1. Dress smart
While it is not unusual for the temperature to increase over the course of any long-distance running race, the Phoenix climate presents an unusually high variance in weather from start to finish. When the marathoners start at 7:40 a.m. the temperature will likely be in the 40’s. As the sun rises, so will the heat. Temperatures will reach the high 60’s by lunchtime.
Be careful not to overdress. It’s okay to be a little chilly before you start running; the rising temperature and your body heat will warm you up once you get going. If you’re concerned about staying warm pre-race, bring clothes that you don’t mind leaving behind. Rock n’ Roll will donate any clothes left behind to the Salvation Army.
2. Show up early
It seems every race organizer tells you to make sure to show up early, but it is especially important in this case. The point-to-point nature of both the half and the full marathon means that thousands of athletes will need to be dropped off in a hard-to-navigate area of downtown Phoenix.
Whether you’re being dropped off by friends or family, or taking the shuttle in from the finish line, plan to be at the start with plenty of time to spare. Use the restroom, do a short warm-up and find your corral. You will be calm and collected while others scramble around you.
3. Stick to your race plan
The design of the Arizona course makes it very easy to go out too fast. Both races start out extremely flat in the first few miles and then slowly build in elevation. You will feel great in the beginning. Stick to your pacing plan and don’t push too hard, or you will pay for it in the later miles.
4. Run in the middle of the street
This may sound like a strange tip, but it could save you from quite a bit of pain. The sides of the roads tend to be less level and more beat-up. Stick to the middle of the road and venture to the side only at fluid stations.
5. Wear sunglasses
This is a simple tip, but definitely one to take note of. It will be dark when you are lined up to start the race, but the sun will soon rise. Because the course takes runners directly east, it is important to have sunglasses. You don’t want to deal with the annoyance of squinting into the bright Arizona sun.
6. Warn your friends and relatives
The half marathon and the marathon have different finish lines. As a runner, you will have no problem navigating your way to the finish line, but it will not be as obvious to spectators. I’ve been a spectator at this race a few times, and I always see friends and family head over to the marathon finish line expecting to see their athlete finish, only to miss it because they were unintentionally watching elite runners finish the marathon instead.
7. Know the course
One of the advantages of a point-to-point course is that you get to see much more of the city you’re in. Both races cover ground in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe, making for a fun race. Because the race spans a good part of the greater Phoenix area, it is smart to drive the course before race day. It will not only help your spectators get an idea of the best place to look for you, it will also provide you with a sense of the area in case you have to drop out of the race.