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#13 – Desert Classic Marathon

Marathon Man - Desert Classic Marathon

2 February 2013 – 4 hrs 56 min

Well the adventure across the USA with back to back marathons in Arizona and Florida really did take it out of me. The accommodation rates in Miami were generally very high in comparison to other areas in the USA and it was a priority to find a bed to catch up on some rest.

I fortunately found a place at the Days Inn close to Miami Airport and later ordered pizza before looking for a sleep in the next day. Now unfortunately this did not eventuate with workmen hammering away on the hotel roof close to 9am. Despite phone calls to alert the Front Desk staff this fell on deaf ears and I soon found myself looking for Plan B.

The flight plans out of Miami were limited with very high rates and it turned out there were better options leaving from Fort Lauderdale. Having returned the rental car after the marathon I soon found myself back at Miami Airport to hire another car with Shuttle Services and public transport either too expensive or confusing to find an economical hotel option.

I booked a room at the Red Roof Inn close to Fort Lauderdale and soon found myself arriving to a large hotel with lots of parking although on arrival to the Front Desk there was a sign warning of excessive noise due to trains with the line running directly behind the hotel. After enquiring as to how regularly the trains passed by and being told it was every few minutes this set off alarm bells. It was all too much when I was told the only room available was close to the trains and the noise would be unavoidable.

Marathon Man - Desert Classic Marathon

Marathon Man – Desert Classic Marathon

Fine – the room was cancelled and after finding some food at Subway another room booked at the Econolodge. This hotel was poorly located with few services or restaurants close by although by this stage I was simply searching for a place to rest and recover. The next few days were spent resting prior to leaving on Wednesday for a 12 hour adventure across to Phoenix via Chicago.

This was my first time to Chicago and the change in weather was amazing, leaving warm beach conditions in Florida and touching down at Chicago O’Hare Airport to find snow falling on the tarmac. It really was a reminder of the size of the USA and the incredible variety in this incredible nation. It was very good that the transit through Chicago did not require me to venture outside with temperatures around 30°F or -1°C.

I am looking forward to the opportunity to hopefully return to Chicago later in the year for the marathon, with warmer weather promised on October 13. The plan to return to Phoenix was to see my Dad’s ex wife Carol who lives in Scottsdale and share some time prior to the next marathons – Saturday in Arizona and then Sunday in California.

Following a good few days taking care of the necessary washing duties, spending time with good people and seeing a little of the local area it was time to focus on the mission ahead for the weekend. There were two marathons in Arizona to choose from on Saturday with the Sedona Marathon and the Desert Classic Marathon. In the end I decided to go with the Desert Classic Marathon with reduced drive time and the option for a early start from 6am compared with a 9am start in Sedona.

The drive to the start line for the Desert Classic Marathon was very straightforward with the event located in the uniquely named Surprise, Arizona. I arrived ahead of schedule just after 5am and registered to find myself on the early start line at 6am with another dozen or so runners for the second week in a row in the darkness of the early morning.

Marathon Man - Desert Classic Marathon

Marathon Man – Desert Classic Marathon

Following the early start I soon found myself charging out in front with no one close by. The beauty of the sunrise behind me was absolutely spectacular. I could hear the distant sounds of coyotes in the hills and was a little concerned as I had visions of these wild animals chasing me down the highway. It was not until around 6 miles in that a girl approached and scared the living daylights out of me in the wilderness with only a few passing cars keeping me company prior.

There were only a few porta-potty or portable toilets along the out and back course and this was a real challenge to make sure each spot was reached on this day. Like the week before there were few runners around until close to the half way point with two lead runners from the 7am start group flying by at around the 11 mile point.

Now I must admit that perhaps it was due to the early start or the lack of light, but I did not feel as though the first half of the marathon was downhill. Regardless, the return 13 miles to the finish seemed to include a number of uphill sections.

This event has to go down as one of the best marked events for a marathon on a major highway with the bright orange cones at regular intervals all the way along the side of the road. I spotted the Sherriff in his big black SUV regularly patrolling the course, and I was not too sure if this was for the protection of runners or to ensure runners did not cross onto the road.

Marathon Man - Desert Classic Marathon

Marathon Man – Desert Classic Marathon

There were a number of runners passing by me on the return journey home although with another marathon ahead in California the next day it was important to keep it together and come home as strongly as possible. After crossing the finish line another runner who finished just after me was recovering on the ground complaining of stomach cramps when not one, but two ambulances arrived. With stretcher out they attended to the runner by providing first aid. It all seemed a little over the top to me although better to be safe…

I was soon on the road back towards Phoenix to find some lunch before catching up on a few hours sleep and doing a final wash before heading to the airport later that night to fly to Los Angeles prior to the drive towards Huntington Beach in Orange County.

2013 Statistics:

Marathons Run – 13
Total Distance Run – 548.5 km / 340.6 miles
US States Completed – AZ, CA, FL, NV, TX
Total Drive Distance – 1,203 km / 748 miles
Total Flight Distance – 11,253 km / 6,993 miles

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