This was my fourth year running this race and FINALLY a year where I didn’t have major issues with either parking or leaving. I do know that some people did, but I guess I finally learned to bite the bullet and arrive early.
This is a point-to-point race where you park at the finish line and are bused to the start. The race started at 6am this year, with the last bus scheduled to leave at 4:45am. I know people had issues parking and that time was much later, as it has been every year.
But knowing that it was going to be a chore to park I had a plan:
3:10am – get up
3:36am – left my house
4:00am – at the Alma School exit
4:25am – finally parked (it’s maybe 2 miles from the exit to where you park and it was already really busy, but they finally had police at one of the lights which helped a lot. And this year I parked in a different spot to avoid exiting congestion.
4:35am – on the bus
4:55am – at the start.
6:00am – start
It worked perfectly. It was really, really cold and also did my waiting time differently than last year. I brought a robe this year which covered a lot of my legs which really helped. There were tons of heat lamps, but there were tons of people crowded under them too. But having an extra layer helped. The announcers at the start line said 6,000 people were signed up for the half, which did sell out. The finishing results only have about 3800 people finishing. The race was scheduled to start at 6:30am, but it was moved up to 6:00am to help get people done and out of the area before the Cubs game started.
The port-o-potties were in a different spot than previous years so you weren’t standing in the desert, hurdling bushes and such while you were in line which was another huge improvement.
The start was fun as usually with the national anthem and fireworks. I think they toned down the fireworks from past years though, probably because they were starting earlier.
The race started at 6:00am, sunrise was around 7am, but it starts getting light at about 6:40. I didn’t run with a headlamp and didn’t see anyone who was. There was enough lights with the street lights. I was happy to get started, to try and get warm. The start temperate was about 42 degrees. Then the coldest part of the day is right before sunrise and the temperature went down to 39. I could see my breath a lot of the race. It was pretty cold for Arizona and especially for this winter where every other race I’ve run has been much warmer.
This was has the best water stations. There is a contest for the most spirited and a lot of them are super spirited and encouraging. There also seemed like there were more spectators than in past years. There were a couple corners with lots of people on them which I don’t remember from past years.
The race is net downhill and it’s not a scenic course, but it’s a good race. I got the best time I’ve gotten in a couple years which was nice too. This race has the BEST finish line food! You finish, get your medal and then there is a runners area for runners food. There is french toast from Kneaders, Chick-fil-a had sub sandwiches (I didn’t know they had those one their menu), Cliff was giving out protein bars, there was Horizons chocolate milk, Sprouts was giving out Coconut water and chips, there were cups of Gatorade, and fruit cups. But, all other years Dickey’s had mac and cheese and pulled pork. Really missed that this year. Hope they come back next year!
Once you leave the runners area there is a big expo with more food to be had and prizes to be won, but I didn’t stay because last year it took me 1.5 hours to get home (the normal time is 30 minutes) because of the Cubs game. I wanted to make sure I got out of there fast enough. This year the new parking spot worked great and it was a super easy exit and new this year there were parking volunteers directing people on the easiest way to exit.
There were lots of improvements this year which was good to see. This race is in the middle of a 5 year series medal with the 5 C’s of Arizona (Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus and Climate) so a lot of people who are running are doing this series (me included). This was year 3, with two years left. Already signed up for next year!