This race is also known as “that time I sprinted past Larry Fitzgerald at the finish line” but more on that later…
First off, this was my first time participating in this iconic Arizona running event. I had heard from many friends that it was really cool and a must do for any runner. it’s a 4.2 mile race in honor of Pat Tillman. You can read more about his story here.
After registering I also decided to sign up for a volunteer position to hand out race packets. That turned out to be a great decision and it was really fun to get to see the behind the scenes for such a big race.
Fast forward to Saturday morning – After picking up Ari and Julie we managed to find a stellar parking spot in a not so crowded parking structure (although I was slightly scared that my truck wouldn’t be able to fit at first..).
There were tons of people (about 28,000) all trying to make their way to their respective corrals, so the starting line area was quite crowded and hectic. We found our way to corral 8, listened to the announcements and national anthem. Slowly but surely we made our way to the starting line – and about 2 corrals ahead of ours they gave a shout out to Larry Fitzgerald and he got his own special start. Before long it was our turn and we were off!
The weather forecast was for 100+ degrees. Not my idea running climate, but heck there wasn’t much to to about it! Immediately I could feel the sun beating down on me – but I told myself to run fast before it got too hot out Right out of the gate we immediately knew we had to run faster to get through the crowds. There were so many people in front of us that were walking – I am not sure how they got in a sub 9 min/mile corral but it was really frustrating. We had to scramble to run around all of the walkers.
The 3 of us tried to stick together, but we ended up losing Ari around the 3/4 mile mark since she wasn’t feeling well that morning and she waved us ahead. And I think it was partially due to the fact that we started off with around a 7:30 pace! Julie and I clocked in our first mile at 8:13 – which was a bit faster than anticipated.
Mile’s 2 & 3 had a few hills (okay that first was was brutal) but we managed to keep up a good pace. I also perfected my skills of drinking water from water stations while still running (a race first for me!). Mile 2 was 8:49 and Mile 3 was 8:42.
Mile 4 is when we started to head towards the stadium and the path narrowed – the crowds were a little hard to get through at the pace we were running. Luckily Julie and I were able to weave a little but still keep sight of one another. Mile 4 came in at 8:55. When we entered the stadium we agreed that we’d sprint once we reached the grass, until we crossed the 42 yard line (aka finish line).
As soon as I touched the field I sprinted ahead – there was a clear path to the right and I followed it all the way through to the finish! Right after crossing the finish line Julie told me that we had just run past Larry Fitzgerald at the finish – and some of the football players on the sideline cheering yelled “look at those girls passing Fitzgerald!” Hah! I love it :)
My official chip time was 35:27! Two minutes faster than my goal time :) Julie and I rested for a minute and stood there in awe of the stadium before we left to the exit. After Julie left, I reunited with Ari and we exchanged race stories. Poor girl was sick the entire race and could barely finish – but she did, I am so proud of her! We also said hi to Stacey and chatted with her about her race, then Emily randomly ran up to us to say hi during the last bit of her race! It was fun to see so many of my running buddies after the race!
I really liked this race – both for the cause and for the uniqueness of the event. There is a lot of hype about it and it brings out the people who don’t usually run! I also realized that this race marks the 1 year date of when I started running, which is super exciting! I hope to do it again next year too :)