This past Sunday I ran the Synchrony Financial Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon for the first time! This was my 5th half marathon with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. I chose to run Arizona because it was close enough to drive there from home and I know Rock ‘n’ Roll always puts on a great event! The Rock ‘n’ Roll races are always really well organized, have a fun crowd of participants, spectators, and volunteers! And this year they even got a little makeover with new mile markers that we could see and hear from a distance, and aid station signage!
We got to the Health & Fitness Expo on Saturday in the early afternoon and even though it was buzzing with activity, getting my bib and t-shirt took no time at all. Walking around the Expo was a little crowded but nothing out of the ordinary. My kiddos love to visit the booths and vendors with free samples and games. They had the most fun at the Toyota booth playing their games for prizes!
With a race start time of 7:50 am, I didn’t have to wake up too early in comparison to other half marathon start times, so that was a really nice perk! We also liked the free parking! The walk from the parking lot to the starting area wasn’t too far. The weather was brisk for this desert gal, but I knew that it would warm up quickly so I wore a running skirt and t-shirt, plus my new favorite Rock ‘n’ Roll trucker hat!
I was in corral 11 and the wave start times were running smoothly about every 2-3 minutes so it took about 25 minutes or so to cross the start line. Once the race started, the course was as advertised – flat. The first part of the course is not very scenic but having bands and DJs at just about every mile made it fun. It definitely seemed like they had more music than the past few events I have run with Rock ‘n’ Roll, which was awesome!
Once we got to Papago Park, the scenery changed; it felt so good to run through some nice desert scenery and see the iconic Arizona saguaro cacti. This was also the only part of the course that had a slight incline. But, it was a short out and back section so getting to run a little decline was nice too. 🙂
Another favorite part of the race for me was running across N. Mill Ave. over Salt River. Not only is it a pretty view, but it’s also close the finish line!! Once we crossed the river spectators were lined up all along the finish line area and cheering us on for the last stretch! That’s always my favorite part of running a race!! I also really liked that they had big screens at the finish line to view the runners coming in. This was also something new for 2018. The finish line chute was pretty short and we were soon able to meet up with our families and enjoy the festival.
The finish line festival at Tempe Beach park was really nice too! There was plenty of grassy areas (albeit the grass was dry since it was winter) to sit and stretch. The gear check trucks were clearly visible for those picking up their bags. There were food trucks lined up to for hungry runners! I sat and stretched for a bit, then went over to get my free beer!! I listened to the headliner, Everclear, for a bit. I was happy it was a band I knew and listened to over the years!
All and all, I enjoyed the race, especially the last 5 miles or so due to the nice scenery! I always recommend Rock ‘n’ Roll races and it seems like they are getting better this year and I’m excited to see what more is to come. I’d recommend running Arizona to anyone looking for a fun, flat course with pretty perfect running weather!