"Disclaimer: I received a complimentary race entry for the Sedona Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"
When you think of scenic marathons, you might think of ones in California, Hawaii, or maybe even one in one of the national parks. If you are inspired by nature, you should add the Sedona Marathon to your bucket list! If you're not familiar with Sedona, it's located about 2 hours north of the Phoenix area. Sedona is known for it's red rock buttes, mild climate, forests, Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona red dirt and spiritual vortexes. It sits at around 4,500 feet elevation.
The race takes place on Super Bowl weekend, and offers a 5k, 10k, half and full marathon. I registered a few months in advance and received plenty of communication leading up to the race including final details with maps, parking and shuttle instructions.
This is definitely deserving of “racecation” status. I talked my husband into coming up for the weekend with our son, it made for a quick but gorgeous getaway! Below was the view from our budget-friendly hotel:
We live 2 hours south in the Phoenix area, so it was a pretty easy drive up on a Friday afternoon. Packet pickup was held at Yavapai College, right off the main road and even that building had a stunning backdrop. Clif bars were right outside giving samples and then they had 2 rooms, one marked “registration", and on the opposite side of the courtyard was “t shirt pickup”. I was a little confused. I was already registered, so I went to the tshirt pickup and was told I had to go to registration for my bib. Oops. It’s a teeny tiny “expo”, really just Sedona marathon merchandise and last minute race supplies. Very small town friendly vibe. There was no real goodie bag, just the bib and tech t-shirt. Below was the view from the expo.
Our hotel was only a few miles down the road, but since my family was joining me on this trip and would need the car to come meet me at the race, I decided to use the free race shuttle. It was about a 5 minute walk from my hotel to the shuttle, easy peasy. The driver even gave us a few local tips along the way.
The full marathon started at 9AM, with each race starting every 10 minutes after that. Mine was at 9:20. That is a true luxury in the racing world, I could have coffee, chill, walk around and take in all that scenery ahead of time. Pre-race there were plenty of snacks from Clif bar to try and other vendors to check out.
I have run marathons all over the country including Maui, Honolulu and even Cozumel, Mexico – and I have to say that the start line and race course for Sedona is one of the prettiest if not the prettiest I have ever seen.
I ran the 10k, it was an out and back course that also followed the half and full. Within the first 5 minutes we started climbing and climbing and I was worried I would have to walk a lot. Finally we got into some rolling hills and I started feeling more confident that I could handle it. The turnaround is at the bottom of a HUGE hill. As we were going down, I was swearing because I was thinking about having to come back up this hill. Ugh. As it turns out, that was the only hard thing on the way back. Once you are up and over that first hill, it was smooth sailing, with smaller rolling hills and more downhill. Thank goodness. You know it’s epic scenery when a runner will stop during the race to take pictures. I saw many people do that, and I took a few while I was still moving. The view ahead was always jaw-dropping.
I caught up with one of my fellow BibRave Pros, Cassie (above) for a quick runfie. There were about 2000 people that run the entire race events.
The medal is part of a series where each year is a piece of a 4 year pie. I was disappointed to see that everyone gets the same exact medal and ribbon, no matter which distance they ran. This is one of my pet peeves and something I hope they will consider changing for future races. Even a customized ribbon would make it more unique and special to the runner.
I had a decent finish time, considering the hills. I finished 8th out of 41 in my age group. I'm less than a month back into running after being off for 6 weeks due to a fractured fibula - so I'm just thrilled to be out running races at all!
My family and I enjoyed visiting Sedona, and will plan on staying longer next time. There is so much to do and see, great hiking trails, great restaurants and more. We took in a few sights with a local hike and seeing a little snow (exciting for Phoenicians). I will probably attempt the half next time, and maybe even the full someday. I heard that 60% of the full is on a (Sedona red) dirt road, which sounds nice to me.
My recommendation - Put the Sedona Marathon on your race bucket list, and make a racecation out of it!!
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!