As the weather shifts away from summer’s stifling heat to fall’s cooler temperatures, Tempe is off to a running start with its annual marathon and triathlon season.
The Nathan Tempe Triathlon on Sept. 25 marked the unofficial beginning of race season, which typically ends in April and includes more than 20 other community-wide outdoor endurance competitions, such as the Tour de Tempe, Ford Ironman Arizona.
Sue Taaffe, community outreach marketing coordinator for Tempe, said the Tour de Tempe, which will be held at Kiwanis Park on Oct. 23, is a fun, leisurely event for families.
“It’s a community bike ride for anyone of any skill level,” Taaffe said. “We have people as young as age two in one of those bike trailers behind their parents, to people in their 90s bicycling.”
The event will feature a free 10-mile ride through Tempe to encourage participants to consider alternative means of transportation, Taaffe said.
Travis Dray, the deputy community services director for Tempe, said the city draws racing events because of its design and major landmarks, such as Tempe Town Lake.
“Just the culture here in Tempe, it’s a very athletic city in my opinion,” Dray said.
Dray said events such as Ford Ironman Arizona also inject money into the Tempe economy.
Dray said the 2,000 participants that come from out of town to tackle the 140-mile race bring anywhere from $4 million to $5 million per year to Tempe, not including residents who spend money on training here all year long.
“I think it means a lot economically. You can see that just by coming into one of the bike shops we have,” Dray said. “It’s a small city with a big feel.”
Kinesiology junior Melissa Iwata said she has participated in both Pat’s Run, an April event, and P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon, a January race.
Iwata said the races around Tempe bring a sense of community because many are used to raise money for important causes.
“I definitely think they do bring a sense of community,” Iwata said. “Everyone is coming together from all different parts of Tempe, from all different stories and all coming together to run for one purpose. I think that is really cool.”
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org