Sunday, March 22, 2015

Xterra Black Canyon Trail Run-Arizona

The Xterra Black Canyon 9K Trail Run was the coolest and most unique race I have participated in to date!  The race took place on the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, just on the edge of Black Canyon City, AZ!  When we initially drove through the race area the day before, I certainly wondered what I had gotten myself in to. There were mountains, major climbs, and elevation changes all around us on the highway.

One of the views from the highway.
After taking in some tourist sights, including Montazuma's Castle and the quaint city of Jerome, we settled in for the evening at the Comfort Inn of Camp Verde, AZ.

The next morning we headed south to Black Canyon City, about a 40 minute drive. I checked in, while my family/fans enjoyed breakfast at the local cafe. Pre-race discussion included rattlesnakes and the uncharacteristic high water levels of the river.  Evidently there had been a bumper crop of rattlesnakes this year.  Now that information made this MN girl a little nervous.  I wasn't sure even what to do when faced with a snake. Do you run by, stop, or turn around?  According to the race announcer, the first person to run by scares the snake, the second pisses it off, and the third gets bit. Also, if you see a stick on the trail it's probably a rattler!  All the rattlesnake discussion made me quite leary.  Next, the river actually had water flowing this year due to the recent rain and snow melting from Flagstaff. We were told that it was about knee high in one area.  Thankfully, all my triathlon experience has made me very comfortable in water, so I just worried about the snakes. :)
Lining up the 9K runners.
Shortly after the announcements, we were off on the 9K route which started on a gravel road. At around a quarter mile the group bottle necked as the single track trail began. I climbed and wound my way around switchbacks with the other runners and then crested at the peak of the mountain. There were glorious views from that vantage point. 

Beginning the single track adventure.
What a view!
Next, we started decending into the river canyon.  Once at the bottom of the canyon, a significant part of the course was on riverbed rocks, which seemed to slow the majority of the runners down. Trying to navigate the uneven terrain made it necessary to walk in order to maintain the integrity of our ankles. The two river crossings were refreshingly cool, although they made my feet feel heavy as my shoes were now wet and full of sand and mud.
River crossing #1
Once again we navigated more rocks along the river canyon bed. The second water stop was at the base of the canyon, where the 9K runners met up with the half marathon runners.  We enjoyed a quick drink and began the ascent out of the canyon!  After climbing to the top, we again had amazing views before decending to the finish!

Rocks, rocks, and rocks!
Arizona beauty!
I certainly felt very accomplished finishing the 9K race, especially with the wide variety of terrain, elevation, and climbs.  The race was a wonderful way to get off the beaten path and experience some of Arizona's back country. I would highly recommend this run to anyone!  And the best part-I did NOT see any rattlesnakes!

State #8 Complete!

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    First off, thanks for taking the time to write out your blog posts!

    I'm just beginning my own triathlon journey and to help myself and other novice triathletes get off the ground, I've built out a simple triathlon training tool called Triathlon Ready (

    I'm looking for feedback from experienced athletes to help make this the best tool it can be. Is this something you'd be interested in?

    Thanks for your time and happy new year!