Race: Cocodona 250
Runner: Coach Greg Ottinger
Race Date: 05/02/2022
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
I truly appreciated the challenge, the opportunity to see so many different areas of Arizona in a single effort, and the thoughtful organization of the race organizers (Aravaipa Running).
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
When you sign up for a challenge like this, you should expect and love the unexpected.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
Running 250 miles is beautifully weird.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
Some of the greatest joys of the race included the scenery (especially in Sedona) along with the highly crew accessible course. I had a crew/pacer combo of two and was able to see them very regularly throughout the experience.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
Arizona – warm, dry and high UV. With some area of the race are up above 7,000-9,000ft, and others much lower, the heat will feel differently depending on your altitude. Think carefully about clothing selection and sun protection (hands, neck, face, arms) as the lower elevation sections may feel a bit more like an oven than other areas.
Lessons for 200+ milers
- Either your fuel plan, hydration plan, gear plan, or lighting plan will likely fail, and hopefully only one of them, at least at a time. Have your backups ready and be sure your crew knows them.
- You are going to lose your mind at some point, to some degree – who is with you or who has your back to make sure you are on course? If you do not have a pacer late, consider running with another runner for safety.
- If the sun is up and you are leaving an aid station, make sure you have your night gear, as it is likely to be dark when you see aid again.
- It’s going to hurt – what is your strategy to see the pain coming, embrace it (or ignore it)?
- Sunburn in the day = healing at night. Healing at night = energy from your goal to keep moving at night. Plan accordingly.
- If you consume a ton of salt at an aid station (good!), don’t forget to ensure you have enough water to balance. 19 miles of salty thirsting can be a little less than fun.
- Have duct tape with you. You will be surprised at how and why you may need it.
- Try to eat real food – you really aren’t moving that fast (really). Take the time to throw down an avocado with chili powder (or your jam) and you set yourself up for soem strong nutrients.
- Know exactly where your essentials are stored in your vest. Try to make sure you know how to easily reach your food, water, chapstick, lube, turmeric (for me). Stopping to shuffle around and dig things out of unreachable pockets will cost you time and possibly allow the sleepy monster to attack while you are tinkering around with your pack. RUN!
- Sleep – I try not to, as much as possible. I also avoid sleep stations – as they are WAY too comfortable and suddenly the race is over and you are all snuggled up. Short naps along the way to clear the sleepy eye chemicals may just do the trick.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
The course was well marked, and with this distance, it is very important to also have the course downloaded to your phone and or other devices. You will want to be able to be your own “digital” confidence marker for peace of mind, especially as you may be slightly less mentally focused as you enter the 2nd, 3rd, night. Possibly.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
Cocodona is a wonderful and awesome challenge.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Aravaipa Running is a machine. The entire experience was coordinated and thoughtful, including some very tricky times leading up to the race related to wildfires.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
This race gathered some extremely accomplished ultra runners along with some of the finest through hikers (FKT’ers) in the country. However, despite the obvious competition, every runner was also out there to support each other, as it is really you vs 250 miles more than anything else.
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
Easy registration – plenty of room, no trail work, no pre-races (other than an expectation of using your own common sense). Hotels on either end are easy (though the NAU graduation does put a pinch on Flagstaff Hotels if it is the same weekend again).
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
Amazing, brilliant – extremely vegan friendly with hot and cold options. Truly – incredible options and people.
Weather and typical race conditions
Arizona in May. 🙂 Warm and dry overall, although we did get down to 25 degrees and snow one night.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?
Sun protection and a good sense for adventure and fun.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
Very crew and spectator accessible the entire way. There are at least 17 crew accessible aid stations along the way (total of 20-21).
How’s the Swag?
Gorgeous copper buckle (locally sourced) that pays respect to the different Arizona towns you cross, sweet long sleeve (Hooded?!?) shirt, local coffee beans, and a high quality backpack. Very strong swag game.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
Greg Ottinger is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coaching page.