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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “8,300 ride for charity in El Tour de Tucson”

    Flagstaff resident Michael Grabinger is the first to cross the finish line outside the Tucson Convention Center at the 24th Annual El Tour de Tucson Saturday morning. Grabinger, who rides for the Rideclean cycling team, won the 109-mile race in four hours, 15 minutes and 53 seconds.
    Flagstaff resident Michael Grabinger is the first to cross the finish line outside the Tucson Convention Center at the 24th Annual El Tour de Tucson Saturday morning. Grabinger, who rides for the Rideclean cycling team, won the 109-mile race in four hours, 15 minutes and 53 seconds.

    Flagstaff’s Michael Grabinger was the first to pedal across the finish line at the 24th annual El Tour de Tucson on Saturday, just more than four hours and 15 minutes after the race began.

    Grabinger is the first non-Tucsonan to win the race since 2002.

    Sonora, Mexico, cycling champion David Salomon came in a close second, just eight seconds behind Grabinger after being neck and neck in the last miles of the race.

    “”We were in the last sprint, and I figured, it’s time to go,”” Grabinger said.

    Grabinger, who races for the Cleanride cycling team, was among 8,343 participants in the race, 4,789 of whom did the full 109-mile circuit that began and ended outside of the Tucson Convention Center.

    Shorter races included 80-, 67- and 33-mile circuits. Children participated in the Kid’s Family and Fun Ride, biking for either one-quarter of a mile or four miles.

    Every rider helped to raise money for several charities, including Tu Nidito Children and Family Services, the American Parkinson’s Disease Association and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

    The UA cycling team raised more than $500, and Don Domkowski, an assistant professor of military aerospace studies and the cycling team’s faculty adviser, finished in 91st place.

    “”It’s kind of a motivator,”” Domkowski said. “”It gets us out here and gets us to train again.””

    The 109-mile circuit ran through north Oro Valley across East Tangerine Road and Sunrise Road before heading back south, said Matthew Nelson, event coordinator for the Perimeter Bicycle Association.

    “”There are people from every state, and our community and Tu Nidito benefit from people we will never meet,”” Nelson said.

    Tu Nidito was the main beneficiary of the event and expected to receive more than $200,000, which makes up more than 30 percent of its yearly operating costs, said Liz McCusker, executive director of Tu Nidito.

    The organization supports about 800 seriously ill and grieving children and their families every year and has been the primary beneficiary of El Tour de Tucson for the past 10 years.

    “”If we didn’t have El Tour, we would have to turn families away,”” McCusker said.

    The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training raised more than $2 million from 587 riders from across the country who raced in honor of someone suffering from a blood-related cancer, said Stacy Brown, senior national campaign manager of Team in Training.

    The organization, which trains and prepares athletes for triathlons, marathons and cycling, hopes to raise more than $100 million nationally from donations through similar events.

    “”Our cyclists are excited, and they’re ready,”” Brown said.

    Cynthia Holmes, coordinator of the Arizona Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association said she expected to raise about $25,000 with the help of the Indoor El Tour, a charity drive that uses stationary bikes where participants race for “”minutes, not miles.””

    Elaine Mariolle, a graduate student studying geography and regional development at the UA and the 1986 winner of El Tour De Tucson, said she helped to bring students from Santa Cruz Alternative High School in Nogales, Ariz., to raise money for the APDA.

    “”Part of it is to encourage the kids to participate in physical activity through cycling,”” Mariolle said.

    This year’s El Tour was dedicated to Dr. Richard H. Carmona, public health professor and former U.S. surgeon general, who spoke Friday of the importance of exercise, wellness and preventative medicine for young people.

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