Overall Rating
Overall Rating (12 Reviews)
2.7
(12 Ratings)  (12 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.8
SCENERY
2.4
PRODUCTION
2.9
SWAG
2.5
The Tucson Marathon Events have been run annually since 1995, growing from 800 participants to over 4000 throughout that period. Our races have proven to be favorites for local runners as well as visitors, with 48 states and 5 foreign countries being represented last year. A little more than half … MORE
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Recent reviews

    runmilespetdogs FIRST-TIMER '21

    I ran this race because it was local and logistically easy for me to plan. Despite all that it has going for it (including sleeping in my own bed the … MORE

    I ran this race because it was local and logistically easy for me to plan. Despite all that it has going for it (including sleeping in my own bed the night before), I wouldn’t run this race again or recommend it to others.
    – Tucson is a beautiful place, but this race is nowhere near the city of Tucson. It’s the Oracle marathon and most of the race is run along the shoulder of Oracle Rd. The initial sunrise is pretty, but the remainder is a dull, straight line.
    – The marathon is marketed as a downhill race, but be aware that the course is definitely rolling. I thankfully had the opportunity to preview the course on long runs and was not surprised, but I can see this coming as a shock to out of towners. The hills are not insignificant.
    – The race website had a bright red banner reading “RACE CANCELLED” and all information was for the 2020 race up until race day in 2021. There was little contact with the runners prior to race day. Instructions were limited and the disorganization showed the morning of the race.
    – The expo is tiny and way out in Oracle. Definitely not worth the drive – race day packet pickup seems like a good idea for a race this small.
    – The women’s marathon t-shirt was very, very ugly.
    – Marathon parking moved to a new location for the 2021 race. This was a poor choice. The lot was not marked or directed by volunteers, nobody had any idea where to park or go for the buses, and the walk to the buses was dark and uneven.
    – More importantly, it took me over an hour to get back to my car after finishing the marathon. It took 30+ minutes of waiting for the bus to fill enough to go, then another 30 minutes of driving before I was even at my car. I then had an hour long drive back into town. Not great for recovery.
    – No Gu along the course, in contradiction to what the map showed. Water stops were understaffed and they weren’t prepared with water cups as we were running by. I missed several because I didn’t want to stop and wait in the middle of a race.
    – Very little community spectatorship because there is no parking allowed along most of Oracle.
    – Here’s the big one: the race measured .25 mi long for the half and .5 mi long for the full. The race course did not match the USATF certified course map. Ask any runner that was there that day and they will confirm the issue. This led to a lot of missed qualifying times and frustration. While I understand that mistakes happen, the radio silence from the organizers was unacceptable and deeply upsetting. All emails on the subjects received a non-committal “we’re looking into it” response. 6 months later and I still haven’t seen any acknowledgement or response.

    The good: Very friendly volunteers, the Tucson running community is fabulous, the weather is generally reasonable (on the hot side in 2021), and the race is small enough that there are no corrals, battles for port-a-potties, etc.

    All that said, I would not recommend this race to anyone, including locals.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    1
    SCENERY
    1
    SWAG
    1

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    shelnaz FIRST-TIMER '21

    The course was long and on uneven surface (pot holes on shoulder of highway with traffic the whole time) Busses/shuttles completely disorganized Arrived at start 2 hours early, pitch black, … MORE

    The course was long and on uneven surface (pot holes on shoulder of highway with traffic the whole time)
    Busses/shuttles completely disorganized
    Arrived at start 2 hours early, pitch black, zero lights at portapotties
    50K runners had to force their way through the half marathoners waiting to start – they were furious, justifiably so
    Terrible. Never again. Don’t waste your money

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    1
    SCENERY
    1
    SWAG
    1

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    DisneyRunner FIRST-TIMER '21

    I was surprised at how tough this race was. I went in expecting a personal best, but the downhill killed my legs and ankles and ended up walking most of … MORE

    I was surprised at how tough this race was. I went in expecting a personal best, but the downhill killed my legs and ankles and ended up walking most of the last 6 miles. Scenery was not that great. The race was held outside of Tucson along the shoulder of a highway with cars driving by the entire time. The number of aid stations was decent, and I appreciated that several of them had ice for the hot day. The expo was tiny, but the volunteers and staff were friendly. It’s not a race I would do again, but it is good enough to check it off my list of states.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    2
    SWAG
    2

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    enigma20 FIRST-TIMER '21

    The draw of this race is the downhill course. Don't assume that it will be easy. I've done a couple other downhill marathons and flat courses are easier. There were … MORE

    The draw of this race is the downhill course. Don’t assume that it will be easy. I’ve done a couple other downhill marathons and flat courses are easier. There were a few miles where it was a steep downhill and went right into a climb. My legs were in bad shape by mile 20.
    Good points
    Shirt was a little plain, but good quality and attractive
    Medal was one of my favorites so far
    There seemed to be plenty of water stops (not sure about gu)
    Post race goodies were decent
    Packet pickup was easy
    A lot of the course was scenic
    Not so good
    Course was long (26.6 on my watch). Everyone else agreed
    Runner pickup location changed within the last 2 weeks
    Finish was over a mile from parking (had shuttles, but not obvious where/how to catch one)
    Age winners received a plastic piece that went on back of medal (the medal was too nice for that)
    Not the organizers fault, but temp was in the 70s by the end and full sun most of the way
    Might be a dry heat, but it’s still hot

    Not my favorite race, but I really enjoyed Tucson and the surrounding area. I think there are some things that can definitely be improved.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    4
    My Media

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    akgreynolds FIRST-TIMER '21

    I've done the relay, the half marathon, and paced the half marathon in the past, and this race always has organizational issues. This year was the worst though - marathon … MORE

    I’ve done the relay, the half marathon, and paced the half marathon in the past, and this race always has organizational issues. This year was the worst though – marathon was 26.7 miles long and half was 13.35. If you’re wanting to run a BQ or any qualifier, DO NOT use this race. It’s very expensive to begin with, the amenities are never good, and they can’t even get the course marked correctly. I dropped at 20 because there was no way to make up the time to BQ. The website said they would have GU at the aid stations, but they did not. By the way, this marathon is NOT in Tucson. Not even close.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    1
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3

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    262run REPEAT RUNNER '18

    This race had over 500 feet elevation gain, but overall is was very drab. For a large part of the race your running along the shoulder of the road which … MORE

    This race had over 500 feet elevation gain, but overall is was very drab. For a large part of the race your running along the shoulder of the road which isn’t the greatest. The organization of the race was fine, and shirt is as good as any other race shirt, the medal is fantastic, the host hotel was wonderful, the post-race snacks were lacking, and the spectators were minimal. Doing this race once was cool (since I grew up in the area), but I don’t see myself coming back. I read that they will be changing the course this year, so I am a bit curious what it will be like. If I read amazing things, maybe I’ll find myself back there in 2020.
    FULL REVIEW ON THE BLOG https://262.run/2019/04/16/tucson-marathon-december-2018/

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    My Report
    SCENERY
    1
    SWAG
    4

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    groundhogcat FIRST-TIMER '18

    Aid stations and volunteers were great, but the scenery was really boring if you can believe it. For much of the race the runners were only separated from traffic by … MORE

    Aid stations and volunteers were great, but the scenery was really boring if you can believe it. For much of the race the runners were only separated from traffic by traffic cones. The downhill was not that great. On the upside the hill was very tiny. I laughed when I reached the top.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    2
    SWAG
    2

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    M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '15

    BOTTOM LINE: I ran thru the desert on a course all the same... If you’re a focused downhill runner seeking that elusive Boston Qualifier, then dry desert air and barren … MORE

    BOTTOM LINE: I ran thru the desert on a course all the same…

    If you’re a focused downhill runner seeking that elusive Boston Qualifier, then dry desert air and barren scenery aside, Tucson may be your ideal marathon. But if you’re like me and much more comfortable going up (or staying flat) than coming down, you may want to think twice before committing to this race. And if you’re looking for a late-season BQ-friendly course that’s significantly easier on the quads, I’d recommend the California International Marathon which happens to fall on the same weekend as Tucson.

    Beware too the artificially smooth course elevation profile on the race website, which omits many of the smaller rolling hills that will drain the life incrementally from your legs.

    On the other hand, mile 23 hill aside, Tucson is much more intriguing as a speedy half marathon, where quads be damned you can throw caution to the wind and use the first 9+ miles of downhill to your PR’ing advantage. For those considering the 13.1 distance, I’d suggest you check out @dansolera‘s excellent post on his own Tucson Half experience here: https://dans-marathon.com/2010/12/18/state-eight-arizona-damascus-bakeries-tucson-half-marathon-2/

    And if you’re looking for race weekend lodging, look no further than the first-class host hotel. The Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort offers reasonable rates and quiet, comfortable rooms, with the added convenience that the pre-race expo is held in one of the hotel conference rooms.

    PRODUCTION: Race Director Pam Reed ensured that everything about marathon weekend operated like a well-oiled machine. Speaking of which, any event that uses buses to transport runners to the start – and does so with nary a glitch – earns extra points on my scorecard. This is no Rock ‘n’ Roll event, and that’s a good thing – the course lacked spectators and entertainment for the most part, while oncoming traffic provided the only consistent white noise along with the occasional waft of exhaust fumes. The expo was quick to navigate and had a small-town feel, including a wild-haired Doc Brown-looking fellow peddling “Magic Stuff” ointment at the corner booth. And the post-race spread, which included local sponsor Damascus Bakeries’ flatbread roll-ups, seemed sufficient to satisfy any but the most epicurean finisher’s palate.

    SWAG: The official 2015 Tucson race shirt is an attractive (albeit bright) royal blue short-sleeve tech tee, while the finisher’s medal is a small and cartoonishly rendered red cactus that, if I were to learn had been designed by the local 3rd grade class, I’d think was really cool. Instead, it strikes me as more afterthought than thoughtfully considered keepsake.

    For more downhill desert details, check out my blog report at: https://blisterscrampsheaves.com/2016/02/04/tucson-marathon-race-report/

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3
    My Media

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    usamhall Oct 05, 2021 at 12:18pm

    Hey, Mike, I am thinking of doing this one b/c I need AZ in 2021. I maybe able to do 4 Corners if it happens. Your thoughts are appreciated. Thanks,…

    Hey, Mike, I am thinking of doing this one b/c I need AZ in 2021. I maybe able to do 4 Corners if it happens. Your thoughts are appreciated. Thanks, Michale

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    M_Sohaskey Oct 06, 2021 at 2:35am

    Hey Michael! Looks like Four Corners is currently a go, so hopefully that happens for you... but if not, Tucson is a worthy alternative and especially in this its golden… MORE

    Hey Michael! Looks like Four Corners is currently a go, so hopefully that happens for you... but if not, Tucson is a worthy alternative and especially in this its golden anniversary (i.e. 50th year). Since I first ran Tucson in 2015, I've come to realize that the scenery for most AZ marathons is dominated by largely unchanging, sparse desert landscapes, and Tucson is no exception. Running on the shoulder of the highway, too, is suboptimal, though fortunately safety is never an issue. That said, the start-line sunrise in Oracle is stunning, the downhill course (though not necessarily easy) can work to your advantage if you train your quads properly, and the event has a new co-owner who's passionate and motivated to improve it in any way possible, which is good news. All in all, I'd give Tucson 2021 a more enthusiastic endorsement than I gave Tucson 2015. Happy to answer any other questions, and good luck notching AZ this year! 👊 LESS

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    slsadler FIRST-TIMER '15

    Don't be misled by the elevation chart for this race. The downhills will beat you up. Also, it starts at about 5,500 feet so unless you live at higher elevations … MORE

    Don’t be misled by the elevation chart for this race. The downhills will beat you up. Also, it starts at about 5,500 feet so unless you live at higher elevations it will take a toll on you as well. The hill at Biosphere starting at mile 10 is fairly brutal, then you end with a big but short hill at mile 23. Overall good course and nice small race but definitely far from easy.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3

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    Marinaw262 FIRST-TIMER '14

    This race is known as being a downhill course, and good to PR/BQ. I chose this race mainly because I wanted to visit the town, as I had some friends … MORE

    This race is known as being a downhill course, and good to PR/BQ. I chose this race mainly because I wanted to visit the town, as I had some friends here and had never visited it, and college towns are always fun with good food and drinks 🙂 The course was not of paramount concern to me, and I probably should have checked into it more, as the main thing to see for the majority of the run was cacti, or homes. The colors of the dessert are pretty, but over the span of 26.2 miles they can get boring. Finish line was nothing spectacular. Bottom line, a good race if you want to run fast for the major net downhill, but don’t plan to really enjoy much along the way.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3

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    Donnald69 FIRST-TIMER '70

    The expo was so small, that I could not even get in the door. It was a small room with several tables set up, and only 2-3 people could be … MORE

    The expo was so small, that I could not even get in the door. It was a small room with several tables set up, and only 2-3 people could be let in.
    The course started early in the morning, where runners were bused. The first 2-3 miles were down an extremely steep hill, and then leveled out. The course itself was actually somewhat enjoyable, minus the first couple of miles. The shirt was a white poorly printed cotton shirt. Mine was so tiny, I asked for a larger shirt, which I was told I got what I ordered. I ended up leaving it behind. After the race, I wrote to the organizer and explained to her my issues with the shirt, and she promised to send my a larger one. I wrote her 3 times, and all 3 times she made the same promise over a 30 day period. Each time she acted as though she had never spoken to me before. I never did get a shirt, which was not a big deal, it was white cotton with a black iron on. The cheapest running shirt I had ever seen, even at this time.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    1
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    1

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    nazgul0306 FIRST-TIMER '98

    Well run, but still arrive early to get the bus to starting line Wear tights or warmups while you wait for the start; there are buses that store your gear … MORE

    Well run, but still arrive early to get the bus to starting line
    Wear tights or warmups while you wait for the start; there are buses that store your gear bag that you can retrieve after the race
    Some snacks available at finish.
    Downhill for the last 5k; uphill for the last 400-600m.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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