- 3 miles/5K, 6 miles/10K, 13.1/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Road Race
The Sedona Marathon is without a doubt one of the most scenic road races I've ever done. Last year (2016) I participated in the half-marathon. The hills were challenging but nothing too unbearable. The weather-perfect. So this year (2017) I took on the full marathon. Whole different ballgame!
Overall, it was was both one of my favorite, and one of the toughest, marathons I've ever done. Here are some of my favorite things about this race:
--Quick and efficient expo. While small, lots of volunteers that were quick and efficient and I was able to get in and out for packet pickup rather quickly. Some cool race-branded running gear available for purchase.
--Parking. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott, which was walking distance from the Start Line. However, there were plenty of shuttles and tons of parking available so it made getting to the race fairly easy. The crowds were large (record number of participants!), so I recommend getting there a little early.
--Start Line Area. Not only is this race scenic, but everyone took photos at the start line b/c it too was an amazing scenic shot! Mountains in the background, all the people bustling around. Insta-worthy. Plus, there were donuts/coffee for purchase if you wanted, and other booths to stop by if you wanted. You could also utilize the bag drop so you didn't have to walk to and from your car.
--Start Time. That's right, most marathons I've done start super early. This one started right at 9am! Means I could sleep in and not have to start out running in the chilly weather.
--Weather. It was chilly (mid 40s) as we stood around getting ready to start, but as with most races in AZ, it warmed up rather quickly. By the time I started it was in the 50s (perfect marathon weather!) and low 60s by the finish.
--THE SCENERY. In case you haven't picked up on this, the scenery at this race is spectacular. From the start to finish, it's absolutely fantastic. Red rock formations, trees, some of the mountains in the distance had snow... really amazing.
--The Course. It's out and back, so you get to doll out some high-fives to friends running the same distance as you. And also, you can see the half-marathon winners not only fly passed you, but also give them a fist-bump at their turn around spot.
--Trails! Another great part of this course is right after the turnaround for the half-marathon, the full marathon runners hit the jeep trails. It's packed dirt, so no need for trail shoes. But It's softer than pavement and so much easier on the legs! Plus, I love trail running and this made me feel right at home (although not technical at all so no worries if you're a trail-running newbie.)
--Volunteers. There were tons of great volunteers out there, many dressed in costume or just hollering at the top of their lungs.
--Aide Stations. These stations were pretty stocked for a full marathon. Tons of water and Gatorade, but also shock blocks, bananas, gels.. I took advantage of them and felt my nutrition was really on point.
--Finish Line. A wide finish line allowed friends to cheer me in before I hit the finish coral. Was a great final push to be able to high-five friends on that last .2 stretch.
--The Medal. The medals are always a corner "piece' of a pie. So if you do four years in a row, you have one solid circle. And you don't have to start back like many other races. Just make your races consecutive and you'll collect all you need!
--Awards. If you're an elite with swift feet (no matter what the challenge), Male and Female winners of each distance received a large stone plaque. As well as a bag of local coffee! I thought this was really unique and fun.
Now, all that being said. I still have some words of advice for YOU. **This race is not for the first-time marathoner**. ***This is not a PR course***.
It's a fantastic race. I love this race. But if you're looking for your first marathon or a race to finish 26.2 in record time, I'm sorry but this one's not for you. Here's why:
--The HILLS! While just enough for a "challenge" for a half-marathon. The hills were killer for a full marathon. You get *some* downhill, but for the most part it's a LOT of up on the way back. If you train on hills they may not bother you, but even then I wouldn't recommend it for your first marathon or for a PR. The finish is even uphill.
--Elevation. This race takes place at about 4500ft. While I did not have any issues with the elevation during the half-marathon, I did feel *some* of its affects during the full. It wasn't a "lung-buster" situation, but rather just enough to make climbing the hills that much harder.
That being said, that's how I felt about the full marathon. The half-marathon I would still recommend for anyone. I DO, however, suggest running the full marathon if you're looking for a new marathon challenge, or maybe training for an ultra-marathon. Or maybe you just want the bragging rights!
Only two downsides to this race that I wish to point out to Race Management (and in turn to runners).
1.) The Medals. I love them. I really do. But everyone gets the same medal with the same ribbon. There is a VAST difference between running the 5k vs running the full marathon. Even if it's just a different ribbon it would mean the world to us marathoners and we'd wear that thing proudly!
2.) Traffic. This race is open to traffic and many times runners would start running on the right, then move to the left, then back to the right again, all depending on where the traffic was coming from. I'm not sure whether it was the runners not staying where they should, or traffic going where they weren't supposed to. But either way, slightly scary when you're "out of it" and just focusing on one foot in front of the other. I'm not sure if the roads can be sectioned-off with cones, but I feel that would help keep runners on one side, and traffic on the other.
I enjoyed my time at the Sedona Marathon tremendously and will definitely be back. Will probably focus on the half-marathon next year. But I feel I might tackle that full again down the road. My friends and I had an absolute blast and it will most likely become a yearly tradition. I strongly recommend making it one of yours!