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Elites Pace the Way at Rock ‘n’ Roll 5k

Some of the biggest names in running including Ryan Hall, Steve Scott, Ben Bruce, Dylan Wykes, Stephanie Rothstein Bruce and Alan Webb served as pacers at the first ever Rock ‘n’ Roll 5k in Arizona.

Credit: Nils Nilsen.

The baseball fan can’t step into the batting cage with Miguel Cabrera, picking the Triple Crown slugger’s brain about how to best turn on an inside fastball. LeBron James groupies don’t walk on the court with the basketball royalty, inquiring how King James can both be so muscular and athletic.

And good luck sharing the 50-yard line with Tom Brady, posing questions about Gisele or tight spirals.

Yet one of the amateur road runner’s blessings is that they traverse the same course as professionals and sometimes are even allowed to pick their brains, discussing workouts, diet and who knows what else.

That was the case Saturday morning in Phoenix when the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon and Half Marathon unveiled its first 5K.

The 5K is part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon brand’s Remix Challenge. Runners who participated in today’s 5K along with Sunday’s 10k, half-marathon or marathon will receive a medal for each race, plus a Remix Challenge medal, a three-medals for two-race bonus.

Among the pro athletes who’ll mixed it up with the age-groupers Saturday morning were Ben Bruce, who turned heads last year by not only running five Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathons but winning them all.

Count Bruce among the professionals who enjoyed sharing time with the amateurs.

“I feel it educates people about the sport, one person at a time,” Bruce says. “In those conversations, they get some knowledge about the professional side of the sport. Some people don’t even know (professionals) exist.

“And I learn the person who runs a four-hour marathon takes their training every bit as serious as I do. They may have a crazy schedule that only allows them to train three or four times a week.

“They may not put in as much time as a professional, but they may be an accountant and they’re going to put in a heck of a lot more time crunching numbers than I do.

“A lot of (age-groupers) may know the big names like Meb (Keflezighi) or Ryan (Hall) and it’s nice that they show up to follow us. We might inspire someone to run their first half marathon.

“Whether the amateur’s trying to win their age group or just finish a race, everyone has little doubts, a little nervousness. So it’s fun to mingle with the public.”

Hall, the American record holder in the half marathon (59:43), paced the 7:30 per mile group to an opening mile of 7:29 this morning and headlines the American field in Sunday’s half marathon.