Disclaimer: I didn’t really take pictures while in Mesa. I have pictures of the delicious food we ate and also of this flamingo beer bong that some guy on our plane was bringing along to spring training.
The Mesa/ Phoenix Marathon lived up to its reputation of being a fast course: Jim PR’ed at this race, and I ended up with my second fastest marathon time. In fact, this marathon lived up to just about every race review comment—positive or negative—that I read.
I was expecting a fast, mostly- boring, course with a 1,000 foot drop during the first twelve miles, and that’s exactly what I got. The race begins just below the large, white Phoenix sign painted on Usery Mountain. The view from the start line is spectacular: the sun is just beginning to rise at 7:00 AM, and the race kicks off with a fireworks display. The first five miles are lovely, with views of the mountains, dessert, and city below. However, the course quickly devolves into a series of subdivisions and state highways that aren’t particularly scenic. The race continues to be fast throughout, though. There are few turns, and we had plenty of road to spread out and run on. There was a hill around mile 5 that slowed me down (it was my slowest mile of the race), and another incline at miles 22- 24. Otherwise, the course was downhill or flat, and I never felt like I was struggling. (Perhaps this means that I should have run faster during those last few miles!)
I had also read that the parking for the start line shuttles and the organization at the start line itself left something to be desired. I would agree with this assessment as well. Jim and I stayed at the Hyatt Place which was at mile 26 on the course. This was an excellent decision as it allowed us to walk back from the post- race party and also meant that we didn’t have to try and park our car the day of the race. As our shuttle pulled away for the start line, we saw a line of cars backed up all the way to the interstate; everyone was trying to park for this race. The start line itself had bonfires, heating lights, and water bottles which was nice. We were also allowed to stay on the busses to keep warm until the race began. My complaint lies solely with the lack of portapotties at the start line. I got in line 35 minuets before the race began and missed the starting gun. Beginning a race by sprinting past the walkers was pretty much the worst.
Aside from this, I liked the race. It rivaled Indianapolis for speed, and had a been prepared for how fast the course was going to be, I likely could have done a bit better. The aid stations were well stocked and there were some enthusiastic crowds along the course. The post- race meal was really great: barbeque, mac and cheese, and French toast.
As an added bonus, Jim was able to catch a Cubs spring training game on Saturday after the race. (He was literally able to walk from the race to our hotel and then from our hotel to the ballpark. How well did I plan that?!) An added- added bonus was meeting up with our friend, Thai, and my cousin, Jared, for dinner on Saturday. Thai’s choice in restaurants never disappoints!
Lingering Question: I have no idea why this is still called the Mesa/ Phoenix marathon. At no time did we run through the city of Phoenix. This is the Mesa Marathon. Period.
Sub 4:00 State #14, BQ State #12, Sub 3:30 State #5
Finish Time: 3:27:03
Overall Place Within My Gender: 79/ 879
Favorite Race Day Song: “Lose Yourself” Eminem
Total Training Miles: 3364
Shoe Total: 10