Hello again to the folks who have registered for the Grand Canyon Trail Half Marathon. You should have received an email from Laura Chastain at the Grand Canyon Chamber and Visitor's Bureau explaining why they're excited about the race and why they invited us at Run Tucson to produce the race with them,.

We at Run Tucson thought it was time to send some details on the course, with some photos, race maps, and training advice. Below that you'll find a quick intro to Run Tucson.

We don't want to overload your inbox, but over the coming weeks we'll send race updates, training advice, travel advice, and other items that we hope will enhance your trip to the Grand Canyon region.

Of course, if you have any questions, please feel free to send us a note and we'll try to get it taken care of! See you in a couple of months!

Randy and Tia
Near Mile 3 climbing one of the rugged early sections.
Near Mile 7.5, cruising under the historic Grand Canyon Rail tracks
Near Mile 12, with about a mile of paved and mostly downhill to the finish.
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 in . The route has a total ascent of 555.58 ft and has a maximum elevation of 6,729.3 ft. 

The 5k Route: the 5k will be an out and back on this multi-use path. Our goal is to make this family-friendly, so it is perfect for running with a jogging-stroller and for children and others.

Water and Aid Stations: We want you to be self-sufficient on the race course, but our plan is to have plenty of people on the course to support you. We'll have water and Gatorade at at least four spots (probably near Mile 4, 7, 10, and 12. 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.

Training Implications: As you can tell from this course description, you'll have some chances to run pretty fast, but you'll also have plenty of trail sections where the footing is a bit tricky. 

It sounds like many of you are experienced runners, so you already know how to prepare for a trail half at altitude. But if you're new to this sort of stuff, you might consider some fartlek workouts at variable paces -- perhaps consider a workout like this:

Jog 15 minutes, and take some time to stretch and activate your running muscles

Do a basic 30 minute total effort: 1 minute at a quick and speedy pace followed by 1 minute at a slow jog pace. Do this for a total of 15 fast repetitions, or 30 minutes total.

Jog another 15 minutes or so. This basic workout will take about an hour and can be squeezed into a mid-week run.

If you're in good shape and experienced, you'll be able to extend the speed bouts and do the workout on a trail to simulate race conditions -- and maybe extend variations on your weekend long run.

The goal is to teach your body to shift gears, playing with speed so that you can vary between running faster than comfortable and settling back into at a comfortable recovery pace.

If you can do this once a week for a few weeks in a row, you'll be able to shift gears on the race course. The terrain on the course lends itself to variable pace running, so this workout will prepare you to take advantage of what the course gives you.

Another Benefit: This type of peppy workout that puts you in cardiorespiratory stress has the advantage of teaching your body to adapt to anaerobic stress-- which may help you with the altitude on race day.

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


Run Tucson is headed up by a husband-wife team located in Tucson, 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. 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.

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!
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.
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.