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By Susan Call

Bill DurbinWith the recent terrifically bad news about the Boston Marathon, it is no surprise that Tucson’s local marathon, the Mount Lemmon Marathon, got short shrift in the local press. In fact, there was no reporting at all about this unique event, except to warn of the possible traffic congestion for Sunday morning going up Mount Lemmon. The race is called “one of the toughest road marathons in the world,” probably because it is all uphill. The race, covering a distance of 26.1 miles, also involves a vertical climb of 5,850 feet in elevation. No wonder it is called tough!

Sunday’s event, April 28, saw hundreds of runners, starting early in the morning to beat the heat and to run up the mountain. There were actually three races: the full Marathon (starting at the base of the Mount Lemmon highway, Catalina Highway), the Half-Marathon (starting at Windy Point) and the 10K Run (which started near the Palisades Ranger Station).

Participating were at least two folks connected to Civano:Bill Durbin, newly appointed member of the Civano HOA, and his granddaughter Melanie McGrath. Bill started running races only this year, and this was his fourth race. He credits his granddaughter, a runner and a graduating senior at the University of Arizona, with inspiring him to run. Both of them are most outstanding folks—and both were winners in their categories!

Runners on Mount Lemmon

Runners on Mount Lemmon.
Photo courtesy Tucson Medical Center Mount Lemmon Marathon.

Bill’s time of 2 hours 50 minutes not only made him a winner in the Men 70+ category (never mind that he was the only one in the group), but his time also put him in the middle of the pack of folks racing against him who were mostly 20 to 40 years younger. His granddaughter came in first in her category of women 20 to 24, also in the Half-Marathon, beating her granddad’s time by nearly 40 minutes. It also turned out that she placed 4th among all women runners, with a time good enough to place 32nd over all.

Bill’s wife, Miste, anxiously awaited the news of their successful finish down in Tucson. With poor cell phone coverage on Mount Lemmon, she didn’t learn for a few hours that both her husband and granddaughter not only finished the race safely, but won in their categories.

Bill has been an avid cyclist as well, for about ten years, and has participated in many long, multiple-day road races in other parts of the country. His recent interest in running doesn’t seem to detract from his enjoyment of cycling. When you see Bill around Civano, maybe at the morning coffee in the rotunda, do offer your congratulations to him. He’s certainly an inspiration!