Organizers of El Tour de Tucson are gearing up for November’s 37th annual race with kick off events for cyclists and open registration. It will be El Tour’s first event with new Perimeter Bicycling CEO Charlene Grabowski at the helm. With about two months on the job, Grabowski is still new to her role and came out of retirement to run the well-known Tucson event. She appeared on Arizona 360 to describe strides made so far.
“We’ve done a lot already. The people, we looked at each of them as individuals and said, ‘What are their strengths?’” Grabowski said. Other changes include ramping up marketing efforts on social media. Outside companies donated computers and helped Perimeter Bicycling upgrade its internet.
“The community has just rallied. Everybody wants this to happen, so I feel responsible to make it happen,” Grabowski said.
Financial woes put the event in the spotlight earlier this year, prior to Grabowksi’s hiring. Perimeter Bicycling owed Pima County $180,000 for last year’s race. By April, the board announced it successfully paid its dues.
“There was such an outpouring of give, give, give. We needed a little responsibility and maturity and work to take a look at our own organization and say, ‘But what do we need to host this amazing ride?’” Grabowski said.
Grabowski estimates it will cost $900,000 to put on this year’s event. Organizers have received about $500,000 combined from Banner Health, Rio Nuevo and Pima County.