Runners remember Gabe Zimmerman at Labor Day race

Justin Schecker

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Runners remember Gabe Zimmerman at Labor Day race

CREATED Sep. 2, 2013

SAGUARO NATIONAL PARK, ARIZ. (KGUN9-TV) -  It is a Labor Day tradition that takes runners through one of Tucson's treasures.

And for the third year, the TMC Saguaro National Park Labor Day 3K and 8 Mile Run/Walk, also honors one of Tucson's heroes.  

"Gabe never got to do this course," Ross Zimmerman told the field of 1,500 runners at the starting line. "Though, this is the park where he and I trained for our run at the Grand Canyon." 

Now this race is one of three named in honor of Gabe Zimmerman. The former aide to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords loved to run. 

"I think its really important," runner Gene Williamson said. "He was a big runner in the community. A lot of people knew who he was and we knew him."

Donna Lewandowski now lives in the home where Zimmerman grew up, she told 9 On Your Side. 

"The Gabe Zimmerman triple crown is genius in my opinion," Lewandowski said. "Just a real way for us to come together three times a year and every time you go out to train you're thinking about him as well."

Caig Curley didn't break his race record set in 2010, but he still ran the 8 mile course faster than the rest of field.

"Its a very special thing because you're embodying someone that a lot of people looked up to and saw as a good person," Curley said after crossing the finish line. 

"Its not really about who comes in first today, of course you still want to run as fast as you can, but there's still that camaraderie where you want everyone to do well," Curley added. 

Today, that camaraderie was on full display at Tucson runners commemorated one of their own.

A portion of the proceeds from today's race will go toward Child and Family Resources and other local charities. Organizers say the 1,500 person field is the largest ever for this 44-year-old event.