Monday, April 27, 2009

Fireside at Norterra Adventure Run - April 26, 2009

As soon as I read about the Fireside at Norterra Adventure Run, I knew that this was a race I wanted to participate in because of the unique concept. Instead of all runners following a set course, we got to choose our own course to get to all five of the checkpoints. There were options to do the adventure run solo or in teams of two or three, with unique rules for the teams. The website explains this much better than I can, so check it out for the exact details of the event.

The home base for the adventure run was the Fireside at Norterra community center.

I couldn’t make it to the packet pick-up on Saturday, so I made sure to arrive early the day of the race. The race directors wanted the adventure run to be a green event, so all participants received a reusable water bottle in addition to the requisite t-shirt.

Participants were encouraged to bring the reusable water bottle on the run since there were no cups at the checkpoints/water stations. I did see some people running with the event water bottle, but a lot of people also brought their own camelbaks, fuel belts, and handheld water bottles. I used my Nathan fuel belt, although if I had known ahead of time that the “course” was so short (more on that later), I probably wouldn’t have bothered with wearing it.

While waiting for the run to start, I checked out two of the event sponsors who had tables set up. The first was Mountainside Fitness where I “won” a three month free membership. They look like nice fitness centers, but unfortunately none of the locations are very convenient to my house. The other table was offering samples of Verve Energy Drink. I didn’t want to drink something new before running, but took a can to try some other time.

I knew Chad, another reporter from Arizona Foot Races, was also going to be at the adventure run because of a recent post on his own blog. I made an educated guess as to who he was and introduced myself. Luckily I was right and with the start running late we had a chance to chat.

The start to the event was very informal. I’d guess there were about 50-60 participants and at about 8:20, the race director Brett Stewart spoke a few words then gathered us at the parking lot exit. With a three, two, one, go… we were off.

Prior to race day the course map was posted to the website with four of the five checkpoints shown. The fifth point was revealed on race day. I’ve added it to the map below. (Click to see the full size map.) I was a little surprised that they didn’t have maps available to hand out. I understand it was a green event and all, but unlike with the water they didn’t tell us to bring our own maps. Luckily I did have a print-out of the map with me.

I headed toward the purple/orange checkpoints first. The purple was at the top of an uphill climb. My tactic was to just run half the hill at a time. I veered off to get the orange mark first before combing back to the purple. Each checkpoint had two or three volunteers ready to mark our bibs with a colored marker. The participants were spread out enough that I never had to wait in line to get my mark.

Next I ran over to the other half of the course. I started with the red mark first. The green checkpoint was a little hidden. I got to where I thought I was supposed to be and didn’t see any volunteers. I actually stopped dead in my tracks to look at the map. (It's a bit hard to read a map while running... try it some time if you don't believe me!) Luckily another runner was behind me and yelled out to keep going. The checkpoint was just around the curve in a little park. I found out later that Terrance is a community director at Fireside at Norterra. No wonder he knew the course so well!

After getting my final blue mark, I ran back to the community center. Instead of a finish line, there was a finish table. The volunteers verified that I had all five marks and wrote down my name and time. I finished in a little over 37 minutes. The run was advertised as being about 5.5 miles, but my Garmin had it as 3.7 miles. Of course that would differ depending on which route a runner chose to take. I’m not complaining about the course distance. I thought the checkpoints were well spread out. Any farther away and it could get frustrating to run so far between marks.

One of the teams checking in at the finish table.

The post-race spread included muffins, cookies, fruit snacks, and bananas. Once all the participants had finished, it didn’t take too long until the awards ceremony. There were medals for the top three two-person and there-person teams. They also had something special for teams with kids under twelve, but I didn’t catch what it was.

The winners in the two-person team category. They were also the fastest finishers overall with a time around 20 minutes. In addition to a medal, winners received a $20 gift certificate to Dick's Sporting Goods - one of the event sponsors.

Then it was time for the solo participants. There were a lot of speedy runners, but they were all male. So I was waiting anxiously to see whether they’d break up the awards by gender… and they did! There were only two solo females and I was lucky enough to place first! Here’s a close up of the “medallion of awesomeness”. (Sorry it's a little blurry.)

I had a chance to speak with Kristen Stewart, one of the event organizers. Originally they were planning to do a 5k, but were having a hard time getting road closure permits from the City of Phoenix. So they changed to the adventure run format, which ended up being a perfect fit with the Fireside at Norterra community. From my perspective, the first adventure run was a success and I had a great time. I hope that the word gets out and Kristen and Brett see an even bigger turnout for the next adventure run on November 15.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Run for the Cheetah 5k

The 5th annual Run for the Cheetah was held on Saturday, April 29, 2009 at Papago Park in Phoenix to benefit the Cheetah Conservation Fund. It was a special event for me because I also ran last year as my first race ever. So this year’s event marked my one year anniversary as a runner. I did the 5k, but there was also a 1 mile run/walk and free kids dash.

I arrived at Papago Park about 6:40am and got through the race day registration process quickly with just a short wait in line to get my t-shirt. Registration was $25 for the 5k and well worth the money. (Early-bird registration was $18 before 3/6 and $20 before 3/27.) The goody bag had samples of Clif Shot Blocks and organic Popumz multigrain crisps, as well as coupons from REI (15% off), P.F. Chang’s (free appetizer), Red Robin ($1 coupon), and Jamba Juice (BOGO free). Participants also got free entry into the Phoenix Zoo on race day.

Papago Park is a beautiful location for a race and offers plenty of roads and trails for warming up.

I just had to stop in the middle of my warm up jog and take this photo.

The 5k started at 7:30am and the 1 mile started about 10 minutes later. The 5k course was an out and back, starting in the park near Ramada 16 and then running out along the canal for the majority of the race. It was crowded for the first quarter mile or so on the park roads, but the pack spread out once we got out to the canal.

Waiting for the 5k race to start. Race director David Bluestein is on the left with his trademark sparkly "hair".

If you look closely, you can see the line of runners snaking up along the curve of the canal.

The course had two water stations. The first was just past mile one. The second was here at the turn around. Thank you volunteers!

This tunnel passes under E McDowell Road. Earlier in the race, I was in the tunnel heading out as the lead runners passed on their way back. This photo was taken after the turn around as I was heading back.

I had another event the next day so I wanted to take it fairly easy. My goal was to finish the race in 30 minutes. As I approached the finish line, I saw the clock read 29:50 so I sprinted hard to try and beat the clock. I think I finished at exactly 30:00. Race timing was done by Arizona Running Events Company and they use the method of collecting the tear-off strip from the bottom of the race bib for timing. This is the only part of the event that I would say needs improvement. For a 5k, the time it takes to cross the start line can make the difference in a PB for some runners. Also, with manual timing it takes a lot longer to get the race results out.

The finish line is near the blue tent. The clock is at 29:49. Right after this photo, I took off and sprinted for the finish.

Another shot of the finish line from a different perspective. I love when it's a downhill to the finish.

There was plenty of water (thanks to sponsor Watermill Express), bagels, oranges, and bananas available after the race. For the early finishers, there were also extra samples of Clif Shot Bloks and Popumz. The Run for the Cheetah was a great event for the whole family. A lot of kids were carrying plush cheetahs from the Cheetah Kids booth and there seemed to be a constant line for face painting. The Red Robin mascot also made an appearance for photos and to cheer on the kids dash.

Two free raffles were held. For participants under 21, the prize was a one year family membership to the Phoenix Zoo. For participants 21 and over, the prize was two bottles of cheetah wine from the Cape of Good Hope Wine Co. There were two grand prize winners in each category. A few other people also won cheetah posters.

Overall, it was a fantastic race experience and I look forward to my third Run for the Cheetah next year.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Run for the Cheetah

I wasn't going to run this event. No way. Until I read that it's 'Run for' not 'Run From the Cheetah'. Now, the ideal sounds pretty cool.

It's a benefit to ensure that Cheetahs don't become extinct. Money goes to the Cheetah Conservation Fund.

You choose between the 5k or 1 mile run and the kids have a dash of their own. I wish race directors would have the 1 mile first and then the 5k 20 minutes later. I'd run both. Anyway, the beauty of this race is the location. Right outside the Phoenix Zoo in Papago park. You'll get to see the unique rock formations in the park, the canal and maybe some fishermen reeling in a big catch. After the race, stick around for music, raffles, food and awards. Then, with your bib you can get into the zoo for free. Here's a tip - if you don't plan on going into the zoo, give your bib to a family that does.

Run For the Cheetah is Saturday, April 25, 2009 at Ramadas 9&10 in Papago Park.

This race is sponsored by The Phoenix Zoo, Harkins Theatres, Watermill Express and more. Please support those sponsors that support your sport.

Monday, April 20, 2009

June 2009 Races

6- Run For The Creeks -Presscott
6- Globe Rotary Round Mountain Sunrise Challenge -Globe
6- Circle the Peak" National Trails Day Race -Payson
7- Run For Vania -Tempe
18- Summer Solstice 5K -Metro Phoenix

Fireside at Norterra Adventure Run

Have you done an adventure run lately? At all?

Our own Brett Stewart brings this race series from back east to north Phoenix. It's part running, part treasure hunt. Brett can explain it better than I can, so check out the website. Just know this, if you like unique races that test your legs, heart and mind you need to run this race on the 25th of April and again on November 15th.

Race by yourself or in teams of 2 and 3. But, don't bring your ipod. You'll need to stay alert on this open course race.

Earth Day 5k

You can expect about 300 runners at this event on the shores of Tempe Town Lake. It's the Earth Day run and it's Wednesday night. It's great for runners that can't make a weekend event or rather run in the evening.
It's only $20 if you sign up at Sole Sports in Tempe, Runner's Den in Phoenix or Run AZ in Gilbert and Ahwatukee. But, you have to do it by tomorrow. Otherwise, it's $25 at the door.
A Green Expo is starting at 5:30 pm right near the start line at the Tempe Arts Center.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pat's Run - April 18, 2009 Tempe AZ

As a runner there are certain races in certain states that you "have to do". Some events are even "have to do" for non-runners too -- Pat's Run is one of these events.

Sunday, April 18 marked the 5th running of Pat's Run, benefiting Team Tillman / Pat Tillman Foundation and showcased how much an event like this can grow. 20,000 walkers, runners, stroller-pushing joggers and first-time runners participated along with an army of yellow-shirted volunteers. To put it simply, the city of Tempe is transformed by the number 42. (Pat's number with ASU). Tempe, AZ and ASU are one in the same. The university's campus is directly connected to the main artery of Tempe -- Mill Street -- and ASU students (not to mention parents and visitors) are the life blood of the city. On the Spring day of Pat's Run, Tempe bleeds ASU burgundy & gold and the number 42 is everywhere you look.

Most races it's considered a rookie mistake to wear the event's T-shirt during the race; experienced runners know that race day is not the time to wear anything new (chafing anyone?). There are a few times when that rule can be broken - Pink race shirts during a breast cancer run (Nike women's marathon and Komen Race for the Cure come to mind) - and Pat's Run is one of these times. Packet pick-up is available for days before the event, so everyone has the latest "42" on their backs, and multi-year runners have any of the previous 4 years... although there are very few from year 1 before the current TT / Pat's Run logos. I guess those are collector's items of sort. Pre-race it was fun to point out each of the previous year's shirts to my running partner while we were waiting in line at the port-o-johns. Even with a huge mass of people, the wait wasn't that bad, as the organizers did a tremendous job of making sure there was enough of everything to accommodate 20,000 bodies.

Speaking of my running partner, this was his first running race. He's done a few tris and even an ultra marathon relay -- yet never toed the line for a running race. I got to provide some advice and see the event through the eyes of a newbie; that's always fun to remind you what it was like on your first time. My sage advice wasn't always on the mark though; we picked a corral that had the big #8 on it and I failed to notice it wasn't 8-minute miles (as we'd planned to run) it was corral #8, 11:00 minute miles! Since this is an "event" and less of a running race, I didn't care about time, and settled in with this pack. There were plenty of walkers & runners of all shapes & sizes, and the mood was light - whether they were there to run, walk or just be a part of the event. Aside from the tight quarters at the start (OK, for the first mile) it was a blast to navigate around the rest of the pack. Jason felt it was a great confidence boost to pass ab out a thousand other runners during the race!

As far as courses go, the route is pretty nice; I have run or biked the same area several times for different triathlons or marathons so I know the area well. You start between Sun Angel and Sun Devil stadiums, and end - get this - on the 42 yard line of Sun Devil Stadium. The run into the stadium can be a little tight, but coming out of the tunnel onto the field is an amazing experience. For the last 2 years I've made it a point to all-out sprint the 60 or so yards as soon as my feet hit the turf. Finishing on the field is incredible, the stands are filled with spectators and runners who've already finished and some runners even get their names called over the PA system. The huge crouds work their way up the stadium steps and the concession area is very well stocked with water, bananas and bars.

(I just realized it took longer for me to write this than to run the race!)

All in all, it's a great event. If you're a runner, walker or athlete and live in AZ (or San Jose for that event) then you need to do this race. Period. There's a reason 20,000 people showed up this year and left happy!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pat's Run

The first of two Pat's Runs take place at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. The school that Pat Tillman played his collegiate football. Next week there will be another Pat's Run in San Jose, Pat's hometown.
This was the fifth annual run that started soon after Pat Tillman, an American hero, died in Afghanistan fighting for America. Just in case you may not know, Pat played professional football for the Arizona Cardinals. When he was offered a new contract, he passed and joined the military. Today we celebrate Pat Tillman and raised funds for his foundation.

The race featured 20,000+ runners and walkers running from the parking lot of ASU's Sun Devil Stadium north across the Mill Avenue bridge and through Papago Park along Curry Road. As you head south down Scottsdale Road you loop around the athletic fields and up into Sun Devil Stadium. It's 4.2 miles and you finish high fiving ASU football players on the 42 yard line. Yes, you get to finish on the field and you're not rushed off. You can stretch on the grass after your run. Plenty of seating in the stands to watch your fellow runners come in.

Why 42? It was Pat Tillman's number when he was a defensive hero for the Sun Devils. This race is unique, in that 70% of the participants wear the technical shirt you get with your registration. Families will also love the play area for kids and the festival where you can get something to eat, drink or even a message.

Look to your right around the half way point and you'll see the stadium. The finish line looms big just a few miles away.

Football fields are marked every 10 yards, but at ASU, the 42 yard line is also marked so that we can always remember Pat Tillman. If you'd like to learn more about Pat click on his name.

As for my race? I planned to run 9 minute miles, or closed to it. Finish under 40 minutes and stop for just a few pics. My splits came in at 9.08, 9.33, 9.33 and 10.41. Not sure what happened at the end. But, I finished with a 9.11 for the last .2 miles entering the stadium. Final time: 40.09. It was a crowded race, but not so much to slow me down. I did a little weaving, but I was able to run the tangents without much interference. After the race, I went back to the stadium entrance and ran back in to take some pictures. Here's where you can find more pictures.

Race stats and map

Monday, April 6, 2009

Lake Pleasant Dam Good Run (Morristown AZ) April 4, 2009

Lake Pleasant Dam Good Run
There are a lot of things that make the Lake Pleasant ‘Dam Good Run’ one of our favorite local running events. It is sponsored by, takes place in, and of course supports the Maricopa County Parks. Between Kimberly and myself we use “our local parks” multiple times every week and much appreciate having them. So to me when they get a chance to showcase (if you will) a Park it’s a great thing. Plus the fact that the Rangers and folks who work for the Parks are all really great people who do one of heck of a job with the resources they are given. This event is one of the places this is highlighted for sure and I love to see the passion they bring to what they do.

I also really like the course. It combines many way cool aspects that most local runs don’t share. The biggie for me being about 2 ½ or so miles of the 7 Mile course is Trail. And cool trail at that. Aside from the Cactus ChaCha, and a couple of long ones by the Arizona Road Racers there are just not that many organized local trail runs. You also get to run across (and back) the New Waddell Dam as part of the course, and it is the only day of the year that you can do this.

Kimberly and I got out to the Park about 8:00 to check in. The race did not start until 9:00 but they have a nice little setup and it’s always good to have a few minutes to check in and say hello to some of the folks you have come to know from other races (or friends in general – Hi there Coulson family :-) ). They have a nice little setup for the races including some cool birds, snakes, and lizards which you know the young runners dig.

There are 2 courses, a 7 Mile and a 4 Mile. While the 4 Mile does get some runners, for the most part I think a lot of the Hikers do the 4 mile and Runners do the 7 Mile. Overall there seemed to be about the same amount of people as last year, maybe a little more. As a quick side, I think this year they would have gotten a ton more runners had it not been the same day as Emma’s Run, the Pioneer Days Run, the Havasu Half, and the Sabino Canyon Tucson event (see report from running friend Pat HERE).

Lake Pleasant Dam Good Run
We were running the 7 Mile course. The race started on time from the 10 Lane Boat Ramp Parking lot. You head out and almost immediately begin a fairly quick decent down toward the Morgan City Wash. While not a true ‘technical trail’ per se, with such a steep decent and the loose gravel, washes, etc you have to be pretty careful running down. When you get to the wash maybe 1/3 mile into the run the next 1/3 mile or so presents a good challenge on the ankles as you are essentially running in the dry river area and it’s that quick sand type of gravel where you sink in some. Good thing this lasts just a bit and soon you are running along water in a true Riparian area. It’s amazing how this seems to come from nowhere. If you drive around Lake Pleasant area you would never guess this type of topography could be there. It’s really nice for the next ¾ or mile or so as you duck branches, cross the creek a couple of times hopping on whatever to miss the water, squeeze between trees and the such. I wish the whole track could be this.

As soon as you head out of the Wash you begin an accent that lasts about 2 miles and 400 foot or so of elevation gain. For a bit of this you are still in the dirt before hitting the service road. While 400 feet may not seem like a lot, the steady, for the most part even, climb up sure makes you happy when you see the Dam finally and know the uphill muscles get a rest (1200 ft elevation gain and decent total for the race). Right before the Dam there is a paved quick drop, maybe 100 foot but you do it in about 10 seconds – so it is very steep (umm… nice to fly down carefully, but you know on the return you will have to climb it). You get to run across the Dam for what seems to be about a mile then return, a quick left off the service road and then a nice mostly even trail run for the last 2/3 mile or so.

The race is really non competitive, but they did do a ‘trial run’ this year for timing the folks who wanted timed. They also gave out medals for the Top 2 runners in each race (2 is odd I know?). This was nice however because I managed to weasel into 2nd Place overall in the 7 Miler this year. The medal was cool with a Lake Pleasant logo and the year customized it. Kimberly while unofficial I am sure was first among any females close to her age and about 12th overall.

We of course will be back next year. I hope the timing lines up different with the other races though as we would have loved to do Emma’s run up in Anthem and hang around with family that live up there or even Havasu would be a riot.

We finished the day by heading over to the Glendale Blues and Jazz show for some good Blues, chair loungin’ and a really good caramel apple. That’s what I call a nice Saturday.



Havasu Half

The second annual Havasu Half in Lake Havasu City, Arizona was on Saturday, April 4, 2009. I was glad my boyfriend agreed to accompany me as driver (and race photographer) since Lake Havasu City is about a four hour drive from Phoenix. We drove up Friday evening and arrived around 10:30, much too late to visit the expo or pre-race dinner. We stayed at the Quality Inn & Suites which was offering special rates for race participants. The Quality Inn was the cheapest of the three race hotels at $72 + tax. For our short one-night stay, the hotel adequately met our needs... the staff was friendly, the room was clean, and the bed was comfortable. I would recommend the hotel for anyone considering the race in future years.

On race day morning, we drove over to the designated parking area promptly at 6am. I wanted to make sure we had a good parking spot because the race instructions said there were almost 700 participants (between the half marathon and 5k) but only space for 200 vehicles. It turned out that I didn’t need to worry though because there were at most 30 vehicles parked in the lot. Everyone else must have walked, taken a shuttle, or found some other parking.

It was a short walk over to the start/finish line where volunteers were still working to set things up. There was almost no one around and I was able to pick up my race number and goody bag very quickly. The goody bag had my short-sleeved cotton t-shirt along with the usual assortment of flyers and a few other things including a sample of Tylenol tablets, a toothbrush, and a small bottle of E-Lyte Sport Concentrate. I stopped by the Gypsy Running tent to try on some running skirts before heading back to the car to finish my race preparations and grab everything I needed for the race… sunscreen, body glide, iPod, Garmin, etc. Then it was back to the start area again for a visit to the port-a-potty and some last minute stretching.

Despite what the banner says, this is the start of the half marathon.

The race started promptly at 7:30am. Going into the race, I didn’t have any specific goals in mind other than finishing and earning another medal. My second half marathon ever was a month ago on March 8 and between then and now I’d been dealing with a bunch of issues from trying out new shoes to a minor injury. Most of my runs had been at around a 10:30 pace so I figured if I’d be happy if I finished somewhere near my previous PR around 2:24. But as I crossed the start line I was near the 2:15 pacer and make a quick decision to try and stick with her for awhile.

The first four miles were a loop around the island that was created when the London Bridge was installed. Sometimes it takes me a mile or so to get into a groove, but today everything was good right from the start. The weather was perfect for a race. It was in the 60s and sunny with a light breeze. I had my iPod, but didn’t turn it on at first because I was happy enough to just enjoy the view and listen to the conversations around me. Around mile 3 I finally struck up a conversation with the pacer and another fellow runner and we stuck together for quite awhile. Typically I run alone and I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it is to run with other people. This was the pacer’s first time being a pacer, and my first time running with a pacer.

I'm in the middle, number 339. The girl to my right is the pacer. The guy on my left is a fireman from Lake Havasu City.

Just before mile 5, we crossed the famous London Bridge. The rest of the race was an out and back. Since this was a fairly small race, only one lane of traffic was closed for us runners. The volunteers were great at directing traffic and making sure we stayed safe. This part of the course had a few small hills, but overall the course was very flat. Some water stations had just water and some had water and Gatorade. I stuck with the water. Again the volunteers were great and the stations seemed to have plenty of fluids available.

I felt very strong and was keeping up with the pacer very well, even though she was actually slightly ahead of pace for a 2:15 finish. We chatted occasionally. I ended up not using my iPod at all during the race. At mile 8 I took a GU, then grabbed some water at the turnaround. I seem to have gotten better at drinking and running and was able to run through all of the water stations, only slowing down just a little.

After the turnaround, the other runner who had been with us the whole time started to pull away. But the pacer and I continued on together. Around mile 11 I finally started to feel tired and it really helped to have the pacer encouraging me to press on. By now I knew I was on track for a PR which also lifted my spirits. Luckily it was mainly a slight downhill from here to the finish. After crossing the London Bridge again we had less than a mile to the finish. With the finish line in sight, I somehow still had enough energy to sprint the last 100 meters.

Here I am approaching the finish. The woman to my right in front of the sign was celebrating her birthday by running her first half marathon.

I was very excited when I crossed the finish line... I could tell by the clock that I finished somewhere just under 2 hours and 10 minutes. Woo hoo! Official results have my time at 2:08:45!!! I got my medal, met up with my boyfriend, then went to thank the pacer because I know I couldn’t have done it without her.

The post-race spread was just standard fare – Gatorade, bananas, oranges, and bagels. I think my only gripe for the whole event is that there was nothing to spread on the bagels. Once I had recovered sufficiently, I saw that it was just after 10:00 and I had plenty of time to get back to the hotel and take a shower before check-out time at noon. I sort of wanted to attend the post-race party, but my boyfriend wanted to start the drive back to Phoenix and since he was doing all the driving I acquiesced. But we did make a quick stop for a few photos on the London Bridge...

Proof that I've been there, done that.

Additional Photos:

Firemen from the M.C.C. Fire Academy running the 5k as a group.

View at Mile 4 of the half marathon.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sabino Canyon Sunset Run

You don't see this kind of view at the start of most races. At the Sabino Canyon Sunset Run you get this view and many more that are better. I ran the 2009 version of the race as my first hill dominant run. I say hill dominant because the first 3.7 miles are mostly all uphill. You turn around at the top and return the same way to the finish.

Sabino Canyon is just to the northeast of downtown Tucson in the Coronado National Forest. You might have taken the tram into the canyon as a tourist. You defiantly want to do the run. I drove 2 hours each way for just the run and it was well worth it.

Being in the national forest system, you have to pay $5 to park inside the gates. Here's a hint. There's a small parking lot outside that's free. Then you just walk an extra 100 yards and you'll be at the visitor center/ tram station/ race start.

It's all on asphalt road, two lanes wide with seven bridges that the runners cross over twice. Once going up and once coming down. There's a dip in the road for each bridge. Here's a hint. When the Sabino Creek is flowing strong, the water will flow over the bridges. So, on race day that means you're running in water to cross the creek. Deep enough to get your feet wet. See the pictures from the 2008 race.

You'll start out in daylight around 2735' elevation. At the turn around you will have risen about 600 feet to 3375. Half of it in the last mile. But, then you'll get to head back down the canyon. Then you get to fly. I ran down 10 minutes faster than my ascent.

The picture above shows you the last mile. The runner is returning, but above him you might be able to see the road and some runners heading for the turn. In many ways this feels like a trail run, without the trail. No rocks or roots to watch for.

But, hurry down the mountain. Because darkness approaches after about 45 minutes of running. Robert Seamon, of Tucson finished in 40:45 to win overall first and Paula Morrison, of Tucson was first female overall with a time of 48:15. Half the runners finished in under 1 hour 6 minutes. The last group finished in 2 hours and in the dark.

You could say my race was a series of ups and downs. Yeah, pun intended. I had early splits of low 12 minutes per mile. I walked some of the way. Mile five was the first full down hill mile. I did that in 8:06. Miles five and six literally flew by. But, as if by design the race director had one more hill for the runners to climb right before mile 7 ended. Pictured below. By the time I got there, all I could see was the silhouette of the runners as they reached the top.

At the top you could see a single light, about a half mile down the road. That's the finish. You can't see runners in front or behind you. Just the single light. If you can finish this race in under an hour, it won't be an issue. But, for the back half of the field, we ran in the dark. Plus, you get signs like this:

Now that will get you moving.
The Southern Arizona Roadrunners put on this race and do a great job. We had entertainment before the awards ceremony with a cowboy doing gun and rope tricks. The parents loved it, almost as much as the kids.

The awards for 1, 2 and 3rd places were these great framed photos. I had to get back to Chandler, so I couldn't stay for the awards ceremony. I'm sure it was a fun time.

SAR also does a good job at having people around to answer your questions. Here's Dave Hill with a great t shirt on. He's in front of the Performance Footwear sign. A great sponsor of races throughout Arizona.

Then of course, there's the eats. Peanut butter sandwiches, orange slices, bananas were the fare. A bit light compared to what there sister club, Arizona Road Racers, up in Phoenix does. But, it was fine. Heck, maybe all the fast runners got the good stuff.

The volunteers where friendly like always. The weather was perfect. All in all, it was a great day for a run.

Pat's Running Splits