35th riding of El Tour de Tucson
By PJ Brown / For the Arizona Daily Star
Participants rode in the 35th El Tour de Tucson early Saturday morning, with Tucson local Rob Alvarez winning the men's 106-mile race. Here are a few of the sights and sounds from around the event.
He did it!
Twenty-six hours (actually 27 or so, but who is counting?) later, Dan Heston, was still standing. It was 6:30 a.m. and an hour to an hour-and-a-half earlier, he had completed his goal: running 106 miles to raise money to fight hunger.
While he said he was extremely tired, he looked like he could still run a few miles. His feet were a different story.
“I’ve got blisters at the bottom of both feet,” Heston said. “It is excruciating. I have nothing left.”
All he wanted to do was go home, take a shower, eat, and maybe lay on the couch the rest of the day.
Heston exceeded his goal of raising $15,000 by at least 33 percent, raising $20,000 and counting. He said: “That’s the beauty of all of this.”
What got him through the entire 106 miles? The cause, his friends who ran with him for a portion of his journey and his wife, Shannon.
“I have to give a shout out to my wife,” he said. “She was with me at 7:30 a.m. yesterday until I was done. Driving a car for that long is much harder than what I did. She didn’t take a nap and did everything for me; gave me food and water.”
The little number
Difference in winning times between last year and this year, thanks in part to calm cycling conditions. Saturday winner Rob Alvarez finished in 4 hours 3 minutes, faster than the 4:10 time of last year's winner, Hector Hugo Rangel.
Out for a ride
The Bandilla family took part in Saturday's fun ride. With a contingent of 50 plus riders wearing blue Children’s Clinics t-shirts, Sergio was walking along side of his son, Sergiel, who was riding a red bike.
This father and son duo ride together every Sunday. Saturday marked their second consecutive El Tour.
Sergiel, who is 9 years old, was excited to get started as he likes racing and is “fast, like a rabbit.”
The Badillas were among more than 800 riders who crossed the finish line and were awarded medals.
Handing out those medals were a group of 16 missionaries from the Mormon Church. Elder Kinser, 19, who was assigned to serve his two-year mission in Tucson, took on the first shift this year.
“I love doing this kind of stuff,” Kinser said. “I love to serve the community and the El Tour is a great event that brings people joy.”
The big number
Approximate number of in-person riders at Saturday's El Tour, with another 3,600 taking part in the "Indoor El Tour" remotely. Official numbers will be available later this week, an El Tour spokesperson said.
Pedal the cause
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training was back Saturday following a three-year El Tour absence. From 1996 to the present, Team in Training has raised more than $20 million at El Tour. This year they expect to add $225,000.
“We have 68 riders from all over the country riding today,” said Amy Moore, the society's senior manager of event and experience. “Not every rider is a cancer survivor, some have been touched by cancer. We have eight survivors riding this year. We provide everyone with coaches and fund raising resources.”
They participate in many cool events including running in the Rock ‘N Roll Marathon and hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro. All the Team in Training finishers of El Tour received a pin to commemorate their experience.
Riders who finished the race made a beeline for the big tubs filled with wet, cool towels from Bank of America. On the towels read #Lovehasnolabels, which is part of the ad council's campaign.
“It’s promoting inclusion,” said Maria Echeveste, SVP at Bank of America. “Instead of anti-hate, it’s love is love.”
B of A also gave away bracelets in two-packs: one for the recipient, and the other for him or her to share with someone else.
You would have thought Brian Forbes won the men’s 106-mile ride. He was smiling ear to ear 30 minutes after the race. Forbes actually finished fourth — and his best friend, Tucsonan Rob Alvarez, who took the top prize.
“We train together three to four times a week,” Alvarez said after the race. “To have your best buddy next to you just gave extra motivation. It was the icing on the cake racing with Brian today.”
Forbes called it "a lot of fun."
"Once we got to Rancho Vistoso, the fireworks happened. The whole team rotated and kept it steady," he said. "We let Rob take it and bring the win to Tucson.”
Both ride for Monster Media Racing and the whole team was in the lead pack that pulled ahead.
“At Twin Peaks we knew we were going to win, but we put our heads down and raced,” Alvarez said. “We were getting excited as we looked back and no one was there. I was pumped that everyone in the group was on the same team. It was awesome.”