Don Branaman was new to running when the Cinco de Mayo 10K got its start 33 years ago.
The retired firefighter has run in every one since.
"It's a great race to attract a lot of newcomers to running," said Branaman, who serves on the board of the nonprofit Southern Arizona Roadrunners, which hosts the event.
The course is scenic, with gentle hills. The event is well organized, he said, and offers nice prizes including full-sized margarita glasses and gift certificates. And it's followed by a Mexican burrito breakfast, a mariachi band and kids activities. It all makes for a nice start to the day.
Organizers expect 1,000 people to run and walk on May 5.
That first year, Branaman was one of about 250 runners. The race started at Fort Lowell Park, 2900 N. Craycroft Road, and headed east on River Road.
The course has changed a few times over the years, but has been at Cholla High Magnet School more than a decade.
There is also a 2-mile fun run and walk, and walkers get a half-hour head start on the 10K.
Branaman was about 38 when he started running. "I needed to lose weight and I picked up a book at the swap meet for 10 cents, "Positive Addiction" (by William Glasser)," he said.
Branaman embraced the concept that running at least five days a week for two years would lead to positive change. He started walking and running around the park near his house, then worked up to 10 miles a day seven days a week.
"I haven't missed a day of running in the 35 years since I started," said Branaman, now 74.
The biggest change in Tucson's running scene that he has noticed over the years is the increase in the number of women taking part.
The Cinco de Mayo run attracts runners and walkers of all ages - from teens to people in their 80s, said Mary Lasser, who co-directs the race with Kara Middendorf.
The event also draws a fair number of participants each year from Better Than Ever, the University of Arizona Cancer Center's fitness training program that raises money to support research.
Another tradition that has evolved is the challenge to see which runner can wear the oldest Cinco de Mayo T-shirt.
Branaman estimated that there are about 15 to 20 others who have taken part from the very beginning.
If you go
• What: Dr. Gann's Diet of Hope Cinco de Mayo 10K and 2-mile fun run and walk.
• When: 6:30 a.m. (walkers) 7 a.m. (runners) May 5.
• Where: Cholla High Magnet School, 2001 W. Starr Pass Blvd.
• Cost: $32 until 11:59 p.m. Friday; $37 through race day. Includes a technical shirt and traditional post-race breakfast featuring hot breakfast burritos from El Saguarito Mexican Food, a mariachi band and more. For the kids: a sombrero-topped race, pinata, jumping castle and water balloon toss.
• Register: Online at active.com or in person from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. May 4 at TriSports, 4495 S. Coach Drive; or from 5:30-6:30 a.m. race day at Cholla High Magnet School. Only cash or checks are accepted for payment in person.