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Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas
2013 3rd Annual Arizona Balloon Classic
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Arizona is Calling Race Ready Athletes
September 29, 2011
Arizona’s organized athletic events have all the makings for a fitness challenge you will never forget. Take it to the limit as you get physical with mountain trails, conquer canyon cliffs, and tread desert terrain during one of many exciting competitions held across the state. Striking mountain vistas, warm weather, and a vibrant variety of desert landscapes are calling runners, bikers, and athletes of all kinds to set their next personal best in Arizona.
Desert bike rides beneath cloudless skies are a spectacular way to take in the Arizona scenery. Enjoy it while preparing for Turkey Day during the El Tour de Tucson the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Ride along side 9,000 other cyclists from around the world through the scenic areas of Tucson. The tour includes something for everyone with various courses between 6-miles and 109-miles long, highlighting beautiful vistas of local mountain ranges. The Diamond Children’s Fun Ride, offers a 6-mile route showcasing the unique culture of the historic downtown area. The 40-mile route is the perfect family affair also great for beginners. The longer route crosses two dry sandy river beds and the shorter routes meet only one river crossing. This feel good and good for you bicycle tour also benefits a long list of non-profit agencies. The tour raised more than $1.5 million dollars for beneficiaries in 2010. http://www.perimeterbicycling.com/
Enjoy sunny fall skies during the popular Scottsdale Cycling Festival. Attracting thousands of riders The Tour de Scottsdale keeps cyclists pushing pedals through the beautiful McDowell Mountains of North Scottsdale and benefits the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy. Tour through the peaceful preserve aside the McDowell Mountains, which will eventually be the largest urban preserve in the US encompassing 36,400 acres. Get a team of five together to participate in the 70 mile course or take the enjoyable 30 mile course riding solo.
Ride the Tour de Safford to experience a desert route with some thrilling climbs, exhilarating down-hills and three distances to choose from, 104-miles, 60-miles, or 33-miles. Pass the towering pines of Mount Graham and the Black Hills backcountry. Light breakfast and lunch are provided for racers in addition to medals minted from local Morenci copper, awarded to top finishers. Family and friends waiting for riders to return can enjoy live music all day long. Visit one of the mom and pop restaurants that create the famed Salsa Trail to experience some of the best, most authentic Mexican food in the southwest.
Did you know the oldest antique to exist in Arizona is the London Bridge of Lake Havasu? The bridge originally spanned the River Thames in London, England in the 1830s and was carried over piece by piece and reassembled on the east shore of Lake Havasu. Run over this bridge, and the island it has created separating Pittsburgh Point from the city for the Havasu Marathon and 5k. The race starts at London Bridge Park overlooking Thompson Bay in Lake Havasu and wraps around the island. Both race courses are as picturesque as possible, keeping racers inspired across the bridge to the finish line. Runners and walkers of all levels are welcome to join this half marathon or the 5k race. Enjoy a festival at London Beach Bridge after the race including live music, fantastic food, beer, and vendors.
The high deserts of Arizona offer beautiful landscapes, cool temperatures, and an abundance of vineyards and wineries. Experience Arizona’s Wine Trails while exploring the high desert during the Great Arizona Grape Stomp. Channel the iconic Lucille Ball grape stomping scene while running any one of the four different 5k fun runs of the series. Beginning in Willcox, with stomps in Verde Valley, Sonoita, Elgin and a final stomp in Fountain hills, The Great Arizona Grape Stomp provides an active opportunity to tour Arizona’s wine country. Enjoy the fresh air and treat yourself to fabulous Arizona wine after your run! Participants receive a Grape Stomp t-shirt, a goody bag and a logo wine glass to save and use for tastings following the race. Proceeds from The Great Arizona Grape Stomp 5k Fun Runs benefit the Arizona Wine Growers Association which serves grape growers and winemakers in Arizona. The association strives to advance with integrity the sustainable growth and production of authentic Arizona-grown wines. http://www.arizonawine.org/grapestomp.html
Continuing to attract fun-loving and health-conscious individuals from coast to coast for 20 years and counting, the Bisbee 1000 offers a fitness challenge unlike any other. Participants are serenaded by musicians along a mile high figure eight course, climbing nine sets of steps through back road trails. The stairway system was originally built by the Work Projects Administration providing work during the Great Depression. Today the stairs course across rolling hills, offer lookouts of the town’s quaint houses and colorful gardens, while following the paths originally worn into the terrain by mules during Bisbee’s booming copper mining days. Welcoming walkers, runners, kids and adults, the Bisbee 1000 encourages physical fitness regardless of age or athletic ability. The Bisbee 1000 is one of the top 5k races in the United States for price, scenery, fun and freebies. The non-profit agency Save Our Stairs, Inc., works to maintain the old stairways, and sponsors the Bisbee 1000 which raises charitable funds for unfunded health programs in area schools and for other non-profit programs encouraging healthy living choices. Go for the gold and for the rush as you climb to the finish line of the Bisbee 1000. For an extreme sport challenge, enter the IceMan event within the Bisbee 1000. Not for the faint of heart, the Iceman Competition requires climbing a set of 155 stairs while carrying a ten pound block of ice in a set of antique metal tongs! The event began as a means of entertaining spectators and those anticipating the awards ceremony for the Bisbee 1000, and is now in the extreme sporting event category. Cash prizes are awarded to first, second, and third place winners.
Run through the historic expanse of land that is the Grand Canyon during the Grand Canyon Marathon or Tusyan Half Marathon! Experience the most awe-striking geography in the world as November brings cool temperatures to the canyon ideal for running the USATF (USA Track & Field) course. Beginning at the Hermit Interchange, just west of the Bright Angel Lodge at an elevation of 6842 ft and traveling up Hermit Road, runners pass First Trail View Overlook just after mile 1. The road and trail course brings runners to Mohave Point for an overlook of incredible canyon views. The marathon course also passes The Abyss, which has an approximate vertical drop of 3000 ft straight down over Monument Creek. The route includes a stretch along a paved "greenway" which follows the historic roadbed leading to the half way mark at Pima Point! Before reaching the finish line, participants drop nearly 700 ft in elevation, pass a mule crossing, and head into the Kaibab National Forest. The last paved mile and the finish line are found at the National Geographic Visitor Center IMAX.
The Sedona Chamber of Commerce presents the Sedona Marathon, 1/2 Marathon, 10K and 5K annually. Run this USATF course to experience the wonderful red rock cliffs and views you will remember forever. The stretches of soft ground and mild, high-desert temperatures and the scenic course make for a world- class event. All Marathon and Half Marathon finishers receive a 2012 Sedona Marathon Finisher Medal immediately upon crossing the finish line. Races are open to runners and walkers of every age and skill level. Relax beside the vine covered walls and flowing fountains of the charming Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village post-race. Here awards and $12,000 in prizes are presented to top finishers. Enjoy the Pre-Race Pasta Dinner to carbo-load the night before the race at the Elk’s Lodge of Sedona. Indulge in delicious all you can eat pasta, live entertainment, prizes, or shop for new gear!
Racing through Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale every January are the PF Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon & ½ runners! It’s no surprise that more than half of all race participants come from outside Arizona with the sunny skies and warm temperatures January brings to the state. Runners and walkers from around the world break in their sneakers to prepare for the race beginning in downtown Phoenix, winding through Scottsdale and finishing in Tempe on the Arizona State University campus. The consistently flat course and the live music at every mile give you what you need to achieve your personal best whether you might be a seasoned competitor or a first-time racer. Run like a rock star as thousands of spectators cheer you on as they jam to reggae, jazz, country and rock music. And the party isn’t over when you cross the finish line, free and open to the public, an exciting post race concert immediately follows the race at ASU’s Sun Angel Stadium. Not feeling quite prepared for a marathon or just want some fun with friends? Get a pal and a costume together to participate in the two- person relay race for the ½ marathon. Kids can also get into the running spirit at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Kids Rock Fun Run. The one mile Fun Run takes place at Tempe Marketplace. The outdoor shopping area features 1.3 million square feet of retailers, dining and nightlife destinations. The Health & Fitness Expo kicks off race weekend at the Phoenix Convention Center. Participants can pick up their race numbers and browse more than 100 vendors from the running and fitness industry. Practice for the full marathon during the official warm-up race, the Competitor Arizona 5k & 10k presented by SRP in October. This offers a taste of the rock n roll experience with a shorter distance and the opportunity to gear up for the marathon or half marathon.
Training for a triathlon or an Ironman race? The ultra distance triathlon known as the Ironman is the ultimate challenge for avid triathletes. Starting with a 2.4-mile swim in Tempe Town Lake followed by a 112-mile bike ride through the Sonoran Desert, topped off with a 26.2-mile marathon, The Ford Ironman Arizona, takes over Tempe, Arizona in November. http://ironmanarizona.com/ Or get inspired as you watch from the spectator friendly sidelines around Tempe Town Lake. If you are training, consider participating in the Soma Triathlon. Since it uses some of the same course, beginning with the same single loop swim, and bits and pieces of the same bike course, the Soma Triathlon offers the perfect tune up for the Ford Ironman Arizona. No worries if you don’t see an Ironman in your future, this could be the perfect excuse to compete and enjoy a beautiful setting. The Soma Triathlon is presented by Red Rock Co, which hosts a series of triathlon, biking, and mountain biking events throughout the state. Take a trip to Flagstaff for the Landis Cyclery Barn Burner 104. Ride through the beautiful Coconino and Kaibab National Forest and camp on private land. The Surftech RSP3 collection of events by Red Rock Co offers something for every endurance sports enthusiast. Athletes have the opportunity to do any or all of the events including a 5k run, a 1-mile open water swim, a 2-mile and 4-mile paddleboard race, or a ¼-mile elimination stand up paddle board race.
Run the Yuma Territorial Marathon and Half Marathon. This comfortable run at sea level is a fast Boston-qualifying course boasting less than 70 ft in elevation change, and amazing temperatures. Yuma boasts free board any day the sun doesn’t shine with more sunny days than any other place on earth. The race leads runners through the beauty of the desert southwest and through the rural communities that make up the heart of the nation's lettuce and winter vegetable industry. Enjoy outdoor activities from boating to off-roading post race.
Getting tired of the usual 10ks and triathlons? Race away from tradition during the AZ Urbanathlon presented by Mountainside Fitness. Jump, crawl, climb, and race for fitness and fun during this competition infusing elements of adventure racing, the television show Wipeout and live tunes. This 3-mile running event starts and ends at The Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, which is also home to The Diamondbacks during spring training. The course features 10 obstacles testing strength, speed and fitness of participants. If this 3-mile competition including 10 obstacles sounds more up to your speed visit http://www.azurbanathlon.com/
Landscapes inspire along the routes of Arizona’s athletic competitions. As you push the pedal, or sprint to the finish line with your eyes peeled the scenic course will motivate you to see more. Success feels even better when surrounded by unforgettable scenery on a sunny day. So ensure your next competition is a milestone and race Arizona!
Filed under: sedona, grand canyon, arizona, running, marathons, triathlons, cycling, active events, fitness, half marathon, urbanathlon