In January 2019, I flew to Phoenix, Arizona to run my 26th state in my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states.
I chose the Rock n Roll Arizona Half Marathon as my Arizona race for multiple reasons:
- It was held during the long Martin Luther King Jr weekend which made it a convenient time for me to travel and a great little break after a busy couple of weeks dealing with year end at my full time accounting job.
- January weather in Arizona is made for running, warm, but not too warm and definitely no snow like in Boston!
- I had run multiple Rock n Roll half marathons in the past and with the exception of one in Denver, they are some of the most organized and fun races that I’ve run. They all feature music along the course and they tend to be larger races, which isn’t for everyone, but as a slower runner, I enjoy the larger races as there is always someone running near me and always lots of runners finishing after me, no stressful situation where I think I’m going to be the final finisher (which almost happened in a small 10K in Florida when I first started running!)
The expo for the race was held in Downtown Phoenix at the Convention Center. I went and picked up my race package. The expo wasn’t all that impressive that I can remember and I was in and out pretty quickly on Friday afternoon and then headed to Tempe were the race was taking place.
I stayed at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel. This hotel was a great choice as it was located close to the start and finish lines, within walking distance. The last thing I want to deal with is trying to find a parking spot before a race.
The hotel was beautiful, this photo is from my room overlooking the courtyard in the middle of the hotel. They had couches and chairs set up in the courtyard, it was a great place to relax after the race.
The hotel also had a restaurant, Mission Grille which I had a delicious lunch at and also a rooftop swimming pool.
The half marathon was taking place on Sunday morning, but since I was able to take Friday off of work, I decided to also run the 5K on Saturday to complete the Remix Challenge. This means I would earn 3 medals, who doesn’t want to end the weekend with three medals?
The 5K start line was just a couple of blocks from my hotel. It was quite chilly that morning in the 40s and even though I had left the cold and incoming snow storm in Boston, I was freezing before the race started.
The race went across the bridge over the Tempe Town Lake and ran on the other side of the lake for a couple of miles and then headed back over the bridge to the finish line at Tempe Beach Park. Luckily once I got moving, I warmed up quick, but I still rushed to Starbucks on my way back to the hotel after the race for a nice hot coffee.
The next morning, I left the hotel to walk over to the start line of the half marathon, it was definitely a bit further of a walk, but still less than 10 minutes and plenty of other runners walking the same way, so definitely a safe walk. And it was a bit warmer that morning, thank god!
The start line was at Arizona State University. The race started off running on regular streets of Tempe and into Scottsdale, nothing all that exciting, I was actually expecting something a little more scenic for Arizona. But the course would definitely get more scenic and more hilly!
The course was fairly flat but I had been warned of a large hill around mile eight. Well to me it seemed that hill started at mile 7 and it didn’t seem like we got to the top of it until after mile 9. As the elevation of the race increased so did the scenery as we began to run thru Papago Park.
Luckily after getting to the top of the hill, it was pretty much downhill all the way back to the finish line at Tempe Beach Park.
Like all the Rock n Roll races there was great entertainment along the course. Check out the video below for an example of some of the talented musicians along the course.
Even with the never ending hill in the middle of the race, I somehow ran a pretty fast race for me, 2 hours 43 minutes, definitely in my top 5 fastest times. This was extra impressive as I had spent a good portion of 2018 injured. I had plantar fasciitis the first half of 2018 and then the second half of the year I was dealing with a stress reaction in my shin. I made quite the comeback in this race!
The finish line was at Tempe Beach Park where they had live music, snacks and of course the free beer. I got my free beer and stayed a while to enjoy the live music. They always have a well known band playing at the finish line and this year it was Plain White T’s. They put on a pretty good show.
This was a fun and organized race and I do recommend it if you enjoy bigger events. I’m sure there are more scenic races in Arizona though. I think if I were to run another race in Arizona, I would probably pick one in Sedona in hopes of a more scenic run.
If you are interested in what there is to do in the Tempe area, check out my post on A Weekend in Tempe Arizona here.