Arizona Distance Classic co-founder Gregg Forszt is calling this year his “last hurrah” with the event before he retires from Ventana Medical Systems as the company’s director of facilities. 

In collaboration with Race Director David Babner, runner and motivational speaker John Bingham, and ADC co-founder John Corbett, Forszt helped organize the ADC almost a decade ago by offering Ventana’s parking lot as the start/finish line, working with the town government, and collecting volunteers and participants for what is quickly becoming Southern Arizona’s most popular distance race.

While Forszt may no longer be involved directly as an employee of Ventana, he will never give up on the business’ advocacy against cancer, nor will he distance himself from the race he helped establish almost a decade ago.

“Next year, I’ll be participating as a runner instead of a spectator,” said Forszt, who will retire later this month. “I’m very excited to see this event continue to grow.” 

Forszt attributes that growth to the very cooperative community of Oro Valley in conjunction with a very enthusiastic Ventana staff, which works closely with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

“Ventana being a health-related organization, this has always been a priority for our employees,” said Forszt. “We’ve formed good partners with Northwest Medical and the Town of Oro Valley, and people in general are trying to live healthier lifestyles. It’s fun to see how many people locally and around the country and world come to this event.”

Forszt is one of those who, around the time the race was established, chose to make the transition to a healthier lifestyle.

After hearing Bingham speak at an event, Forszt, now 63, partnered with Corbett, who got him started running a minute a day.

“That progressed into me doing half marathons,” said Forszt. “I feel better at 63 than I did 10 years ago. It’s really been a nice metamorphosis for me – I’ve lost a bunch of weight.”

Corbett made a similar transformation earlier on after doctors told him his health was deteriorating. Since then, Corbett has continued to stay active, his advocacy for health apparent in self-owned business, All About Running and Walking, and in his continued involvement with the ADC.

Corbett and Babner say while Forszt likes to stay low-key about his involvement with the ADC, he has been a huge factor in its success.

“Gregg is one of those guys that each town has – he can get anything done at anytime,” said Babner. “When we ask him for something, he will give it to us. He has been instrumental in pulling off the event each year. They (Ventana) act as host to the race, as finish line volunteers, and as corporate cheerleaders.”

Forszt wouldn’t have it any other way.

“To see 2,500 people line up in front of Ventana Medical – it’s truly a celebration of healthy lifestyles,” he said. “It’s not about who wins. It’s about individuals making their lives better through their efforts, and achieving their goals.”

The ADC takes place on March 24. Registration is still open at www.arizonadistanceclassic.com.

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