In 2003, John Corbett, owner of All About Running and Walking, Gregg Forzst of Ventana Medical Systems, Jami Eggold of Northwest Medical Center, and Ainsley Reeder from The Town of Oro Valley collaborated to bring a world-class half marathon to Oro Valley. 

The mission created for the Arizona Distance Classic was to celebrate the active, healthy lifestyle in the world-class community of Oro Valley. 

“When we arrived to discuss the possibility, I was incredibly impressed by the vitality of the community, the natural beauty, and the commitment the event founders showed toward producing a world-class event,” states David Babner, race director and founder of M3S Sports. Since that first meeting, Oro Valley residents, town officials, the business and running communities in the Southwest, and runners from around the region have never failed to support every aspect of this event. 

The first annual Arizona Distance Classic Half Marathon and 5K in March of 2005 was a true community celebration of the active healthy lifestyle. Today, the Arizona Distance Classic is a signature racing event of M3S Sports group, and has grown into the premier destination event in Southern Arizona with a significant economic impact for the community.  

“To be a world class event, it first needs to be a true community event,” Babner said. He notes that the success of the event is based on the support from its presenting partner Northwest Medical Center, host partner Ventana Medical Systems, as well as The Town of Oro Valley, Oro Valley Police Department, Golder Ranch Fire Department, All About Running and Walking, hundreds of volunteers, local residents and homeowners associations, and the ever growing running and walking community.  Not only does this support create a safe, unforgettable, and exhilarating experience for participants, but it draws the eyes, attention, and visitation of the local, regional and national running and fitness community to this beautiful destination. 

The event also supports a number of charity partners such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation, and the Angola Project. During the nine years that the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training has been involved with the Arizona Distance Classic, they have raised more than $100,000 to support patients and fight blood cancers.

Runners and walkers of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities are encouraged to participate in the Arizona Distance Classic. This year, the One Mile Champions walk was developed, in partnership with Town of Oro Valley Vice Mayor Lou Waters, specifically to encourage older adults to join the event and get moving. 

The course is in an amazing setting. The weather in Southern Arizona in late March is almost always spectacular. The huge stand of saguaro cacti that racers will see as they run across Honeybee Canyon is impressive. And the views of the Santa Catalina Mountains are sure to leave an impression not soon forgotten.  

At the finish line, each participant receives a huge finisher’s medal and post-race celebration fit for a champion. At the start/finish line expo, participants can receive a massage, get their medals engraved, meet supportive community businesses, learn about local attractions, and even grab a bite at the VIP tent or from a gourmet food truck. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast, an incurable motivator and cheerleader, or just want to see what all the buzz is about, check it out on March 24 at Ventana Medical Systems. You can run, walk, volunteer or tour the expo area. It doesn’t matter how you choose to participate; join the party at your community’s signature running and walking event.  For more information, or to be part of the event, visit

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