Hello to the folks who have signed up for the November 2 Grand Canyon Trail Half Marathon. Race Director Randy Accetta here, with some last-minute training advice, a few suggestions on what to pack, an updated weekend schedule, and an updated overview of the course.

If you have questions on last minute training or on race day logistics, please email Randy at randy@runtucson.net or Tia at tia@runtucson.net .

We're excited about this race and we'll see you next month!

Randy

Last Minute Training Advice
Even with only a few weeks to go, you can still improve your fitness. If you're an experienced runner, you already know what works best for you, so stick with your typical training regimen. But if you're less experienced and if you are not battling any injuries, there are two types of workouts that will still help you be prepared for race day:
1) You may consider doing some fartlek or more structured track-style repetitions where you run at an uncomfortable pace for between 2-4 minutes each, with an equal amount of recovery -- the goal is to make yourself breath hard and teach your body to adapt to moderate anaerobic stress, which may help you with the altitude on race day. For many folks, something like 15-30 minutes of fatiguing running will help race day improvement. (Example: warm up with 10-15 minutes of light jogging, then do 4 minutes at an uncomfortable pace -- perhaps what you can do for a 5k or a 10k -- then recover by walking/jogging for an equal time -- then do it again and again, for a total of 30-45 minutes.)

2) The Long Run: For those doing the Half-Marathon, now is the time to get in a final longer run to prepare for the rigors of being on the course. For some people, this means running for close to the total amount of time you think it will take you on race day. For others, running about 9 miles (up to three-fourths of the race distance), prepares them to handle the full amount on race day. (Of course, the verb "run" also means adding walk breaks as needed, so you can intentionalize a run/walk interval or simply walk whenever you feel like it.)

Of course, you want to be fresh on race day, so please don't do a Long Run the week of the race! Also, be sure to practice race day clothing and fueling. See below for additional suggestions.
 
What to Pack
Many of you are coming from low altitude locations, so it may be better to overpack for a weekend at high altitude. At this writing, we can't anticipate the specific weather, but we recommend that you pack enough clothes to have layers available for any type of weather. When in doubt, please choose safety over performance. 

If it is hot: If race day dawns warm and sunny, please be sure to have a hat with a brim. You may wish to wear sunscreen, but much of the course is shaded by the various pine, fir, spruce, and juniper trees. On a hot day, be sure to stay hydrated with water and drinks that contain salt and electrolytes.
 
If it is cold: If race day is chilly (or worse), you should probably wear layers. Many runners like a synthetic undergarment that wicks away moisture. Be sure to have headwear of some sort, either a beanie-type hat that covers your ears, a headband that covers your ears, or at least a brimmed cap to keep your skull warm and keep sunshine at bay. You may want to consider running tights and a wind jacket that guards against a cold breeze. The race shirt is a heather-blend long-sleeve, but we recommend that you bring clothes you have worn in the past.
 
If it is wet: If it is raining, sleeting, or snowing, you would be well-served wearing layers and a performance jacket that keeps moisture from leaking onto your skin and fends off the wind.

Recommended Footwear: As you can see in the photos way below, much of the course is on pretty rugged terrain, with rocks, roots, and hard-packed and soft dirt. Personally, we like knobby-soled trail shoes for such terrain, but you know your feet better than we do so perhaps pack a couple of pairs and decide on race day which is best for you.
 
What to Eat and Drink
We are grateful to Gatorade for donating product to this RRCA Championship event and to GU Energy labs for donating packets of their wonderful GU energy gel.

We will have aid stations at approximately Miles 3, 6, 9, and 11.5, with water at every stop, and Gatorade at Mile 6 and Mile 11.5, and GU packets at Miles 6 and 9. (Please do not litter on the course!)

Having said that, please bring your own fuel as you need. We recommend water or sports drinks that have electrolytes and sodium, with whatever snacks you will find helpful. 
 
This race takes place at high altitude, so please be sure to hydrate in the days before traveling to Northern Arizona – and be sure to hydrate in the 24 hours before the race. We recommend drinking not just water but sports drinks and/or fruit drinks to ensure that you have sodium, sugars, and electrolytes in your system. (As you can tell, we want to guard against hyponatremia on race day, which can be caused by taking in too much water for the system to handle.)
 
Common advice is to ensure that you nourish yourself with complex carbohydrates, healthy proteins, and healthy fats (while some suggest that you ensure bringing in additional iron when running at altitude). You know your GI tract better than we do, so we will leave it to you to ensure that you have the fuels that you need. For example, one of our athletes brings sushi with him on long runs, but that may not work for all of you . . .

Weekend Schedule
Friday, November 1
Time: 4:30 – 7:30 pm Packet Pickup and Last-Minute Registration
Location: IMAX Theater , 450 AZ-64, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023
Our team of volunteers will be on hand in the lobby to help you pick up your race materials, including race number, race shirt, a copy of the course map, and (if you ordered it) your National Park Pass.
YES: we have unisex and women's sizing in the t-shirt
YES: all shirts are first-come, first-served in terms of sizing
YES: you can pick up for your friends and family; this is a small race, so no ID needed
YES: please be patient with your fellow runners and please be nice to the volunteers
NO: you cannot pick up your finisher's medal before finishing the race – you gotta’ do the race on Saturday!
 
7:30-8:30 Pre-Race Meeting
Join us in the IMAX theater for a pre-race meeting to review the course, receive last-minute updates, and ask any questions you may have.
 
Saturday, November 2: Race Morning at start/finish area in the IMAX parking lot (inside the IMAX lobby if the weather is bad)
8:30 am: Packet pick-up -- ending 15 minutes before each of the race events
10:00 am: Half-Marathon Start (207 currently registered)
10:15 am: 5k Run/Walk Start (71 registrants)
11:00 am: Family Mile: We don't have any registrations for the Family Mile, so we'll play that by ear...
2:00 pm: Athletes should have crossed Mile 11. Race organizers reserve the right to pick up athletes who have not gotten to Mile 11 by 2:00 pm, depending on weather and safety conditions
2:15 pm or so: Begin Award Ceremony and Charity Give
2:45 pm: Timing at Finish Line Closes

Final details on course safety will be be determined in coordination with the Tusayan Fire Department and Kaibab National Forest personnel on event day, as the situation warrants.

Pancake Breakfast
On race day, from 8:00 - 12:00 the Tusayan Fire Department will hold a fundraising pancake breakfast, so tell your friends and family to bring a few bucks to snag some hot breakfast!

Where To Stay: We are grateful to members of the Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce for supporting the race. You can see their website ( https://grandcanyoncvb.org/where-to-stay/tusayan-lodging ) for lodging opportunities. Our race crew is staying at the Red Feather Lodge, as both the Holiday Inn Express & Suites and the Red Feather Lodge are official sponsors.
UPDATED COURSE INFORMATION
Near Mile 3 climbing one of the rugged early sections.
Near Mile 7.5, cruising under the historic Grand Canyon Rail tracks
The first and last mile of the 5k course and the last mile of the half marathon is on this paved trail, with dirt alongside.
Course Overview: The Half-Marathon course is a clockwise loop, designed to put the demanding sections of the race early, when you're more chipper. The race will will start at the IMAX parking lot, and head south on the sidewalk on the west side of Highway 64 before crossing onto the bike path of Long Jim Loop for another couple of hundred yards, before you head south onto the dirt roads of the Kaibab National Forest. 

The next 3-4 miles are on Forest Service Road #2607, which will be pretty rugged, with a bunch of "rolling uphill" and some challenging footing (see the photo from near Mile 3), so it'll be a bit slow.

From approximately Mile 4-8 the trail smooths out and drops in a "rolling downhill" manner -- the footing is easier and you can probably get in a nice little rhythm, especially once you get onto Forest Service Road 2604. Near Mile 7.5 you'll go under the historic railroad tracks, then go under them again near Mile 8-- it's a fun little figure-S of a section. Mile 9-11 winds through what is called the Coconino Wash, with pretty smooth footing and some especially nice forested views. 

Mile 11-12 is mostly on the well-travelled dirt road #328, with some significant downhill -- you should be able to make good time at this portion of the course. 

From approximately Mile 12 to the finish you will be on a paved multi-use path, part of which is the famed Arizona Trail. You can run on the pavement, but there is also dirt alongside if you favor the softer surface. This largely downhill section should give you a pretty quick finish to the finish line with nice shade and the chance to push pace a bit.

The Half-Marathon course is almost exactly 13.1 miles (but may be long by as much as .1 or .2 -- hard to tell with the different measuring devices). The maps we've included come from MayMyRun, which says this: This is a 13.19 mi route. The route has a total ascent of 555.58 ft and has a maximum elevation of 6,729.3 ft. 

NOTE: The Kaibab Forest will be open to others on race day. We will have signage explaining that a special event is occurring, but please note that others may be using the trails and roads.
 
Half-Marathon Water Stations:  at approximately Mile 3 with water, Mile 6 with water, 9 (with water and Gatorade), and 11.5 (with water and Gatorade).
 
5k Water Stations: at the turn-around, 1.55 miles from the starting line
 
PortoJohns : There will be bathrooms at start/finish line, in the IMAX theater. There are no portojohns allowed on the race course.
  
The 5k Route: The 5k will be an out and back, starting at the Finish Line and heading north on the multi-use path. At approximately 8/10 of a mile the 5k course will turn left (west) and head onto the dirt road. At 1.55 miles you will see the turnaround marker and the Water Station. The “out” portion rolls gently uphill, the “back” portion is a swift and smooth drop to the finish line.

Water and Aid Stations: We want you to be self-sufficient on the race course, so please be sure to pack what you think you will need.

Having said that, we will have volunteers on the course to support you. We'll have water and Gatorade at at least four spots (probably near Mile 3, 6, 9, and 11.5. We'll have plenty of food and water at the finish line, with support from the Tusayan Fire Department, Coconino County Sheriff, and others as needed. We'll give more details on this over the coming weeks.

OK -- that's more than enough. We'll send more info as we get closer to race day!


Randy
Who We Are
Tia and son Aric at the Grand Canyon in a May snowstorm, after checking out the Half-Marathon course
Randy and daughter Anabelle at the Grand Canyon in April.

Feel free to do a google search on us to get the real scoop, but Run Tucson is headed up by a husband-wife team located in Tucson, Arizona where we're raising a 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter. As life-long runners, we produce races in Tucson and coach runners in Tucson and around the country.

Raised in Walla Walla, WA, Tia ran cross country and track at the University of Idaho. She is an RRCA Certified coach with an M.A. in Education. She currently coaches runners from around the country via online coaching, while also heading up The Workout Group, a training group in Tucson originally started back in 1997 by Randy and Greg Wenneborg (who will be doing the race timing).

Tia has run a couple of 2:48 marathons and is currently training for the Chicago Marathon.

For the past 7 years Randy has been the Director of Coaching Education for the RRCA, heading up their nationally-renowned coaching certification program. Between now and race day, Randy heads to Kansas City, Charlotte, and the Tampa Bay area to teach sold-out seminars in run coaching.

Years ago he was the Director of Programs at the well-known Craftsbury Running Camp and was the Arizona coach for Team in Training. He also teaches at the University of Arizona. Sadly, as a runner, he has slowed down considerably since running a 2:19 marathon a long, long time ago.

As race producers, we partner with many local suppliers in Tucson, but we also work closely with national running community leaders like the RRCA, Ashworth Awards, Leslie Jordan Designs, Greenlayer Sports, and others.

This autumn we have produced the Saguaro National Park Labor Day Run, one of the few races allowed on National Park Service lands. We are also in the midst of preparations for the TMC Tucson 10k on September 16th and the TMC A-Mountain Half-Marathon and 5k in Tucson on October 27th.

Our local mission at Run Tucson is to make Tucson a better place to live through running -- our national mission is to inspire happy lives through running.

Thus, this opportunity to help produce the Grand Canyon Trail Half Marathon fits our passion perfectly -- we can improve a local community while providing an inspirational event for the national running community!

We'll add you to our emailing list so you can see the events we put on -- we'll give all of you discounts to our home-town races just to give you another reason to travel to Arizona!
For information about our events, the RRCA, and The Workout Group, contact Randy Accetta
(520) 991-0733
For information about in-person, online, or group coaching, contact contact Tia Accetta.
(520)891-4369