It was 95 degrees on a recent Marana Wednesday evening, yet 62 runners and walkers gathered at an Arizona Pavilions restaurant to exert themselves for 2-/12 miles along the Santa Cruz River.

Meet Me at Boston's, a free weekly run and walk put on by Boston's The Gourmet Pizza Restaurant, is intended to promote local business as well as community fitness, according to Boston's community relations director Michele Hill.

"But mostly a community effort for public health and wellness," said Hill. "To meet your neighbors and have a good ol' time."

The idea originated from the weekly downtown Tucson event Meet Me at Maynard's, a Monday evening run and walk. Hill and her husband Dave are co-sponsors of Southern Arizona Roadrunners and founders of the running group Tucson Grinders. Michele has used vast marketing methods to tell people about the event, and it's gained participation weekly since it began April 28.

Jocelyn Riley and Sharon Pascoe, members of the Southern Arizona Roadrunners, attend both the Monday and Wednesday runs and walks. "It's a great location and a great course," said Riley of Boston's 2.5 mile run/walk route. "It's very green and cool. A neat place to run and come out and meet people."

Avid runners are not the only ones drawn to the event; several families sporting occupied strollers were in attendance. "It's good for the kids to come out," said Pascoe. "If they're active now, they'll be active when they're older."

Shirley Krueger walked the while pushing a stroller and having two kids on scooters in tow. "It's good to start young," she said. "Meet Me at Boston's is a good way to just get out and walk in the cooler evenings."

Marana resident Connie Engel attended the event for the first time May 26 after hearing positive reviews about the scenery. "It's my goal to make it a weekly routine," said Engel. "It's close by and I can even bring my baby."

The event offers participants a 15 percent discount at the restaurant as well as Nana's Kitchen and BTO Yogurt. Additionally, those who attend eight times receive a t-shirt, a listing as a Meet Me at Boston's athlete after 10 times, and a hat at 15.

The walk begins at Boston's in Marana's Arizona Pavilions at 6 p.m. each Wednesday, and the run starts at 6:15. First-time participants need to arrive early to register. For additional information call 572-8250.

"Running is a great way to exercise and maintain weight," said Hill, "It doesn't take much, just pull on a pair of running shoes and go."

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