Saguaro Half Marathon
Tucson, AZ | March 27, 2021
- Half Marathon
Saguaro Half Marathon
Date: March 27, 2021
Start: 6:00 am in Old Tucson, AZ
End: 10:00 am
Run through the Sonoran desert on this beautiful trail outside of western Tucson. This course is a hybrid between road and trail, taking you through the secluded Tucson Mountain Park, just below the Saguaro NP West. The first mile takes you down Kinney Rd before you hop on the Golden Gate Trail through lush desert landscape. Return on the scenic McCain Loop and finish at Old Tucson Movie Studio where dozens of classic westerns were filmed.
This is a challenging course that is half road and half single track trail with some technical trail sections. There is also some elevation gain. The solitude and beauty the desert offers make it all worth it. The hybrid nature of the course provides varied views and the opportunity to venture off the beaten path.
We will start and end near Old Tucson. The first mile is on pavement, running down Kinney Rd. Runners will then hop onto the Golden Gate Trail. This trail is single track and very runnable. Watch out for the cacti! The first couple miles are a very mild and steady climb. At around mile 2 runners will cross Gates Pass Rd to hop onto Gates Pass Trail.
Runners will stay on this trail section for several miles. There is a nice little downhill from mile 2.5 to 4. But what goes down, must come up. There is a sudden climb from mile 4 to mile 5. The trail then has some nice rolling up and downs until mile 6. Gates pass connects to two other trails that eventually takes runners back to the road around mile 6.
Runners will run up Kinney Rd, past the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and then turn onto the uncrowded McCain Loop. Pay attention to the elevation profile as mile 6 to 12 on the road has some significant ups and downs.
Once you top out at mile 12, it is a nice little downhill heading south on Kinney Rd back to the finish line in the heart of Old Tucson.
Terrain & Surface Notes
The first mile is on pavement, and the next 5.5 miles are on trail. The final 6-7 miles are also on road.
Trail portions: Expect mostly hard packed dirt, some single track, and a few sections of some loose rocks on top of dirt. Overall, the trail sections are not too technical. However, this area is known for its cactus, so you will need to watch out for it on both sides of your path.
All runners will have 4 hours to finish the race from the time you cross the starting line. That is an 18-minute mile - plenty of time for walkers! That means, if your wave begins at 6:15am, you will have until 10:15am to complete the race. If at anytime we deem it unsafe and need to pull a runner off the course we would hope for understanding and immediate cooperation. Failure to comply will result in being banned from future events.
Our course record holders receive a FREE RACE ENTRY every year that their time remains the course record! Because this is an inaugural race, course records are yours for the taking!
Bib & Packet Pickup
When you register, we'll ask you to indicate when you plan to pick up your bib. If you plans change, don’t worry about it. We only ask to help us plan in terms of numbers.
Your choices to pick up your packet are:
Option #1: Expo/Bib Pickup (recommended)
It's too early to say at this point, but whether it's an in-person expo or a drive-thru bib pickup, you will be able to pick up your bib between 10am and 5 pm on Friday, March 26th.
Option #2: Race Morning (not recommended)
We will provide limited race morning packet pickup. The race starts very early, so having to worry about getting your bib on race morning will only add unneeded stress to your life. But we know sometimes it just can't be avoided. If it can be avoided, please do not pick your packet up the morning of the race.
Bib pickup on race morning will be right next to the starting line. Be sure to pick up your as soon as you arrive at the start line. The first wave of the race starts promptly at 6:00 am.
Option #3: Shipped To You (US residents only)
There is a cost of $20 if you want to have your bib and shirt mailed to you. We do this as a convenience for runners not wanting to drive to Townsend early. This option is only available BEFORE the final price jump.
Refunds: Once your package is shipped, you are officially checked in to the race and no longer qualify for our refund, deferment, or transfer options.
Bring Your Own Bag
In our ongoing effort to eliminate waste during our events, our expos are bagless. We encourage you to #BYOBag to hold your bib, race shirt, and any goodies you pick up from the race expo! Since this year is a drive-thru bib pickup, you can keep everything in your car as you collect your race items.
If you're unhappy with the fit of your race shirt, or were unable to order the size you wanted, we will have a shirt exchange available at the finish line on race day. Please note that sizes and quantity will be limited.
We want to help you make the most out of your vacation. Below we will post links to some of our sponsors as well as general information.
There are lots of different ways to get to our host town Tucson, AZ, so we’ve listed some general directions for driving and flying.
The two main airports to look for flights into would be Tucson International Airport (TUS) and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX).
• Tucson International Airport (TUS): This is by far the closest airport and the most convenient. Tucson is serviced by most major airlines (Delta, American, Southwest, Alaska, etc.).
• Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX): This is the next closest airport at only about 1.5 hrs drive away from Tucson. Finding a good deal into Phoenix should be simple, but you will need to rent a car and make the drive down.
Additional Options: El Paso Airport is serviced by most of the major airlines and is only 4.5 hours from Tucson. Las Vegas is another option that will work for some. It's nearly 6 hours away, but depending on your post race activities, it may be a good option for you. Car rentals tend to be inexpensive in Las Vegas, but there are no real onsite rentals. You have to take a shuttle to the car rental center, and two shuttles if you rent from an off brand agency. Most major airlines fly into Las Vegas so finding a good deal should be simple.
From Phoenix: Take Interstate-10 south to Tucson (Approx. 1.5 hr drive).
From Las Vegas: Head south out of Las Vegas on Interstate-11 (which turns into thee 93 in Arizona) across the Hoover Dam! Get on Interstate-40/Hwy93 in Kingman and stay on it until Phoenix (Approx. 6 hr drive).
From Southern California: Depending how far north or south you are you will either head east on Interstate-10 East all the way to Phoenix and then south on I-10 to Tucson, or Interstate-8 East until it meets I-10 and then south to Tucson**.
From El Paso: Just hop on Interstate-10 and head west, young man (Approx. 4.5 hr drive).
**Once in Tucson, take I-10 to South Tucson, turn onto I-19 to Hwy 86, then turn onto Kinney Rd.
From Albuquerque: You will take Interstate-25 south into Arizona and then Interstate-10 west to Tucson. Once in town, you will want to take Hwy 86 to Kinney Rd.
There are many lodging options in and around Tucson. Plenty of hotels and vacation rentals. Camping is wonderful this time of year!
Visit Tucson is a great resource to find lodging and dining in the area. Check it out!
Additional Hotel Options
We've partnered with Booking.com to search for the best hotel options in the area. Check them out below!
Parking & Staging
We will have plenty of parking to accommodate all of our runners. Parking for the start/ finish for the half marathon will be located at Old Tucson.
*NOTE: The parking area will open at 4:30 am on Saturday morning.
We will share more information regarding runner drop-off, including a map as we get closer to the event.
4:30 am – Parking area opens & start line bib pickup begins
5:30 am – Pacers line up
5:45 am – Runners line up
5:55 am – National Anthem
6:00 am – RACE STARTS! New waves will begin the race as they arrive to the start lines on the shuttles.
6:18 am – Sunrise
6:30 am – Last wave begins race
If you’ve run any of the National Park half marathons, you’re probably familiar with our “club hikes” program. If runners complete these iconic hikes inside the National Park within 72 hours of finishing their race they can receive a medallion that resembles an official US NGS survey marker “benchmark”. We also have our “Trifecta” which earns you a small pin by doing a few less strenuous activities.
The “Explorer Club” is a new iteration of this. We want you to have as broad or as deep of an experience with Saguaro National Park and the surrounding area as possible. We have created a scavenger hunt made up of all kinds of adventures and experiences you can have here at Saguaro. Each item is worth a certain number of points (with opportunities to “level-up”). Earn enough points and you earn yourself the official Saguaro Explorer badge! This scavenger hunt has so many of our favorites in it, whether you have an afternoon or a week in Saguaro you should be able to plan an amazing itinerary with these suggestions.
-A minimum of 1,500 points (any more earned gets you bragging rights!)
-All items must be checked off during your trip to Saguaro for the Saguaro Half Marathon.
-Post your favorite photos on social media with the hashtags: #saguarohalf #saguaroexplorer
-Report your score within 72 hours of the end of the race (Wednesday morning) here.
-Enjoy these activities and the park responsibly - you are an explorer, not an obnoxious tourist!
Past Race Results & Photos
If you see that you placed, but didn't stick around for the awards ceremony, no worries! You can request to have your place medal shipped to you!
If you have questions about your placement or results, please email email@example.com.
Race photos are available the Friday following the week of the race. We will send out an email when they're posted to the album as well as place the link below. We offer race photos FREE to all our runners!
Award Ceremony Photos
Award ceremony photos are posted within a week of the race. You can find a link to the award ceremony photos below:
Share your experiences with us!
Be sure to use #SaguaroHalf in any photos you post from the race or your adventures exploring the park so we can share in the fun with you!
Exclusive Saguaro Half Marathon merchandise is available in our online store. (Coming soon)