Cactus and dry heat aren’t the only things you can find in the Arizona desert. There are also some quality trails and fast runners.
The XTERRA Arizona Trail Run Series is proof of that.
The Arizona Series made its debut on the XTERRA Trail Run schedule in 2011 and has been going strong since. Due to its unique climate and geography, the races in the Arizona Series offer some of the most challenging conditions in the area.
“Of course, it can get pretty hot out there, so that’s the first thing that comes to mind,” Arizona series director Shannon Lindner said. “But with all the mountains, you can find some great climbing. And in the dry desert weather, the dirt and rocks tend to be loose, so you really have to watch your footing, and that’s hard to do sometimes because there are some very scenic trails.”
Because the heat can get extreme during the summer months in Arizona, the series does not schedule races during that time of the year. The races are usually held in the fall, winter, or early spring.
“During those months, it can actually be pretty nice running weather,” Lindner said. “Especially in the morning.”
Each race in the series offers two courses – a “short” course of less than 10 kilometers, and a long course that is usually 20 kilometers or longer. All races are open to runners of all ages and skill levels.
Most of the runners are from Arizona, but it is open to runners from anywhere. John Fitzgerald and his girlfriend, Hannah Riedl, made a trip from Montana to enter an XTERRA Arizona race recently, and said they would like to make it an annual event. Fitzgerald said he put on an XTERRA temporary tattoo on his shoulder for the race and joked that he didn’t want to shower after the event because he didn’t want the tattoo to come off.
“I love the atmosphere and the attitude that the racers have,” Fitzgerald said. “And we got to enjoy the area that we were racing in -- we camped during our stay in Arizona. We definitely want to come back.”
To register for a race in the XTERRA Arizona Trail Run Series, or to learn more about it, please visit www.aztrailrace.com.