After reading LOTS of papers and articles on high altitude training, I decided to adapt the "sleep high, train low" model. My old stomping grounds of Flagstaff, Arizona is one of the uniquely ideal places in the U.S. set up to use this approach. It sits at over 7,000 feet yet it is an easy hour drive to get to Camp Verde, Arizona at approximately 3,000 feet. I would be able to taper/train there and since I used to work at Northern Arizona University, an old colleague (Roy St. Laurent) and I would be able to get a heavy dose of research done on a stat paper we've been working on. Perfect!
Here is a terse summary of some of the places I was able to visit just in case anyone happens to be in the area and wants a little taste of adventure. I am indebted to Jason Henrie's blog for motivating the first two runs. When running in the desert in the summer, get an early start, take some S-Caps along, and bring plenty of water! If you are by yourself, as I was, tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. Let me preface this by saying none of the runs were particularly hilly. If anyone has any questions about these runs or wants more details, then don't hesitate to email me at
Run #1 Towel Creek Trail
This trail is about 14 miles southeast of Camp Verde. I would say a downside of the trail is that it is quite rocky in sections rendering moderate sections of the trail unrunnable.
|View of the Towel Creek drainage from above the trailhead.|
|Poised and ready!|
Run #2 Lime Kiln Trail
Wow! This was one gem of a run and I highly recommend it to any serious trail runner. Running from Dead Horse State Park (near Cottonwood) for about 15 miles northeast towards Sedona, this trail is the quintessential southwest high-desert trail run with lots of runnable red rock, sweeping plains, and scenic vistas. It was built only a few years ago. Run this trail but do pay attention to the cairns.
|As good a desert trail run as it gets.|
Sycamore Canyon Wilderness has always been my favorite chunk of real estate in Arizona. Parsons Trail drops you into the heart of the canyon and sends you north along a rare desert riparian zone fed by springs.
|Sycamore Canyon Wilderness.|
|One among several springs you will encounter along the trail.|
Run #4 Monument Valley
One of the most impressive areas I have seen in recent memory, Monument Valley sits along the Utah/Arizona border on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Huge spires of red sandstone reach towards the heavens and you can see for miles in any direction. It is easy to see why many old western movies were filmed here.
|The Twin Mittens of Monument Valley.|
|The vastness of Monument Valley.|
Run #5 Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
This is a pair of gems located about 20 miles north of Flagstaff. There is a scenic
blacktop road that runs for 35 miles in a loop one can take in either direction that connects both monuments. In the northern Wupatki section, one can walk among Indian pueblo ruins from the 1100's, see out into the Painted Desert for miles or see the Vermillion Cliffs, and watch the monsoon storm clouds build over the San Francisco Peaks. Check out the awesome visitor's center near the Wupatki Pueblo; the pottery was amazing.