sábado, 28 de abril de 2012

Raising Awareness in Phoenix, Arizona

               Guest Post by Matthew Maddix


Growing up in the Phoenix Metro Area there are a few things you learn at a young age to be certain: it’s incredibly hot in the summer, wear sunscreen, drink lots of water, and “Go Devils!” This latter bit of knowledge led me to, amongst other things, a University education, a degree in Engineering, and a lasting friendship with Christina, on behalf of whom I write this. 

I’m not sure how much the name Pat Tillman resonates outside of the state of Arizona, but here, especially in the Phoenix Metro area, it holds a place of reverence like few others. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story of Pat Tillman, I highly recommend you check out “Where Men Win Glory” by John Krakenaur. For the short version, Pat Tillman was the underdog everything that walked on to the American Football team at Arizona State University (home of the Sun Devils) only to become a starting linebacker on a Rose Bowl team to be drafted at the end of the NFL draft only to become a starting Safety in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals; and then the events of September 11, 2001 happened, and he gave up his entire life, along with his brother Kevin, to enlist in the Army and go fight the war in Afghanistan. In April of 2004, Pat was killed by friendly fire after a raid that was ordered from people thousands of miles away sitting at desks, despite the pleas and reluctance of Pat’s commanding officer to perform the maneuver (for more or on the specifics, I recommend the aforementioned book as well as the documentary “The Tillman Story”).

Every year on the third Saturday in April, thousands of people gather in Tempe, Arizona (home of Arizona State University and, during Pat’s time with the team, the Arizona Cardinals) to run/walk a 4.2 mile race throughout Tempe, culminating on the 42 yard line of Sun Devil Stadium.  The complete route is displayed below:

Pat's Run Route

This year, there were 28000 registrants and approximately 10000 spectators and volunteers. The numbers 4.2 and 42 are used in homage of the uniform number Pat wore whilst playing for the Sun Devils. 

The route traces the northern most parts of Tempe, but includes some of Pat’s favourite locations. The starting point is on Packard Drive, between Sun Devil Stadium and Packard Stadium (the baseball stadium, where Kevin Tillman played and Pat was a frequent visitor). Then, quickly on the way is Rio Salado Drive, a winding road with myriad views and buildings. At the corner of Rio Salado and Mill Ave, there is the old Flour Mill. One of Tempe’s oldest landmarks, it predates the city and state itself and was built by Charles T. Hayden, who was a prominent force in the foundation of Tempe. There is currently a legal battle raging about whether or not to repaint the Mill.

Hayden Flour Mill stands as a reminder of Tempe’s storied past and the influence it has today.
A pub just on the other side of the Mill, Rula Bula, was one of Pat’s favourite hangouts during his time in Tempe. To this day, his own, personal pint glass sits at the bar. Rula Bula partners with the Tillman Foundation to bring Pint’s For Pat wherein people may go and purchase a Guinness pint glass for 10$ with all proceeds going to the Tillman Foundation. Additionally, there is also a silent auction to raise funds for the Tillman Foundation. 

Back on the race route, to the right of the pubs, we turn down the legendary Mill Avenue and we begin to go over Mill Bridge.  On the left is Tempe Towne Lake and Tempe Beach Park. These hold numerous events throughout the year including concerts and races. Off in the distance, a handful of miles down the road is Downtown Phoenix.  To the right of the bridge is Tempe, and further in the distance, the neighbouring town of Mesa waits.

 Tempe Beach Park – Off in the distance, behind the train bridges, is downtown Phoenix.

 A view of Tempe Beach Park and Downtown Tempe behind it.

 Tempe Bridge ends the first mile of the route. The bridge was finished in finished in 1931.

After finishing up Mill Bridge, it’s off to go up the inclined Curry Road. From the top of Curry Road, the Phoenix Zoo is off to the left, Scottsdale in front, Phoenix behind, and Tempe to the right. Traversing Curry is the first major challenge in the race due to its steep incline. The reward, the gorgeous views of the nearby cities and zoo, is well worth the challenge. Once down Curry, the second mile marker is up and it’s time to wind back down toward the starting area. 

A right down College Ave winds up through gorgeous parks and condominium complex. Finally you come to a forced left turn at North Tempe’s major highway, the AZ-202. We traverse the winding road next to the 202 and wind up out on Rural Road, considered the main street in Tempe. To the north, in Scottsdale, it’s known as Scottsdale Road, but in Tempe, it’s known as Rural Road. The final daunting part of the route comes in the form of Rural Bridge, a slow, but steady incline that leads to mile marker three and the final water station. After completing Rural Bridge, it’s down Rural Road to Sixth Street. After turning right on Sixth Street, the ASU Athletics Stadiums, Wells Fargo Arena and Sun Devil Stadium, come into view. Down Sixth Street a bit takes us back toward the starting point, as we turn right up Packard Drive. A little ways up, a sharp left and a sharp right, positions us alongside part of the East Butte that surrounds Sun Devil Stadium. Along the butte, the fourth mile marker comes into sight as we round the Butte and head into the stadium.

After rounding the Butte, it’s up the ramp into the Stadium Tunnel, around to the left side, and down onto the field for a spectacular finish in front of thousands of spectators and fellow runners. The magical finish illustrates how one person can have a profound impact on so many people; many of whom, myself included, never met.

The finish line on the 42 yard line of Sun Devil Stadium. The number 42 represents Pat’s Jersey Number.
After 4.2 miles, one more thing is certain: Life is worth Running for.

  Life is worth Running for!

Thanks Matthew Maddix for supporting my cause !!! 


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