North America

Phoenix-Tempe, AZ

Phoenix, America’s sunniest metropolis and the cosmopolitan heart of Arizona, basks in sunshine all year long. With gorgeous red rocks, blue skies and bright sun-rays, the dry weather makes this a great area to run. A “must do” in Phoenix is to plan a run amid the rocks during sunrise or sunset, to enjoy the spectacular light. Also, desert wildflowers in spring or just after a rain can be a special treat.

Phoenix is one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. It is spread out and auto-centric. Running options in the heart of downtown are not great. The best options are in North Phoenix: Murphy’s Bridle Path, and the canal trails.If you have the option, we’d recommend staying in downtown Tempe rather than downtown Phoenix. It’s the same distance from the airport as downtown Phoenix, and has some great running options right downtown, including the Town Lake trail, and proximity to the Desert Botanical Garden and Papago Park. Nearby Scottsdale has a beautiful greenbelt popular with runners, and access to the Camelback Mountain area. Also, Phoenix and Tempe are now connected by a terrific light rail system, which runs downtown to downtown every 20 minutes or so and only takes 20 minutes.

The running experience in Phoenix is not complete without doing some of the off-road mountain trails. The Camelback area is among the easiest to access and most popular.

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  • All Routes
  • Iconic Routes
  • Weather & Climate
  • Where To Stay
  • Stores & Group Runs
  • Events

Papago Park

Phoenix-Tempe, AZ

A hilly desert park covering 1500 acres in Phoenix and Tempe. Numerous trail and loop options include several interesting sights: Hole in the Rock, the Desert Botanical Garden, several small lakes, and the Phoenix Zoo.
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Papago Park

Phoenix-Tempe, AZ

A hilly desert park covering 1500 acres in Phoenix and Tempe. Numerous trail and loop options include several interesting sights: Hole in the Rock, the Desert Botanical Garden, several small lakes, and the Phoenix Zoo.
Explore This Route

Phoenix is in the desert. Which means it can be brutally hot. In summer, temps reach 120F and don’t even dip below 80F at night, so hydrating and wearing sun block are critically important. The weather’s great from November-April, but desert mornings can be chilly. Some running groups go early in the morning in summer. Topographically, the city itself is flat but is surrounded by mountains, affording some amazing trail running opportunities.

STAY

Phoenix has no shortage of hotels and most travelers stay in Central Phoenix (aka Downtown), Scottsdale or Tempe to stay close to the action. We recommend staying in downtown Tempe rather than downtown Phoenix for more interesting and easily accessible running options.

Central Phoenix — Downtown

Bordered by Thomas Road on the north, Buckeye Road to the south and bookended by Seventh and 19th streets, downtown is Phoenix‘s historic and cultural hub, with 19th-century Historic Heritage Square at its center. Here you are close to restaurants, shops and museums. Mass transit links downtown with Sky Harbor International Airport,Scottsdale and Tempe.

Scottsdale

Twenty- five minutes northwest of downtown Phoenix, Scottsdale is where to stay in Phoenix if you’re looking to rub shoulders with the well-heeled. Old Town Scottsdale has bustling cafés by day and a buzzing night life. Try staying within some proximity of the Greenbelt for good running options. Also the Phoenician and JW Marriott Scottsdale are at the foot of Camelback Mtn.

Tempe

Laid-back Tempe, 25 minutes southwest of downtown Phoenix and below Scottsdale, is easily accessible from downtown Phoenix via the Valley Metro Light Rail. There are great running options accessible from downtown Tempe: the lake trail, Papago Park, and the southern end of the Scottsdale greenbelt.

Running Stores/Group Runs

Runner’s Den
As Arizona’s original running specialist, Runner’s Den has been a pillar of the Arizona running community since its doors opened in 1978. Votedne of America’s “Top Ten” running stores. Group runs: Wednesday at 6pm (a scenic out-and-back along the Arizona Canal and through the Biltmore), Saturday morning at 6am, and every other Thursday at 6pm for a trail run starting at Dreamy Draw Park.

Sole Sports Running Zone
With 3 stores in the Phoenix area, owned by professional triathlete Lance Muzlay. Group runs:
Glendale: Wednesday 6:30pm/Saturday 6:00am summer/7:00am winter.
Scottsdale: Tuesday & Thursday 6:30pm/Saturday 6:00am/7:00am winter.
Tempe: Monday & Thursday 6:30pm/Saturday 6:00am/7:00am winter.

iRun Running Store
Full service running, walking, and hiking shop located in the beautiful Arcadia near Scottsdale. Reviewed as the best running store in Phoenix, especially for trail running. Group runs: 5 mile group runs Thursday at 5:30pm (Happy Hour 5 Mile Run) and Saturday at 6:00am.

Other group runs

Aravaipa Running
A very popular running group (read-large turnout) with numerous events and weekly group runs. Dedicated to creating a vibrant community centered around being outdoors.

Meet Me Downtown
Meet Me Downtown (MMDT) connects people of all ages to downtown Phoenix for a weekly social walk/run.

Arizona Road Racers
With over 1200 members, Arizona Road Racers (ARR) is the largest and oldest running club in Arizona and is one of the largest of such clubs in the USA. They are well organized, do races all year long, and host fun and affordable events.

 

Events

Due to the extreme heat in the summer, most running events in Phoenix are held fall through spring.

Hot Chocolate (yes, really) December. 5K, 15K
Held in Scottsdale, this race is a chocolate lovers dream — marshmallow sweet stations dotted along the course with a fondue station at the end, not to mention a Finishers Mug filled with goodies.

Midnight Madness December 31st. 5K
End one year and begin another with this New Year’s Eve 5K. Fun, festivities and sparkling cider toasted at midnight.

Rock N’ Roll Arizona January. 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon.
This course is flat and fast with epic views of the valley of the sun, including Papago Park and Tempe town lake. Participants will enjoy live bands, cheer teams, spirited water stations and other entertainment along the course.

Runner’s Den Pancake RunFebruary. 5K, 10K 15K
Limited to only 2,000 runners, this 5K, 10K or “Double Stack” 15K race is sponsored by IHOP with a complimentary pancake breakfast. Originally staged in 1979 to showcase the talents of marathon legend Bill Rodgers and the opening of Paradise Valley Mall, the event remains a Valley classic.

Pat’s Run April 4.2 miles
Pat’s Run is the signature fundraising event of the Pat Tillman Foundation, held to commemorate the day Pat lost his life in Afghanistan serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment, Pat’s Run is a 4.2 Mile Run/Walk that winds through the streets of Tempe to Sun Devil Stadium, ending at the 42-yard line of Frank Kush Field, symbolic of the #42 jersey Pat wore as an ASU Sun Devil.