Runners in the Tucson Marathon take to the roadways of the Northwest on Sunday, Dec. 13.

The Holualoa Tucson Marathon has its start in Oracle, with an out-and-back beginning toward Mount Lemmon from the Pinal County community. Back in Oracle, the route leads to Highway 77, on to Oracle Junction, past SaddleBrooke and into its finish at Coronado K-8 School in Catalina.

Its companion race, the Damascus Bakeries Half-Marathon, begins at Biosphere Road south of Oracle, and extends to Catalina.

The 13-mile footrace begins at 7 a.m., with the full 26.2-mile marathon and the marathon relay at 7:30 a.m. Runners are parking at Ventana Medical Systems in Oro Valley, and taking buses.

The route descends by 2,200 feet, and follows paved roads, according to a release.

Runners have sacrificed and trained all year, and they'd "appreciate and welcome a friendly wave and shout of encouragement," a release said.

There are several good places to watch the Tucson Marathon, according to Bob Lamb, a volunteer who helps runners. One is Oracle Junction, with ample parking near Lupe's Restaurant. It's a place to see the early runners. The finish line at Coronado K-8 School is the best place to see "smiles of satisfaction and the thrill of victory," Lamb said.

Lamb, who drives a support van for the run, has seen plenty of smiles, thrills, despair and inspiration. He's helped injured runners, watched people sacrifice for their friends, seen people crawl into a van for a ride, and been inspired by Victor, who walked the entire course in a time just under eight hours.

After 18 miles, Victor said, "I am going to make my goal." A small crowd, perhaps a half dozen, cheered and congratulated him as he crossed the finish line. All the buses had departed, so Lamb drove him to the remote parking lot five miles away. Victor could hardly move, and was blistered.

Victor said his time was about the same as "the last one." Where? "In Alaska." It turns out Victor is a PhD candidate at the University of Arizona in mining engineering. "He thought he might rest before the two-hour drive home."

"For more stories of triumphs and disappointments you can go to the finish line and mingle with the runners," Lamb suggested. "All will have an experience they would love to share and they will need listeners."

SaddleBrooke residents have taken to the event; a year ago, more than 20 from SaddleBrooke ran in the 26-mile, 385-yard marathon or the companion, 13-mile half-marathon. More are expected this year.

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