Cocodona Race Report (short version) – Coach Des Clarke

Photo: Sally Wood

Want to read Des’s full race report? Find it here.

Race: Cocodona 250

Runner: Coach Des Clarke

Race Date: 05/01/2023

Location: Start – Black Canyon City, AZ Finish – Flagstaff, AZ

Results: 108 hours

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

  • The course. What an amazing adventure in some of the most beautiful areas of Arizona.
  • The community. I’m from Arizona and might be biased, but I loved interacting with the aid station volunteers, employees and fellow runners.
  • The organization. Aravaipa does an amazing job at all of their events.

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

There was one section across Fain Ranch that was the only part of the course I really disliked. But in a 250 mile race having a small section like that, which was required to get us to Mingus mountain, is a very minor thing.

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

Maybe the white couches at the Satisfy aid station? lol I just can’t seem to get over how strange that was to me.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

I paced myself well on the first day of the race, which gets a lot of people. I kept a positive mental attitude for the vast majority of the miles. I also almost got pulled by medical at mile 150 and made a comeback to finish the other 100 miles.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

  • Expect the first day to be very difficult and very slow. The first 37 miles took me over-double my best 50k time.
  • Take care of yourself. Feeling good is way more important than moving fast in this distance.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

  • I will never ever do a 200+ miler again. There is video proof of me saying this.
  • I do think that this is going to shift my mentality when it comes to 100 milers.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

It’s been said before, but people continue to underestimate that first 37 mile stretch. I would suggest doing the training run if you can. The most important thing you can do is get to Crown King still feeling good.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Beautiful. Gorgeous. Amazing.

Photo: Laura Mathis

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Yes, in a way that is sometimes difficult to describe. It’s slow going, and the temps during the race range from below freezing overnight to 95+ during the day.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

Aravaipa does an amazing job at all of their events. They plan well, and have been doing this long enough that when unexpected issues beyond their control come up they can deal with them without it impacting the runner experience.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

I feel like the field at this one continues to grow. This year both field had some well-known names, as well as some repeat competitors that are really getting the race down.

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.

Right now you can register up until right before the race, as the popularity of 200+ milers grows this may change. My crew managed to book a cheap motel same day during the race. Expect pricey rooms in Sedona and Flagstaff. Also plenty of options to camp. The first section is pretty remote up until mile 71, after that your crew will have plenty of easy access to civilization. The biggest logistic challenge is finding crew and pacers who can take time off work during the week to come support you.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

All the standard fare plus an amazing spread for all types of dietary needs. Breakfast burritos, burgers, tacos, etc.

Weather and typical race conditions

The race varies in elevation, so the weather is a real challenge. The weather during the day closer to Phoenix and through parts of Sedona can be in the 90s and 100s. Overnight at elevation it gets downright cold. Make sure you have a plan in place of when to switch gear and carry layers as needed.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?

I have never used poles before and I got them for this race. There is a required race gear list, follow it. They’re not kidding about the 4 liters of water for the first day, trust me you need it.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

After that first 71 miles there are plenty of access points. And the finish is amazing. Plus, they do an amazing job of live coverage during the race that includes mid and back of the packers.

How’s the Swag?

Really cool swag, including a nice backpack. The belt buckle is made in AZ with AZ copper and has a bunch of cool accents that call out different parts of the course.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

If you want to do a race of this distance I would 100% recommend this race.

Des Clarke is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.