Marathoners cause huge traffic jams and in general f*ck things up for other people. we can blame it on the idiots who run the government of tempe and phoenix for allowing it to happen.

Marathoners raise $6 million With nearly 34,000 participants, charitable groups were big winner

Louie Villalobos, Mike Cronin and Elias C. Arnold The Arizona Republic Jan. 16, 2006 12:00 AM

The sun was just starting to wake up Sunday morning when Pat Johnson and her team of Chicago runners and walkers gathered for one last pep talk.

Don't eat food being offered by strangers, she told them, and be sure to stick to your training plan.

Most important, she said, don't forget the hug at the finish line in Tempe.

"I don't care how sweaty you are," Johnson said. "If you don't hug me, I don't know you."

The group, part of the American Stroke Association contingency, then walked to its spot on Washington Street in downtown Phoenix to take part in this year's P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon & 1/2 Marathon. It was a race that brought out colorful characters, live music and local celebrities.

Organizers said more than 33,700 took part in the races, making it the largest group ever to participate in a combination marathon.

The day also saw a world record fall when Haile Gebrselassie,a two-time Olympic gold-medal winner with 18 world records, burst through the tape at 58:55, faster by 21 seconds than the previous world record for half-marathons.

This year's event raised more than $6 million for charities. Teams held local events to raise money. Team in Training raised $4.6 million of that for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Thousands of racers, walkers and supporters descended on downtown Phoenix to make the area around the state Capitol an endurance athlete's paradise. There were no signs of the rain many thought would dampen the atmosphere.

"The weather is perfect," Frank Shorter, a 1972 Olympic marathon gold medalist, told the runners. "The gods are shining on us."

Shorter, 58, who also won the silver medal in the 1976 Olympics, ran in the half-marathon.

So did Alex Siordian, a 14-year-old Peoria High School student. The cross-country high school athlete decided at the last minute to run the 13.1-mile race as a way to prepare for the full 26.2 miles.

"He runs like the wind. I don't know where he gets that from," said George Siordian, Alex's father. "He didn't get it from me."

On the half-marathon route near McDowell Road and Seventh Street in Phoenix, sporadic cheering erupted as spectators picked friends and relatives out of the of T-shirts and jerseys bouncing down the street.

One runner even donned a cow suit, complete with udders.

The Noisemakers, a self-proclaimed party band from the Valley, was set up on a corner, cranking out songs like Mustang Sally, Born to Be Wild and Johnny B. Goode.

The first participants in the full marathon reached the halfway mark, at 44th Street and Thomas Avenue, around 8:30 a.m.

Supporters waving signs and shouting cheers could be heard from blocks away as runners rambled down the road.

Giving inspiration, hugs Gerry Diaz, of Tucson, waited for his wife to appear from the sea of runners. He stood on the side of the road with a sign, a digital camera, and a bag full of nutrition and hydration items for his wife Susan. Their son was by his side.

"She's the strongest woman I know," he said. "These runners are a different group of people."

Gerry checked his watch a few times, worried something had prevented his wife from reaching the race milestone.

She surfaced just after 10:30 a.m. and lit up at the sight of her son, Isaiah, cheering her on from the sidelines.

Susan stopped to update the family on her progress. She was delayed by a bathroom break.

"I'm really thirsty," she said. "But I feel good."

She consumed a power gel pack for energy and some ibuprofen for her legs and a got hug for her morale then got back on the road to Tempe.

The finish line held excitement and a sense of pride.

Many runners at the finish line called it "perfect" racing weather: bright sun, blue skies and balmy temperatures in the 50s and 60s.

Hundreds of children in most colors of the rainbow bounded past Phoenix band Blue Fur during their mile-long race before 9 a.m. Cheers and cowbells engulfed the engine noise of jets flying into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Birhane Matarirria, 20, of Ethiopia, draped herself in traditional dress of orange, yellow and green and wore her nation's flag as a shawl in celebration of her countrymen.

Sara Cornell, 22, of Phoenix, puffed on a Newport 100 as she waited for her brother's girlfriend to finish. She insisted she was not alone.

"I've seen a couple other smokers around here," she said.

Wearing the same kilt he wore on his wedding day, Robert Herron crossed the half-marathon finish line with a time of 2:55.

The 53-year-old Scot from Glasgow promised he'd don what he calls "the Scottish equivalent of the tuxedo" if he raised $3,000 for the Wellness Community, a Washington-based non-profit that helps cancer victims.

Asked if he was wearing the traditional dress beneath the kilt - nothing - Herron replied, "That's for me to know and you to find out."

Ten-year-old Gehrig Schilling and his sister, Gabby, 8, insisted they would follow in the footsteps of their mommy next year.

Shonda Schilling, 38, finished the half-marathon in 2:07, shattering her goal by five minutes.

"I can't get them to clean their room," she said, "but they want to run the (one-mile) kids' race."

That left dad, Curt, 39, the only family member not interested in running.

"Not when I don't have to," said the Red Sox pitcher.

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