April 12, 2006 - It was going to be close as Dan Maher approached the finish line of the 5K competitive run of the 8th Annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Up ahead was the back of a familiar foe, Robert Seaman, the man Maher had been closing in on since Country Club Road.
Behind both of them streaked Victor E. Zazueta.
As the trio powered toward the finish, Seaman was able to outlast Maher, winning by three seconds. Zazueta came in on Maher's heals, two seconds behind.
"Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get him (Seaman) but it was pretty close so I was happy with that," said Maher, a native of the Northwest.
The Seaman-Maher rivalry goes back roughly 10 years when the two used to run against each other in high school - Maher for Salpointe Catholic High School, Seaman for Sunnyside High School. The duels continued through and beyond college, culminating, this time at the Komen race.
Despite trading wins in events for more than a decade, Maher has nothing but respect for the man he often trains with.
"It's been a very friendly rivalry," said Maher. "I feel like if he and I are running, it's going to be a pretty fast and a pretty fun race."
Maher, 24, isn't your typical runner who goes out for an afternoon jog around the block after work. After competing for teams most of his life, Maher is now running to feed his addiction to the sport and lifestyle.
"In my opinion, if you want to be really competitive in 10K and up, you have to be putting in 80 miles a week," said Maher, who admits he isn't quite there yet due to nagging injuries that have slowed him. As of now, he puts in about 50 miles a week - in places such as the River Path, Sabino Canyon and Saguaro National Park West - running nearly every day and taking a day off once every two weeks.
It's not often that the 24-year-old misses a day, but when he does, he feels the affects.
"Physically it doesn't bother me. Mentally sometimes it kind of puts me on edge," said Maher. "Also, you feel kind of guilty for not doing it. It's not as bad as it used to be; maybe I've mellowed with age."
The Northwest native first got into the sport at the age of 12 while at Cross Middle School. He began running exclusively three years later as a sophomore attending Salpointe.
"Running is something that just kind of came natural to me," he said, crediting the coaches at Cross with his early development and love for the sport. Even back then, he'd run four times a week and up to 15 miles with a good friend.
At Salpointe he set school records in the 800-meter and 4 X 800-meter races and was named the 1999 Southern Arizona Runner of the Year - despite breaking his foot while running his senior year.
It was around his sophomore year that college recruitment letters began arriving at his Northwest home. He eventually settled on Arizona State University, where he finished his collegiate career No. 3 on the Sun Devil distance medley list with a time of 10 minutes, 27.60 seconds.
Up next for Maher is the Spring Cross Country Classic 5K, the third of 10 events in the Performance Footwear Desert Grand Prix. Since his days as a Sun Devil, Maher has won several big races around Tucson, including the Sun Run 10K.
Maher will build his strength and endurance throughout the year in the Desert Grand Prix, working toward his specialty, the 5K. As Maher builds toward running an 80-mile week, it is possible that next year it will be Seaman with the view of Maher's back crossing the Komen finish line.