P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona courses get facelift going into ninth year
Courtesy of Jeff Metcalfe – Sept. 28, 2011
The Arizona Republic
[Editors Note: The January 15th P.F Chang’s Rock n’ Roll Arizona bumps onto the light rail corridor numerous places. LightRaiConnect.com is a strong supporter of the race!]
The P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon and 1/2 Marathon is getting a course face-lift going into its ninth running Jan. 15.
The start line for the 13.1-mile half marathon is being moved to downtown Tempe with the course to include a downhill section in Papago Park. The 26.2-mile marathon start will remain in downtown Phoenix but shift from the State Capitol area to CityScape, with other changes in the second half of the course. The races will overlap on opposite sides of Mill Avenue Bridge in Tempe and Rio Salado Parkway to finishes near Sun Devil Stadium.
“The half-marathon route and (transportation) buses have been our biggest complaints,” said Alan Culpepper, a two-time Olympian and 2004 Olympic Marathon Trials champion who designed the course changes for the Competitor Group. “We’ve changed both of those.
“It’s been one of our marquee events, and it’s time for the course to live up to how great the Valley is. We made the half (marathon) more convenient for the runners with a nicer, more-scenic route.”
Runners will be able to take the light rail to and from the start/finish lines, depending where they park or are housed if visiting the Valley, likely eliminating the need for the bus transportation that was required in the past. Race organizers still are working out details on the light rail.
Scottsdale hotels run shuttles to downtown Tempe, where the light rail is available for marathoners.
“We needed to refresh the experience,” said Scott Dickey, Competitor Group president. “The half (marathon) needed to be the focus, and it’s much more runner and spectator friendly on a loop course.”
Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona had a record 28,555 finishers in 2009 with 22,111 of those in the half marathon. Finisher numbers were down to 24,460 this year.
“We want to get back to our historic high,” Dickey said of what has ranked as the world’s largest combined marathon and half marathon.
The half marathon will start at Third Street and Mill, then run east on University Drive and north on McClintock Drive. Runners then turn west on McDowell Road and run through the SkySong Center before going north on Scottsdale Road to Thomas. They turn south off Thomas onto 64th Street, which becomes Galvin Parkway going into Papago Park.
Marathoners ran north going uphill through Papago Park when Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona debuted in 2004 before that course was changed in ’05.
Much of the marathon course remains the same for the first 11 miles. The half marathon course previously began in downtown Phoenix.
The Competitor Group has expanded the Rock ‘n’ Roll series to 27 races, including four outside the United States.
“We’re at our peak,” Dickey said. “Now we’ll add more to each race weekend.”
This includes perhaps a 5K race