Packet Pick Up
This is always smooth in Scottsdale. Plenty of parking, although it is all the way on the east side (you know, in Scottsdale, where the race actually takes place). I'm about 45 miles away, and there are many options to pick up the packet. This year, you can even have it mailed to you. If you are running with friends, anyone can pick up your bib, provided you send some information along with them. The expo is full of sugar, a few local vendors and events, and so many volunteers... they are the best, as most are local high school students serving their community.
Race Day Parking
I got to the start with about two minutes to spare, as I hit several traffic jams on my trek. There was still easy and free parking. My friends all got there early, as instructed, and were closer to me, but we all made it.
The course was similar, but slightly adjusted from last year. There isn't much buzz or excitement along the course. On this particular day, I couldn't keep my legs turning, and wasn't sure why... it turned out I was on the cusp of being ill. There were many miles with nothing but runners, and so some additional cheer squads or other energy wouldn't have hurt. There are a few portajohns along the course, but not many. That said, there are scores and scores at the start. Aid stations are placed with different sugar spots along the course; chocolate, marshmallows, and candy corn this year. Shout out to the volunteers that make this happen, as about 90% are our youth and do a tremendous job of keeping everyone hydrated and energized when they approach.
The finish line is a great cheer section and the crowd really helps you find a kick beginning at mile nine. There are plenty of areas to meet your family and lots of room to spread out. There wasn't much offered other than water at the finish, but that is because...
The chocolate, banana, Rice Crisp, marshmallow, and pretzels await the finishers. There's also a cup of hot chocolate. I can never eat any of it except the banana, but I really can't eat anything after a run sans chocolate milk and bananas. The medal was different this year; all cities look the same, but there is a city-specific key chain attached. If you are a legacy runner (three of five years) you get additional swag. The bag is pretty cool to store shoes or dirty clothes, and the long sleeve shirt is better than the jacket and comes in very vivid colors this year; a fantastic upgrade.