45th TMC Saguaro National Park Labor Day 8-Miler and 5k Walk/Run

Monday, September 1, 2014  /  8 mile & new 5k


Registration is now open for the 45th Annual TMC Saguaro race scheduled for Labor Day Monday, September 1st, 2014.

This scenic course and the post-race festivities truly embrace the spirit of the old Southwest, making the 45th Saguaro National Park Labor Day Run a regional favorite. Our rolling 8-mile and 5k courses loop through a cactus forest in the foothills of the scenic Rincon Mountains at Saguaro National Park East. This event has been featured as a Runner’s World Race of the Month.  Prize money, age group awards, and nifty super-cool t-shirt. The 8-miler is the RRCA Arizona State Championship and is part of The Running Shop Grand Prix, produced by SAR.  The Saguaro Labor Day Run is the second leg of the 2014 Gabe Zimmerman Triple Crown.

Here is a quick overview of the 2013 race . . .
Craig Curley Romps to Easy Victory in Second-Fastest Time in 44 Year-History of Saguaro Race.
Craig Curley won the TMC Saguaro National Park Labor Day 8-Miler on Monday, running the second fastest time in the 44-year history of the race.  Running alone through the light mist and distant lightening of Saguaro National Park East, his time of 41:43 narrowly missed his own course record of 41:39, set when he was a Pima Community College student in 2008.  Using the race as a training run for the US National Marathon Championships next month in Twin Cities, Curley won $424 for his efforts on the hilly 8-mile loop. 

Second place in the field of 900 runners went to Benson’s Trent Binford-Walsh in 43:59, while Stephen Schaefer, the 2011 champion, took third place in 46:08. 

Amy Cole, a University of Arizona graduate student, took first place for the women in a time of 53:25 for her first victory at Saguaro.  Second place went to former University of Montana runner, Aleta Jokisch, running in her first Tucson race.  Margaret Smith, stationed at Fort Huachuca, took third place in 56:46.

Shane Carr defended his crown in the men’s 5k, while Jennifer Garcia-Girvan was the first place woman in the 5k.

Seven Arizona state 8-mile records were set on the day.

Produced by the Southern Arizona Roadrunners with help from more than 100 volunteers, Saguaro raised over $10,000 for local charities, including Friends of Saguaro National Park and Child and Family Resources.

Full results can be seen at http://www.azroadrunners.org/results/detail/saguaro_national_park_labor_day_run_results_2013.

8-Mile Results
1.  Craig Curley (25)  41:43
2.  Trent Binford-Walsh (24) 43:59
3.  Stephen Schaefer (22) 46:08
4.  Damon Vasiliw (25) 46:18
5.  Kurt Michels (29)  47:50

1.  Amy Cole (29) 53:25
2.  Aleta Jokisch (23)  54:18
3.  Margaret Smith (33) 56:46
4.  Anne Neuenschwander (40) 56:54
5.  Stephanie Wenneborg (40) 57:15

Arizona 8-Mile State Age Group Records
Samantha Andrade (F16)
Debra Lazar-Pearl (F54)
Nancy Fuller (F63)
Craig Curley (M25)
Richard Kutzner (M70)
Paul Robillia (M76)
Leonard Moore (M78)

August 21 Update
* Mail-in registration is now closed—register online here
* 109 slots remain for the TMC Saguaro National Park Labor Day Run - sign up online here
* In-person t-shirt and race number pick up will be held at The Running Shop (3055 N Campbell - map) on Saturday, August 31, 2013 from 10am - 3pm and at the race site on Monday, September 2 from 5:15 - 6:00 AM
* TMC, Sprouts Farmers Market, and JulieBar are providing post-race snacks at the TMC Saguaro Labor Day Run—run, get tired, then eat . . .
* Unofficial training runs at Saguaro, every Sunday morning in August, at 6:00 am. All ages and abilities welcome—just come and run or walk on your own! Bring your own water, car-pool if you can, park legally, and bring the Park fee!
* Get ready for the hill: A-Mountain Training Runs every Monday night at Meet Me at Maynard’s—starting at 5:45 from Hotel Congress
* Hill workouts every Wednesday night at Meet Me at La Encantada—be at MMLE by 5:45 Wednesday’s nights
* Last-chance registration for the 2013 Gabe Zimmerman Triple Crown ends on August 25th—sign up for the final two legs online here

RACE DIRECTOR GLORY DAYS 20TH ANNIVERSARY PRIZE MONEY: Twenty years ago I moved to Tucson for grad school at the UA and ran my first SAR race, at the time called the Saguaro National Monument Run.  (The SAR race director back then was Elisa Kinder, a monumental leader for the Tucson running community.)  Twenty years ago I got whupped over the final three miles by a guy wearing “Strapped Jock Reebok” gear, a guy who would go on to be my best friend and long-time colleague, Greg Wenneborg.  Greg is now known as the timer for all SAR events and the Pima Community College Cross Country and Track coach, but he is also a three-time Olympic Trials Marathoner who has won Saguaro 9 times. 

To recognize this 20 year anniversary, prize money is being awarded to the first runner who can beat my own time from way back when, plus an adjusted time for the women.

Thus, the first man who breaks 42:48 will receive $424.80, and the first woman who breaks 50 minutes will receive $500.

Who will do it?  Local Olympians Abdi Abdirahman or Bernard Legat?  Or Saguaro course record holder, Craig Curley?  Over the past 20 years, Greg Wenneborg has 9 victories on the course, with his first in 1992 and his most recent in 2007.  Brian Grosso and Bassirimo Soro have won it twice, with other winners over the past 20 years including Craig Curley, Jayson Fultz, Ian Johnson, Jason Colavito, Tim Finnegan, Stephen Schaefer, and Damon Vasilaw.

For the women, could it be Paula Morrison, who has won the race 5 times with a best of 50:10?  Or Amy Cole, a top runner in town?  The women’s race has been dominated by Paula, who has won it 5 times, with three-time winners Carolyn Collman and Tia Accetta, and local standouts such as Lisa Warneke, Tracy Riccitello, Caroline Gardiner, Gina Slaby, Pam Golden, and Karla Sokolovich. 

1) Thank you to all who voted for the color of the t-shirt.  The SAR facebook page lit up with your suggestions, over 160 of them.  It looks like we’ll order all three colors! 
2) Speaking of Facebook, SAR VP Tim Bentley has created an event page here —spread the word about the hardest race in Tucson!
3) There are still a few hundred spots open for the race.  You can register online here or register by mail.
4) I am sorry that our page does not have cool photos of the race, but the SAR pages are having some difficulty with photos this fall.  Click on the SAR facebook page photo album for cool photos of past races.
5) The Cortiva Institute has once again agreed to bring out massage students to provide free massage to all participants after the race.  So start running, get good and sore, and they will heal you up after the race!

Saguaro is the second race in the 2013 Gabe Zimmerman Triple Crown (including June’s TMC Meet Me Downtown 5k Night Run/Walk and October’s TMC Get Moving Tucson Half-Marathon and 5k).  To register for the Triple Crown, visit the Gabe Zimmerman Triple Crown page.  Please note, $10 from each Triple Crown entry will be donated to Gabe’s favorite non-profit, Child and Family Resources.  Additional Tucson-based organizations will receive a portion of the proceeds from the individual events. To donate directly to Child and Family Resources, click here.  To donate directly to the Gabe Zimmerman Memorial Fund established by Child and Family Resources, click here to go to their PayPal site.

Event Day Schedule
•      5:00-6:00 am Registration
•      6:20 Announce winner of the 2014 Spirit of Rob Bell Award
•      6:23 National Anthem
•      6:27 5k start
•      6:30 8-miler start
•      8:30 Kid’s Race
•      8:45 Begin Spirit of Rob Bell Award, Raffle Prizes, and Awards*

The race starting area will be crowded, so please line up according to expected pace per mile, with 5-minute milers at the front of the line.

No dogs are allowed, so please don’t bring the pooch!  For safety sake, strollers are OK in the 5k, but not the 8-miler.  Wheelchair athletes are welcome—but please no bikes, roller blades or anything else with wheels. Headphones are discouraged - if you must wear them, please leave one ear free for safety.  Culligan has donated plenty of refreshing water, with aid stations at approximately 2, 4, 6, and 7 miles.  Thanks to Sahuaro High School for handling 2, 4, and 6, and the Tucson Tri-Girls for handling the 7-mile mark and the 5k turn-around.  St. Augustine High School Cross Country team will also be on the course, and we’ll also have the Ham Radio Society of Tucson on course, plus a dedicated ambulance from Rural Metro at the finish line.  Thanks to Waste Management, we have more port-o-johns than ever before, including one around the 4 mile mark. Please do not use the desert to relieve yourself: the Park Service may fine you - and a snake may bite you!!

After the race, grab a free massage from the massage therapists at the Cortiva Institute, and visit with The Running Shop, the National Park Service, Friends of Saguaro National Park, and other event partners.  In particular, please be sure to visit the Tucson Medical Center tent and snag some give-away plunder - TMC has become a leading sponsor of SAR events and their commitment to the health and wellness of our region is to be commended.

The Park Service will also have two areas to visit, so check them out - cool skulls, skins and other fun things. . . .

Interested in being a sponsor?  We’re looking for course sponsors, t-shirt sponsors, and post-event sponsors.  Join the healthiest community in Arizona!

Questions?  Email or call .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), SAR race director at 520-991-0733

Date and Time

Race Start: 6:30 a.m.

Race Distances and Courses

8 miler and 5k family walk and run at Saguaro National Park East at 3693 S. Old Spanish Trail Rd.  The course is a challenging 8 mile loop with lots of rolling hills (see course profile in photo to right). Aid stations at approximately 2, 4, 6, and 7 miles provide plenty of relief with Oasis/Culligan water.  Thanks to the Tri-Girls, Santa Rita High School, and Rincon High School for helping with the aid stations!

A family-friendly 5k, on an out-and-back flatter course is also available.  Strollers are allowed in the Fun Run/Walk only, but please, no bicycles, wheelchairs, skateboards, strollers, roller-skates, or pets allowed in the 8-miler. The 8M course closes at 8:30 a.m.

IMPORTANT: Saguaro is known for its hilly course and hot temperatures—please prepare accordingly: practice hills, acclimate to the heat, bring water, wear cool clothing, and adjust your pace to account for the demands of the race.

Unofficial training runs will take place every Saturday in August.  See the SAR homepage for more details during the summer.


Saguaro National Park East at 3693 S. Old Spanish Trail Rd.  Please note: The race is at Saguaro National Park EAST!

Race Fees

8 Mile Race*  (NOTE: 8-mile race capped at 1,100)
All by 3/31/14           $25_________ (SAR member, take $5 off)
All by 6/30/14       $35_________
All by 7/31/14 $40_________
All after 7/31/14 $45 _________

5k Run/Walk *  (NOTE: 5k capped at 300)  Children under 10 are free with no t-shirt
All until 7/31/14           $25_________
All after 8/1/14 $30_________

No refunds: Please note that following industry standard there are no race refunds or transfers. 


  • Print Registration Form and mail it in. Registration by mail must be postmarked by Tuesday, August 20, 2013.
  • Register online with a credit card at active.com.
  • In-person t-shirt and race number pick up will be held at The Running Shop (3055 N Campbell - map) on Saturday, August 30, 2014 from 10am - 2pm.
  • Race day packet pick-up will be available at the park entrance 5:15 am-6:00am. Please arrive early enough to get your shirt and your race number on time!

Additional Details

Special recognition
The Spirit of Rob Bell Award recognizing the Tucson-area runner most exhibiting Rob Bell’s enthusiasm for running will be awarded at the starting line before the race. Presented by Performance Footwear. Click here for more information on the Rob Bell Award, including nomination information.

Park along Old Spanish Trail & Freeman Road. Please don’t block driveways or bike paths. Carpooling is strongly recommended. The earlier you arrive, the shorter your warm-up jog!

Park Fee
The National Park Service has been gracious about allowing us access to the beautiful park. The Park Service asks that all participants pay the standard $5 entry fee to the park. This amount will go directly to the National Parks Service. If you buy an annual pass to the national parks (or are under 16 years of age), this fee will be waived if you provide your permit number on your entry form. For information on an annual park pass, see visit this page, or visit any national park and inquire at entry. Race entry fees also include labor cost of additional park rangers required for the event.

Race Hotels

Tanque Verde Guest Ranch Looking for a place to spend Sunday night? Award-winning guest ranch, Tanque Verde Ranch, is offering all Saguaro participants a discounted week-end, single-night, or all-inclusive package.  Contact LeighAnn at 520-731-5562.


The Saguaro National Park 8-miler is part of SAR’s 2013 Running Shop Desert Grand Prix.


In 2014, we’re partnering with Cox Charities to provide funds to the great folks at Friends of Saguaro National Park, who will receive a portion of race proceeds to help continue their great work of ensuring a healthy and spectacular National Park.

Other beneficiaries include the cross country programs of Sahuaro High School, as well as the SAR Children’s Fitness Fund.

This is the second race in the 2014 Gabe Zimmerman Triple Crown (including the May 31 TMC Meet Me Downtown 5k Night Run/Walk and the October 19 TMC Get Moving Tucson Half-Marathon Event, including the A-Mountain Half-Marathon, the Tucson Lifestyle 5k and the Cox Charities One-Mile).  To register for the Triple Crown, visit the Gabe Zimmerman Triple Crown page.  Please note, $10 from each Triple Crown entry will be donated to Gabe’s favorite non-profit, Child and Family Resources.  Additional Tucson-based organizations will receive a portion of the proceeds from the individual events.

To donate directly to Child and Family Resources, click here.  To donate directly to the Gabe Zimmerman Memorial Fund established by Child and Family Resources, click here to go to their PayPal site.

Kids' and Post-Race Activities

Thanks to the Cortiva Institute, free massages are once again available to participants.

Community Partners

Title Sponsor: Tucson Medical Center.  A special thanks to Tucson Medical Center for all their support of the Southern Arizona Roadrunners and the local health and fitness community.  Due to TMC’s financial contribution, we’re able to have technical shirts for participants and we’re able to donate more funds to SAR’s Children’s Fitness Fund and other beneficiaries of this race.  Thanks TMC!!  Check out their Girls on the Run program, coming soon!

Race Weather

Race conditions at start are typically 75 degrees or higher, humid, clear skies, and no wind.It gets hotter later in the day . . . check out Tucson’s current conditions and forecast so you’ll be prepared!


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  • Contact the Southern Arizona Roadrunners Hotline at (520) 326-9383 for more information.
  • Race Director Randy Accetta: Call 520-991-0733 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).