because of a stadium renovation project.
Roads in the area were to be closed or restricted for several hours.
- Packard Drive closed in both directions between Sixth Street and Rio Salado Parkway.
- Rio Salado Parkway closed in both directions between Rural Road and Ash Avenue.
- Mill Avenue closed northbound between Third Street and Washington Street/Curry Road.
- Loop 202 eastbound off-ramp at Rural/Scottsdale Road closed.
- Loop 202 westbound on-ramp at Rural/Scottsdale Road closed.
- Loop 202 westbound off-ramp at Rural/Scottsdale Road restricted to northbound traffic only.
Sparky the Sun Devil helps runners get off on the right foot at the sold-out 2017 Pat’s Run on April 22, 2017. Hannah Gaber/azcentral.com
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