Oh, PF Chang’s Half Marathon…

**WARNING: Runner rant up ahead.**

So I just saw the new course unveiled for the 2012 Pf Chang’s Half Marathon here in Phoenix. Personally, having run the course six times during its near-decade tenure and I have to say, I didn’t think the course could get any worse.

But, it did.

Half marathon course is marked in blue

Rather than starting the half-marathon in downtown Phoenix a few streets up from the full marathon start, they’ve now moved the course to downtown Tempe. From there, rather than criss-crossing through Phoenix and under freeways like the previous course (literal GAG; very gross), now you get to run to McClintock Drive on Rio Salado (yawn) run through Papago Park back into downtown Tempe to finish at ASU.

Okay, maybe I’m not giving the new course a good enough shake. Maybe I need to remember the desert hills the course passes by; the lack of miles-long straightaways that plagued the previous course and the logistical nightmare of getting bused to downtown on time. But, wasn’t that all part of the fun?

I ran cross country races in the Tempe area in high school and then went to Arizona State University. I’ve run many, many miles around this area of town. Endless sidewalks, sketchy subjects at times and super urban. Granted, I never liked the smoggy setting between downtown and Tempe on the previous route, but I loved starting the PF Chang’s race in the downtown Phoenix area. Let’s face it, Phoenix might not be as splashy as some other downtowns, but it’s what we have and it’s still pretty cool.

Starting and finishing in Tempe doesn’t give someone a proper glimpse of the Valley; you still only see the shady, icky stuff. AND might I note, that while this course is further east, it feels WAY too similar to the Arizona Women’s Half Marathon (don’t even get me started on that course).

Anyway, rants aside, I know that running a half-marathon is still a huge accomplishment and regardless of if you like the course or not, it’s still a feat that few will ever attempt. Kudos to those who decide to give PF Chang’s a whirl this year.

(And, if you want my opinion, skip PF Changs’ crazy huge crowds, hold off a month, save money AND get a better view by running the Lost Dutchman Half Marathon. You won’t regret it!!)



  1. Yes, the course for the half is not their best effort. They took the worst part of the old course from the full (I’ve run it twice) and pawned it off on the people doing the half. That section on University, McClintock, and Hayden is uuuuuuugly. However, the finish is improved. I like the 1.5-2 mile stretch where the half and the full run side-by-side over Mill Ave and Tempe Town Lake. They typically stagger the half and the full, so it is conceivable that the winners for both races could be running next to each other in that last stretch. I hope they do that.

    While the half course will be hard for them to defend, the full is a VERY improved course.
    -Starting in downtown Phoenix – great
    -Adding stretches where people can see other people in the full and half – very good
    -Eliminating Hayden (as mentioned above) – excellent


    1. Can’t agree with you more on improving the full. I know half marathons tend to be better-attended than fulls, but the full should still be the shiny ball among the two courses. I think you’re right about eliminating the icky stretch at the end. Thanks for your thoughts, M!

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