2012 Mesquite Canyon 1/2 Marathon Race Report

by Charles Thursday, March 15th 2012

With so many great opportunities to hike, climb and adventure around Tucson I rarely take advantage of the outdoor destinations outside of Phoenix. But this March I was tempted up to White Tank Mountain Regional Park to take part in the 1/2 Marathon length of Araviapa Running's Mesquite Canyon Race. The Mesquite Canyon Race has 50km, 30km, 1/2 Marathon and 8km lengths and is the sixth, and final, race in the Desert Runner Trail (DRT) Series.

I arrive at the start just after the 50km runners start and have plenty of time to get my number, take a few sips of coffee and see the 30km runners head off before I line up for the start of the 1/2 Marathon.

Start of the Mesquite Canyon Half Marathon

I start near the back, no need to go out too fast, and settle into an easy pace behind a runner in a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. The first few miles are relatively flat and wind thru the Saguaro and Cholla on the Ironwood, Ford Canyon and Waddell Trails - I don't really know the course and, even with other runners around, appreciate the ribbons and signs Araviapa Racing has placed to mark the course.

After a few miles the course turns west onto the Mesquite Canyon trail and the first climb begins - as the grade steepens the runners spread out.

Mesquite Canyon
Runners on the Mesquite Canyon Trail

At the Mesquite Aid Station the course turns onto the Willow Canyon Trail. A bit more climbing takes us up to a section of flat trail on the hillside above Willow Canyon, a chance to recover and take in the views of the canyon.

Willow Canyon
The Mesquite Canyon Trail along Willow Canyon

Too soon (for me anyway) we start to climb again - Ford Canyon Trail and then back onto the Mesquite Canyon Trail around point 3032 - and, after a bit more walking than I thought I would do, the course starts to head downhill! The views put a smile on my face and I pick up the pace - but soon faster runners fly by me, at first I am surprised by their speed, but eventually I realize that some of the lead 50k runners (including 50k winner and Salomon Team member Eric Bohn) are streaking by.

Long Downhill
Heading downhill!

By the time I am back to the last few miles of relatively flat trail thru the desert I am tired! I press on and on and eventually hear faint cheers from the finish that grow closer and closer until I finally come across the finish line! 2:32:59 - certainly not speedy, but a great time for me! I sit for awhile and enjoy the drinks and food, cheer for other runners and watch a few of the DRT Series winners collect their awards before heading back to Tucson.

Tired but happy after finishing!

I really loved my first experience at Mesquite Canyon - wonderful course in a location I am not sure I would have ever seen otherwise, Araviapa Racing does a great job running the race, nice variety of course lengths to choose from and plenty of friendly people to run with - I think I might have to go back next year!

Gear Notes:

Balega Soft Tread Quarter - Nice fit and feel, a bit of cushion but not too bulky - I have been using these for several months now and are my current favorite for trail running.

Salomon S-Lab Gaiters - Comfortable enough that I don't have to stop and adjust during a run, quick and easy to put on/take off and great at keeping dirt and debris out of my shoes!

Mountain Hardwear Mighty Power 3/4 Tight - Soft and stretchy with mesh panels that provide some extra breathability, almost too hot on this run (certainly not a summer item in Phoenix/Tucson!) but these have been great for me all winter.

The North Face Velocitee Short Sleeve Crew - Light, comfortable and a great price!

Head Sweats Summit Hut Race Hat - A quality hat with a nice fit.

Events | Gear

The Authors

Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!