The Arizona Republic
Apr. 17, 2005 12:00 AM
They pushed babies in strollers, wore beat-up shoes, had gray hair or no hair, carried packs, raced, ran, walked, struggled and finished.
Pat Tillman would have loved it.
It was run in his name. Organizers kept it simple. They called it Pat's Run. It didn't matter whether they had ever met the former Arizona State and Cardinals defender who died defending his country on a hillside in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004.
When entrants in a field of about 5,200 finished the 4.2-mile distance and crossed the 42-yard line Saturday at the south side of Sun Devil Stadium
, they talked about Tillman as though they knew him on a first-name basis.
"He had an interaction with people, an impact, that we never really knew," said St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Larry Marmie, who was with Arizona when Tillman was with the Cardinals. "Lots of people felt like they knew him and felt like they needed to be here."
Those participating, who helped raise an estimated $100,000 for the Pat Tillman Foundation
, included Keith Walters and Jessica Crate.
Walters, a reserve Army lieutenant from Scottsdale, was the men's winner with a time of 21:02. Crate, an Arizona State cross country runner from Ontario, Canada, was the women's winner at 24:13.
But the real victory was in the diverse field. Pat's Run was for everyone.
Two ex-sergeants - Kyle Hausmann and Jesse Westad - and former Specialist Justin Everett ran with boots on their feet, 40-pound military packs on their backs and 8-pound mock weapons in their hands.
All three have moved to the Valley.
Hausmann enrolled at ASU after training recruits in Fort Polk, La. Westad also is at ASU after serving in Afghanistan and Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division. Everett is at Mesa Community College, also after tours in Afghanistan and Iraq alongside Tillman's former comrades in the Army Rangers.
For them, the run was a way to salute one of their own. They crossed the 42-yard line - symbolic of Tillman's jersey number at ASU - as though they were in passing in review for an absent comrade.
For others, there were signs of Tillman's days as just another college kid. Three of them showed up, shirtless and painted in ASU's maroon and gold. Dan Anderson of Scottsdale had 'P' painted on is chest. Eric Collofello wore the 'T.'
Somewhere along the way, they had lost the 'A.' Finally, however, there it was on the chest of Wei-Chen Wang of Taiwan.
"We hadn't really met him, but we pulled him out of the dorm and talked him into it early this morning," Collofello said.
Tillman would have loved it.