From 5 to 6 p.m. last Wednesday afternoon, people filed through the Crossroads at Silverbell District Park as they signed in and received their weekly coupons.

For the past month in Marana, people of all ages are gathering weekly at the Meet Me in Marana events on Wednesday nights.

The growing interest mirrors the gradual decrease in afternoon temperatures and increase in area residents’ desire to exercise outdoors.

The event is a reincarnation of the Meet Me at Boston’s gathering created by Maranan Dave Hill and his wife, Michele, about 18 months ago. Recently, they teamed up with Marana’s Parks and Recreation Department and changed the group’s name.

They now meet on the other side of the Santa Cruz River.

“It seemed like a good option to team up with the Marana Parks and Recreation Department,” Dave said. “Their mission statement is similar to ours. We are trying to promote health and wellness in the community through running and walking.”

Anyone in the community is welcome to attend for free. They have the choice to go for a leisurely walk around the park on a mile loop or travel along the river trail to Ina Road and back for two and a quarter miles.

Incentives for people to attend are weekly coupons redeemable at surrounding eateries. Last week’s coupons gave walkers 15-percent discounts at Boston’s and Nana’s Kitchen, and a 25-percent discount at BTO Yogurt. That’s not all.

“We track attendance, and when people come eight times, they get a free event T-shirt,” Dave said.

Oro Valley resident Stephanie Ratcliffe attended her first Meet Me in Marana event last week. In the past, she had attended a similar event in Tucson, but the commute to the event became too much of a struggle.

“I live way up here, so it’s too far of a drive to get down there,” Ratcliffe said. “I would love to have people to run with. I just run around my neighborhood by myself so it will be a lot more fun to have some people to run with.”

Ratcliffe also used to run with the Southern Arizona Road Runners group when she lived in Tucson, and really enjoyed the group. But it’s too long a drive from Oro Valley – about 45 minutes – to attend.

Picture Rocks resident Earl Evans, who used to meet with the group at Boston’s, has really enjoyed the new meet-ups.

“I just think it’s great they have something like this going on in the Marana area,” Evans said. “I just wish they had more races and activities like this in Marana.”

If you go

What: Meet Me in Marana

Where: Crossroads at Silverbell District Park Ramada 5 (behind the Wheeler Taft Abbett, Sr. Branch Library,

7548 N. Silverbell Road)

When: Wednesdays. Registration from 5 to 6 p.m., prior to the walk/run

For more info:

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