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The Daily Wildcat

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ComeRun Together with professor Talattof

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A ComeRun Together group photo. The group was created by University of Arizona professor Kamran Talattof. (Photo courtesy of Tim Bentley.)

Kamran Talattof has been a professor of Near Eastern studies and comparative literature at the University of Arizona for 25 years and is a founding chair of the Roshan Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Persian and Iranian Studies. When Talattof is not contributing to the academic world, his mind is occupied by his other passion, running.

While interviews about running are not the norm for him, Talattof enjoys talking about running and was willing to share a few words and tips with Wildcats who are curious about the sport. 

Talattof is known for his scholarly works such as: “The Politics of Writing in Iran: A History of Modern Persian Literature,” “Modernity, Sexuality, and Ideology in Iran: The Life and Legacy of a Popular Female Artist” and his latest piece “Nezami Ganjavi and Classical Persian Literature: Demystifying the Mystic.” However, Talattof was recently recognized by Runner’s World in 2022, for his experience using running to overcome political trauma, which did not go unnoticed among the running community here in Tucson. 

Through joint runs with the Workout Group, Tucson Trail Runners and the ComeRun Together group which he co-founded in 2005, Talattof has formed strong connections with runners all over Tucson. ComeRun Together has been meeting for runs on Saturdays ever since, growing into a group of 273 members on Facebook alone.

Talattof’s love for running was born in his childhood home, which housed a large television that was contained by a wooden cabinet, where he visually consumed track and field races and the Olympic marathon. It slowly grew throughout his youth as he used running to enhance his ability to play soccer and basketball. He continued these shorter runs as he made his way into graduate school at the University of Michigan and as he began teaching at Princeton University

“But when I came to Tucson, Arizona, not long after I settled was when I fell in love, deeply, and I gained this passionate relationship that I have with running,” Talattof said.

Professor Kamran Talattof poses on Mount Wrightson. (Photo courtesy of Kamran Talattof.)

He views running as being both mental and physical, which become especially apparent when it comes to ultra-marathon distances. Contemplating the idea of the ego versus the runner as he sets off for his long runs. Talattof has found that running under harsh conditions such as pain and prolonged exposure to heat and freezing weather can be very humbling. He describes this realization as valuable because it can help one avoid the “dangers of ego,” which can creep its way into one’s life. 

In this lifestyle you get the chance to become aware of the way ego has affected our lives negatively. I have run thousands of miles over many years and each one of them, I have had to contemplate the consequences of irrationality. But as I discover a deeper connection with the earth and nature, I begin to have the ability to feel like a pebble resting along the trail I pass through; I become part of that path. This envisioned unity, this instance of selflessness, the profound connection to the trail all converge to create a splendid sense of belonging and happiness,” Talattof said.

He recommends that those new to the sport incorporate strength training early on and working on their running form to avoid injury. Talattof also suggests running in a group and allowing yourself to be thankful for the commitment and the company. He refuses to listen to music because it can become a distraction from the run itself. It may also prevent him from interacting with those around him, who can be helpful in providing feedback or the latest news updates regarding running.

“My running group to me is very much my second family. This is where I feel I am most comfortable. This is where I feel I can relate to anyone. This is where no one evaluates you for any reason and where no one expects anything from you except to show up for the next run so you can do it together. And for all the reasons above I prefer running in the group,” Talattof said.

Tim Bentley, the Arizona state rep for the Road Runners Club of America and current host of the ComeRun Together group, met Talattof through the Workout Group.

“ComeRun is part of a vibrant community in Southern Arizona. We have our unfair share of talented and gifted athletes that live here. It’s a combination of the weather, the beautiful terrain and the people that choose to live here that really build this vibrant running community,” Bentley said.

Bentley is a former president of Southern Arizona Roadrunners. Southern Arizona Roadrunners was established in 1972 and has since been playing an active role in encouraging locals to walk and run. In 2019 Tucson was rated a Runner Friendly Community by the Road Runners Club of America. Through the Southern Arizona Roadrunners website one can sort through the many running groups pertaining to Tucson and narrow down which one is just right for them. Southern Arizona Roadrunners awarded Talattof with the Spirit of Rob Bell Award in 2012.

“His family [Rob Bell’s] started a fund at the Southern Arizona Roadrunners to give people recognition […]. It is an award created for the support of people that show that spirit of comradery, passion for the sport and kindness to others. Kamran received that, you know, 10 or 12 years ago because he made such an impression and such an impact on the running community that people wanted to say, ‘hey what you do is important, what you do is meaningful to us,’” Bentley said.

Sarah Dasher is the current host of ComeRun Together; she enjoys running distances of 50 to 100 miles.

“Kamran’s impact on Tucson’s running community really can’t be overstated. He is a very well-known person in town, who has encouraged many people to run over many years now and who always welcomes new people,” Dasher said. 


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