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Pat’s Run is more than a race

The assignment seemed simple enough.

Do a story about the 8th annual Pat’s Run.

It made sense. I’ll be running in the event for the first
time Saturday, and it’s become enough of a staple here in
the Valley that we should have something on it for

Then I started putting the story together, and learned
there is much more to the story than I originally thought.

Sure, the run itself is important. Hunter Riley, Director
of Programs for the Pat Tillman Foundation, said they sold
out and are expecting 28,000 people for the 4.2 mile run,
and another 4,000 kids doing the .42 mile trek. Add in the
10,000 or so who will be there just to watch, and you have
a packed house in Tempe Saturday morning.

And that doesn’t even count the record 25 “shadow runs”
that will take place all over the country.

“People around the United States definitely step up and
become part of this,” Riley said.

It’s a far cry from the event’s relatively humble
beginnings in 2005.

“Year one, less than 5,000 people,” Riley said of how many
participated. “It was really about just a group of people
honoring and remembering Pat Tillman.”

Tillman, you remember, was an Arizona State Sun Devil,
Arizona Cardinal and U.S. Army Ranger who was killed in
Afghanistan in a friendly fire incident on April 22, 2004.
His death shocked the country but also opened America’s
eyes to a man whose legacy all involved hope to honor.

“We’re here to honor those who have served and sacrificed
for this nation,” Riley said. “Because of that it’s beyond
Pat right now.”

It’s beyond the run, too.