Meet Me Downtown: Tucson’s Largest Annual Running Event Prepares for Tenth Year

May 13, 2016

by Kai Parmenter

Meet Me Downtown's 5k Night Run and Walk will begin in front of the Children's Museum on Sixth Avenue.

Meet Me Downtown’s 5k Night Run and Walk will begin in front of the Children’s Museum on Sixth Avenue.

Memorial Day is fast approaching, and with it comes one of Downtown’s biggest happenings: the TMC Meet Me Downtown 5k, an annual running event celebrating fitness, inclusion and the thriving center of Tucson. Yet this event isn’t limited to hardcore running types, rather everyone is encouraged to participate in some fashion.

This year’s event will take place on the evenings of Friday, May 27 and Saturday, May 28. But what exactly does Meet Me Downtown consist of?

“Friday night we have a series of one-mile run and walk events, and Saturday night we have a 5k run and walk. Both nights we have concerts and Downtown restaurants discounts, jumping castles and kid’s activities,” says Race Director Randy Accetta. The result will be a “fitness-based Downtown party.”

So what’s new this year? According to Accetta, this is the first time Meet Me Downtown will include the aforementioned Friday activities. “It used to be just Saturday night,” says Accetta. “When we started, it was just the 3.1 mile walk/run.”

The addition of Friday, dubbed the Friday Night Festival of Miles, will comprise a series of one-mile runs, including a free children’s run. Also featured is the Tucson Tutu Mile, and another new event called the Battle of the Badges. “We’ve invited all of Tucson civil service—police, fire, Border Patrol, FBI—to compete against each other in a friendly one-mile run or walk.”

Hotel Congress will host an afterparty on its patio immediately following the 5k Night Run and Walk.

Hotel Congress will host an afterparty on its patio immediately following the 5k Night Run and Walk.

Additionally, there’s the prize money to contend with—roughly $6,000 of it, in fact. Serving as the RRCA Arizona State One Mile Championship, the Run Tucson Friday Night Festival of Miles will include over $2,300 in prize money. Meanwhile, the TMC Meet Me Downtown 5k Night Run—the main event, and the RRCA’s 5k West Regional Championship—carries over $3,600 in prize money, and will also include medallions, age-specific awards and more.

Of course, the event remains a benefit for various Tucson-based organizations. Observing its 10th anniversary this year, Meet Me Downtown has now raised over $130,000 for local charities, including Living Streets Alliance, the Children’s Museum Tucson, the Educational Enrichment Foundation and many others.

“Next year we’ve been named the National Championship for the road mile,” says Accetta. “And we’re part of a national series called Bring Back the Mile.” Yet despite of the event’s prominence, or its myriad offering of activities, Accetta has not lost sight of the core purpose of this year’s Meet Me Downtown. “We’re always trying to have fun with free events for kids and families, and then prize money for fast runners, and then honoring our civil servants,” says Accetta.

Himself an avid runner, Randy Accetta participated in the 1996 US Olympic Trials Marathon, and is currently the national Director of Coaching Education for the Road Runner Club of America. Accetta founded Meet Me Downtown with his wife Tia a decade ago. “I’m the guy who puts it on,” say Accetta. “My wife Tia is known in town as one of the better runners, and is sort of a role model for folks. We’re partnered with the Southern Arizona Roadrunners, our local running club.”

For more information on the 2016 TMC Meet Me Downtown Memorial Day Weekend, visit their webpage here, or contact Race Director Randy Accetta at randy@runtucson.net.

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