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16th Annual Pat's Run Goes Virtual Due To Social Distancing

By Amanda Luberto
Published: Friday, April 17, 2020 - 1:02pm
Updated: Friday, April 17, 2020 - 1:03pm

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the finish line at pat
Amanda Luberto/KJZZ
Pat’s Run is a 4.2-mile race in Tempe in honor of football player, veteran and ASU alumni Pat Tillman.

A lot of things have changed with the coronavirus. Movie premieres have been pushed back, sports seasons remain in limbo and concert tours have been put on hold.

But some things haven’t been cancelled. They just look a little different this year to avoid spreading disease, like Pat’s Run: the annual 4.2-mile race in Tempe in honor of football player, veteran and ASU alumni Pat Tillman.

This is the 16th year for the run, which raises money for academic scholarships for those involved in the military.

The run’s popularity has grown along with its community. But this year, instead of the usual gathering of runners, the race is going virtual. Participants can use an app to track their run, and they’re encouraged to share their socially distanced run on social media.

Dan Futrell is the CEO of the Tillman Foundation. He says that going virtual this year has actually helped them.

“The day we announced that we were converting Pat’s Run 2020 into a virtual run, we saw a 10x increase in the amount of people signing up to be a remote runner," Futrell said. "So we have seen some people drop off, we’ve also seen a lot of other folks reach out and say hey thank you for doing this because I wasn’t going to come to Tempe to attend this run, but now I can attend.”

Every year there are honorary runs in different cities across the U.S. Brad Webb helped organize the New York run. Webb says that even though they were never going to be running in Tempe, things are still different this year. 

“Through our chapter social media, we’ve requested that folks post pictures of whether they’re just wearing Pat Tillman gear or Tillman foundation apparel or if they’re running or — you know, I might actually instead of running, I might just do like a 42-minute workout," Webb said.

Karen Donald, on the other hand, hasn’t missed a single Pat’s Run since it started. She met Tillman when he was on the Arizona Cardinals and said the run is now a tradition. She says it will be very strange running solo, without the grand atmosphere, but it’s more about the message than the location.

“If you get deep down into it, it’s his memory and what he stood for and it’s for the scholarships in his memory and so when you kinda look at it, it doesn’t matter where you do it, as long as you do it," Donald said.

The 16th annual Pat’s Run is Saturday.

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