A marathon is any race that covers a distance of 42.195 kilometers (26 miles, or 385 yards).
These races have become popular events for runners all over the world who want to put their physical fitness to the test.
Marathons can be run over almost any terrain type, and in the state of Arizona they can quickly go from road races around major cities to grueling runs across stunning desert landscapes.
Desert marathons are one of the ultimate tests of endurance due to the harsh conditions that they are usually run in.
Many seasoned marathon runners attempt these events as a way to push themselves to their physical limits.
If you want to try a desert marathon, but aren’t sure that you have what it takes, then it is a good idea to try a half-marathon first, so you can get used to running in this type of terrain.
Arizona is a state that is well known for its arid landscape and stunning natural geography. If you are thinking of trying a half-marathon in a desert, then there are few states better for doing so than Arizona.
In this article, we will be covering a few of the best half-marathons that runners can attend in Arizona, from city based road races to scenic desert treks.
Date: April 9th
The Wickenburg Wild West Run is an annual event held in the city of Wickenburg, AZ.
The course starts at the base of the listening hills and follows the outskirts of the town before the turnaround point at Porta Jon.
If you are looking to attempt your first long distance desert race while taking in some beautiful scenery, then this is a great choice for you.
The first half of the course follows a gentle uphill route, but once you reach the turn-around point, you can relax a bit more and let gravity do most of the work.
There are also a 10k and 5k course for those who don’t want to take on the whole half-marathon.
Date: April 23rd
This is another great option if you want to experience a full day of running through the gorgeous Arizona desert.
The Whiskey Basin Trail Runs include multiple courses that will take runners around the city of Prescott. As well as a half-marathon around Watson lake, there is also an ultra marathon that goes around the entire circumference of the city.
There are also shorter 10k and 5k courses, so runners of all skill levels should be able to find a route that suits them.
The natural landscapes surrounding the city are truly stunning, and contestants will get to take in some incredible sites as they make their way along the trails.
Location: Show Low
Date: June 4th
If you are looking for a fun and exciting race, then Deuces Wild is the place to be.
This is a unique event where participants compete in a series of challenges that will push them to the absolute limits of their physical fitness.
As well as a half-marathon, runners can also compete in a full Olympic triathlon, for anyone interested in swimming and cycling as well as running.
Most of the half-marathon course follows Fools Hollow lake, offering contestants some great views while they run. There are aid stations every mile, so you can refill your water bottle and stay hydrated throughout the day.
Location: Pinetop Lakeside
Date: August 5th
If you want to stay out of the heat, then this is a great choice for you since it takes place in Fall.
Contestants will start the day on a bus that will take them to the top of the mountain, so they can begin their descent.
The half-marathon course takes runners though beautiful stretches of woodland as they descend towards the town of Pinetop Lakeside, to the finish line at the local high school.
There are also shorter 10k and 5k races for anyone who doesn’t feel up to the full half-marathon, as well as a separate event for children.
This Marathon starts at 6:30am, so be prepared for an early start. Those who take part will get to participate in lots of fun activities on the day before the race.
Date: September 24th
This is another race that takes place near the city of Prescott Arizona, and as such it offers some incredible scenery for contestants to run through.
The Groom Creek Classic Run includes a half-marathon as well as a 10k and 5k race to provide courses for all skill levels and ages.
Most of the route travels through the stunning Ponderosa Pine forest located near Groom Creek.
Since it takes place in September, you won’t have to run in the sweltering heat, but there are still plenty of aid stations so all the contestants can stay hydrated while they run.
This is a great race for anyone who wants to run through scenic woodlands rather than a desert.
Date: October 8th
If you want a desert race that is perfect for beginners who have never run one before, then the Lake Powell Half Marathon is a great choice.
It has been described by many people as “one of the most beautiful half-marathons in America”, which makes it a great choice if you want to see some amazing sights.
One thing that makes it great for amateur runners is that the course is mostly downhill.
As runners start out from the John C, Page Park, they will have an incredible view of the Jurassic Navajo sandstone that looms over Lake Powell.
There are 6 aid stations located along the route, offering food and water for the runners as they progress.
Date: October 15th
This race is rated as one of the ‘Coolest marathons in the United States’, since it is held in October.
The Flagstaff marathon is a great choice for anyone who wants to challenge themselves, since it is rated as one of the more difficult courses in the country.
Part of the reason for this is that it is a mostly uphill course that covers 8000ft of elevation over its length.
The trail is mostly off-road, so it will help to have some previous cross-country experience before taking on this course.
Contestants have a choice of a full marathon, as well as a half-marathon and a small 10k route. Each runner who takes part in this event will receive free lunch, as well as a wide range of other perks and rewards.
Date: October 16th
2022 will be the 5th annual running of the Wicked half-marathon, which is a fun Halloween themed event for runners from all over Arizona.
It is made up of three courses for adults and a Spooky Sprint event for children. As well as the half-marathon itself, there are also much shorter 10k and 5k races to make sure there is something for everybody.
The route follows the Santa Cruz river and offers some spectacular sights of the town of Marana. Most of the race is downhill, and since it takes place in October when the weather is usually more clement, this is a great race for complete beginners.
Location: Grand Canyon Village
Date: November 5th
This race takes place in the incredibly beautiful Kaibab national forest, located just south of the Grand Canyon.
While the route may be too challenging for those who have never run a half-marathon before, it is a great choice for anyone looking to witness some incredible scenery.
There are a fair few hills along the route, so be prepared for uphill running over rugged terrain.
There is also a shorter 5k trail, so most runners should be able to find a race that suits their skill level.
Participants will receive some awesome rewards for taking place in this race, including a long sleeved shirt and a commemorative medal.
Date: November 13th
If you are looking for a less arid route, then the Phoenix half-marathon is an awesome road race through one of Arizona’s most famous cities.
As well as the full half-marathon, there are also 10k and 5k courses for less experienced runners to take part in.
Since it takes place over mostly flat ground, this is an excellent race for those who have never run a marathon before and want to try long distance running.
This event takes place in winter, so you can expect the weather to be much milder than the usual blazing summer heat.
There are 7 aid stations along the half-marathon route where contestants can stock up on water and food throughout the race.
Arizona has many amazing races to choose from, with each offering different challenges and experiences. If you’re looking for a new way to test your endurance, then these events could be perfect for you.
Many of them are a great way to get a taste for running through deserts and can make good practice for other marathons that take place in arid conditions.
So if you live in Arizona, or plan on visiting, why not register for one of these races and see all the stunning landscapes this state has to offer.