Marathons In Arizona

Do you think you have what it takes to be a marathon runner? Running is a great way to get outside, appreciate nature and enjoy some casual exercise in the process.

Marathons In Arizona (1)

However, when it comes to long distance running like marathons, you will need a fair bit of endurance and determination to see you across all 42.195 kilometers (26 miles). 

One of the great things about marathons is that there are so many to choose from, with events ranging from running tours of major cities to cross country treks across stunning landscapes. 

Like many other states, Arizona has several marathons that take place every year. Runners from all over the country and the world are invited to witness the stunning desert landscapes that make up this state. 

Running a marathon isn’t for the faint of heart, and taking part in a desert marathon can be considerably harder.

As such, Arizona is a great place for long distance runners to test their endurance and see how well they hold up when running in arid conditions. 

If you’re looking for your next long distance run, and are interested in desert racing, or just want to see some spectacular scenery, then why not check out one of these awesome Arizona marathons. 

Whiskey Row Marathon

Location: Prescott 

Date: October 8th

Distance: 42.195 km

If you are looking for a challenge, then the Whiskey Row marathon is the place to be.

Starting and finishing in downtown Prescott, Arizona, this race has been rated by some as one of ‘the most difficult marathons courses in the US’.

If you have what it takes, you will be greatly rewarded by some spectacular views of Northern Arizona seen at an elevation level of 7000ft. 

There is a fair bit of uphill running in this race, so take that into account when you are training for it.

Most of the course takes place on paved and dirt roads, which is a small blessing, and thankfully the weather shouldn’t be too hot in early October.

Flagstaff Marathon 

Location: Flagstaff

Date: October 15th

This race was established in 2006 and has been held almost every year since then.

There is something for everybody at this event, with courses for both a full and half-marathon, as well as a shorter 10k route and a separate race for kids.

Runners for the full marathon will have to complete two loops of the whole course, which is set on the beautiful off-road trails of the Coconino National forest. 

As with the last race, there are a fair few uphill sections on this course, but nothing that a seasoned long distance runner won’t be able to handle.

Since most of the route is through woodland, you will also need practice running over rough terrain while you are preparing for this race. 

Southwest Series

Location: Flagstaff

Date: November 9th

The Southwest Series is a collection of 6 races that take place in all the major states that make up the South West.

For the Arizona portion of this event on day four, runners will travel through the beautiful open woodland of Buffalo park near the town of Flagstaff.

Most of the course is on flat ground, and as such, this is a great choice for those who are less experienced at long distance running. 

Runners can take part in as many races of the Southwest Series as they want, but they will receive a special medal for completing all 6.

One of the great things about this event is that there are no time limits, which is another thing that makes it suitable for first-time marathon runners. 

Four Corners Quad Keyah

Location: Four Corners Monument 

Date: December 1st

This is another large event that takes place across four states over four days from the 1st to the 4th of December.

Runners will have to complete a marathon, or half-marathon if they prefer, on each of the days, with the first one taking place near the Four Corners Monument in Arizona. 

You can register for all four races, or register for just one if you prefer. There are no time limits for any of the races, meaning every runner who takes part will have the chance to cross the finish line. 

If you want to experience some incredible desert landscapes, then this series of races is the perfect way to do so.

The Arizona course consists of a loop that runners will have to complete five times, meaning they will have regular access to their own kit, as well as the aid stations for stocking up on water and snacks. 

Tucson Marathon – Oro Valley

Location: Oro Valley 

Date: December 3rd

The Oro Valley is located near the Pusch Ridge Wilderness area, and this marathon will give you an incredible view of both.

This is a great race for anyone who wants to take on their first marathon, since most of the course is downhill.

As such, you will be able to relax into your stride, and let gravity help while you enjoy the stunning natural landscape. 

There are regular aid stations located along the course so that runners can rehydrate throughout the day.

If you have previously served in the military, then you can get a discount when registering for this race. All the runners will be invited to an after-party at the Steampump Ranch. 

Tucson Marathon

Location: Tucson

Date: December 10th

If you complete the Tucson Marathon within a specific time limit, then you can use that achievement to qualify for the next Boston Marathon.

The first iteration of this race was held back in 1969, and as such it is one of Arizona’s oldest marathons.

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If you are looking to take on your first long distance race, then this is a great choice, as the course is mostly downhill and runs along paved roads.

Runners will start in the historic town of Oracle and finish at the Golder Ranch Fire Station near the town of Catalina.

The descent through the Santa Catalina mountains is relatively easy going and packed with beautiful scenery along the way. 

Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona

Location: Start: Phoenix. 

Date: January 15th

This is another awesome event for complete marathon beginners, and it can also be used to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

The course will take runners through the valley of the sun, showing them some of the best parts of the towns of Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe where the finish line is located.

There aren’t many steep inclines or declines, and the mostly flat landscape will be very forgiving for anyone who isn’t used to running long distances. 

Another thing that makes this a relatively easy race is the fact that it takes place on roads, so you won’t need any experience with cross-country running.

When you register you will receive a selection of extras including a runner’s bib, a t-shirt and a medal for crossing the finish line. 

Mesa Marathon

Location: Mesa

Date: February 4th

The Mesa Marathon was originally known as the Phoenix marathon and is another race that can be used to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

On a course that starts on the peak of Usery mountain, runners will descend roughly, 1000ft into the town of Mesa.

At the top of the mountain, you will be able to admire the stunning Arizona scenery and enjoy a relatively fast race that is suitable for all skill levels and ages. 

There are regular aid stations for runners to stock up on snacks and water while they run. Finisher medals will be awarded to all runners who complete the course within 6 and half hours

Lost Dutchman Marathon

Location: Apache Junction

Date: February 19th

Our last race is a favorite for seasoned marathon runners and complete beginners alike, and it is another event that can be used to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

The start line is near Gold Canyon, which is located 30 miles east of Phoenix. Over the course of the event, runners will travel over mostly flat roads and get the chance to drink in the beautiful desert landscapes of Arizona. 

There are aid stations and spectator areas located at regular intervals along the route, so your friends and family can watch as you progress towards the finish line.

Only 400 runners can take part in this Marathon, so if you want to participate it will be best to book in advance. 


If you’re thinking about taking on your first marathon, then Arizona has some great races for complete beginners to long distance running.

More seasoned runners will also have a great selection of more challenging runs that will test their endurance in arid conditions. 

Some marathons on this list are part of a large series of races, which take place across multiple states, while others are single events that can be used to qualify for more exclusive races such as the Boston marathon.

One thing all of these marathons have in common is that they offer an opportunity to see all the incredible sights that Arizona has to offer.

Megan Rinzel
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