Thousands hit the streets for race through downtown Tucson - Tucson News Now

Thousands hit the streets for race through downtown Tucson

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The size of the annual Meet Me Downtown 5k Night Runcontinues to grow each year, and organizers believe so does its contribution tothe Old Pueblo's downtown economy.

Roughly 3,500 people registered for the event, now in itsninth year. An incredible increase in participants compared to the race's firstyear, which recorded about 400 people.

"This is the biggest race I've ever been in, so it wasreally fun," said Caleb Wenzel.

With his family beside him, the race was just the beginningfor a Saturday night.

"I haven't been downtown in a while so it brought me out,"said Sheri Wenzel. "We're going hang out after and get something to eat."

Rachel Chapman said the event is a great way to reintroducefamilies living around Tucson to the downtown area and help to build the communityfeel.

"Downtown has kind of grown a lot in the past couple years,"she said. "I think all these people just bring Tucson together."

But it's not all about the local runners, joggers andwalkers. Participants this year included teams from around Arizona, Mexico and anindividual who represented Great Britain in the Olympics. 

Organizers Randy Accetta said the goal is to make the racenationally known.

"It's hard to make Tucson a destination in May or June," hejoked. "But it's a great time of year in Tucson so we have people staying atall sorts of hotels downtown."

Those overnight guests include Gabriel Gomez who made thetrip from Phoenix. He said he's thrilled to join the event and spend time withfamily.

"I don't see too many night races in Phoenix, so it was niceto get out here," said Gomez.

Organizers handed out several checks to local non-profits.Accetta said the focus is always on agencies that work with children, educationor both.

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