The Mesa-Phoenix Marathon took place this past weekend and I participated in the half! This course is known for its downhill, flat & fast nature making it one of the top courses for personal records and Boston qualifying times.
I arrived in Phoenix on Friday and went to the expo right off the plane. It was smaller than other expos I had been to but it was still cool. There were a nice amount of vendors and I was even able to score some girl scout cookies! It was a quick in and out thing as there wasn’t too much to do. Getting to my AirBnB and grabbing some food was next on the agenda. Ahem…. Cracker Barrel!
Fast forward, bedtime was around around 9ishpm and go time was at 3:30am. Race busses were at Mesa Riverview where the expo was, but signage was nowhere to be found making it difficult to find out exactly where to drop of HALF runners and FULL distance runners. My friend was running the full and I was running the half and we had to take different busses as the starting lines were in different places.
Cutoff time for the drop off busses was 5:15 SHARP and by 5:30 I was just getting onto a bus and it was FREEZING outside! Good thing they had the heat on max blast for the ride to the start. I underestimated how cold it was going to be and how long we would be standing around before we started. The starting village was equipped with heat lamps so I huddled around them with other runners to stay warm. Porta-potty lines were out of control as usual so it sucked to wait almost 30 mins (AWAY FROM THE HEAT LAMP) to use the bathroom before the race. I wanted to get it out the way so I didn’t have to stop on the course.
A little before 6:30AM we listened to a lovely voice sing the National Anthem and some fireworks, which was a nice little touch, and off we were. By mile 2 my throwaway sweater came off and I was warmed up but still kept it slow and steady. The course isn’t as scenic as I thought it would be and there weren’t too many people out supporting (aside from the fun water stations). By mile 4-5 there was an aroma in the air similar to something burning which made it uncomfortable to breathe in but I kept it moving.
At about mile 9 I started to feel my left thigh cramp up, similar to how I felt at mile 24 in my first full marathon. I can honestly say hadn’t properly trained / hydrated for this race so I expected to feel it. It got worse by mile 11. I felt it in both legs and was just dying to finish. The course had a sprinkle of people cheering, a few cute doggos and even some kids giving out licorice which was really nice of them. The love is always super appreciated as that’s the motivation needed on the course. Well, at least I know I feel happy and motivated when people are out there cheering for us and trying to help.
Before I knew it I was in the final homestretch and I made it over the line to collect my medal. Both legs were cramped up but it didn’t last too long and I managed to pose for some photos. The post race area was a hot mess because goodie bags were right at the entrance and it was stopping up the area. I grabbed a handful of things and went back to the car to get stretched out and settled so I could cheer my friend in.
Overall, I’d say the race was great in terms of being flat and PR friendly, but its not as scenic as I’d hoped and the lack of crowd sucked. Better signage / information for the start would have also been nice. Lots of people had different answers to questions which had me running around confused for some time. This is one of the races you’d need headphones for if you look forward to crowd support because there wasn’t too much. I enjoy crowd love and I’m not trying to BQ….. so i’ll keep my options open.