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Is It Worth It?
Is It Worth It?

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Race Review: Sedona Marathon Event


Sedona, Arizona is often regarded as one of the most beautiful places in the United States ('GMA' Most Beautiful Place in America). So naturally when we came across a running event in Sedona it was a must!


Details

  1. The Sedona Marathon Event occurs each February. 
    • Next year, February 4th, 2017
  2. It's a smaller scale race with this past year having 2,800 participants.
  3. Multiple distances available.
    • 5k
    • 10k
    • Half Marathon
    • Marathon 
  4. Start time is 9 am for the Marathon and each division releases every 10 minutes (i.e., 9:10 am for Half Marathon, 9:20 am for 10k, 9:30 am for 5k). 
    • Which is nice because you can sleep in a little. 
  5. It's one of the most beautiful courses!
  6. It's one of the most difficult courses! 
  7. Cost: $35 for the 5k - $80 for the Marathon (Prices)


Review


I am always so nervous and quiet before a race, well with the exception of 5k races. Fortunately, we stayed close by and had a 0.5-mile walk to the start line from our hotel. And even more fortunately, our hotel was well stocked with peanut butter and carbs. 

The walk to the start is not bad. As with most races, you follow the herd. I would strongly recommend picking a hotel close by and walking to the start, as parking at the Cultural Center is pretty minimal. Leading up to the start line are a bunch of booths with local vendors. There are all sorts of things to buy, but, of course, wait until you're done running. Towards the end of the finisher's village, there are multiple porter potties. If you're heading out for a long run, I would go. 


The announcer at the race had a laid back funny vibe, which was helpful when you're stressing out about the upcoming start. 

"If you're not excited yet, you better change that!"


And just like that, the race begins. For our first half marathon, Kyle and I decided to get behind the 3 hours 30-minute pacer. Granted, our goal was to finish under 2 hours 30 minutes, but with not as much training as we'd like, we chose to play it safe. 

"Good Luck, you got this!"

Random Cowboy who gave me a high five as we began our long run 


As mentioned before, this is one of the most beautiful courses...and the most difficult. It is very hilly. For the most part the beginning is a series of downhills and you haven't expended all of your energy yet.






During the race, at each mile marker there is an aid station with your choice of Gatorade flavor, water, Clif Shots, and bananas! The volunteers at each station keep you going as they encourage you on and keep handing Gatorade your way. They also are quite funny, and after each mile marker, a very welcomed site. 

They do have part of the roads blocked off. You keep right as drivers keep left. Early on there is hardly any traffic, but towards the end of the race drivers get more aggressive and it can become dangerous. At around the 10 mile mark an industrial moving truck was not patient in yielding the roadway and nearly clipped me. It was incredibly rude and dangerous. 


Leading up to this race Kyle and I thought we'd stop for more pictures and just enjoy the beauty, but we were making such great time and were on track to beating our goal so we kept pushing. Thus the reason for our minimal race course photos. 

The ones you see here of us running were taken at around mile 7 after we enjoyed bananas at the half-way table. 

After you make it half-way, the real struggle begins. This is an out and back course, so while that is good with respect to not getting lost you soon realize every downhill is now an uphill. 



You try to logic around mile marker 11 that it's only 2.1 miles to go, but it sucks. Kyle and I had to slow to a fast-paced walk for most of the hills as they are no joke. This is also the part of the race where before each hill I whispered "Fuck" with the strength I had left. 

What's more frustrating is I don't know how they determine their mile markers. My Garmin was off by .30 - .50 miles on the way back, and a lot of fellow runners were complaining of their distance being off as well. In fact, I have found a few blogs where this very issue is discussed (see The T-Rex Runner). 

Then suddenly, you're close to the end. The crowds are cheering you on and your legs feel like cement, but you push on because you are about to be done with this wickedly beautiful run. 


There it is! That beautiful, beautiful medal. The reason I kept pushing on. The reason I didn't detour back to my hotel when we ran right past it. The reason I now smile and want to get back out there...next year...after my legs have rested. 

Would we run it again?

Yes, sure, but with more Clif shots. The second half of this race was so brutal. I felt weak, tired, and annoyed. I stayed well hydrated and the half-way banana helped...but it was not enough. There are a also a few things about this race that frustrated me:

  1. Inaccurate mile markers. 
  2. Taking down the road barricades too earlier, which put runners in a dangerous position. 
  3. Running out of chocolate chip cookies to give runners as they finished. While Kyle and I got one, my mom who finished 45 minutes after us did not get one. I can only imagine how we would have felt had we run the marathon and not had that sugar boost at the end.
  4. That said, would I run it again? Yes, yes I would. Sedona is BEAUTIFUL. 

P.S. We came in around our goal time of 2 hours 30 minutes. Not bad for our first official half marathon, and for such a hilly course. 


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