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Event Series Event Series: Xterra Trail Run World Series

XTERRA Black Canyon Trail Run 2024

March 17, 2025

trail runners at XTERRA Black Canyon Trail Run
Last Updated March 25, 2024 – Note: 2025 event date and details are not yet confirmed

The XTERRA Black Canyon Trail Run in Rock Springs, Arizona, stands as an exhilarating stop in the XTERRA run series, promising an adventure-filled experience for trail running aficionados. This event is unique not just for its challenging course, filled with climbing, river crossings, sandy beaches, and endless single-track trails, but also for its vibrant, celebratory atmosphere, perfectly capped off with a delightful after-race party at the famous Rock Springs Café, home to some of the most delicious pies you could ever hope to taste. Organized by Shendo Cat Racing, the event is also part of the Arizona Trail Series and for those with a competitive edge, the race is also a qualifying event for the XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in Maine, as part of the 2024 XTERRA Trail Run World Series. Strambecco rates the event as one of the best trail events in the Southwest.

Event & Course Info

Participants can choose from a variety of race options including a 42k out and back, a 21k point-to-point half marathon, a 10k lollipop run, or a 6k looping fun run, ensuring there’s something for every level of runner.

42K Trail Marathon: This is the ultimate challenge, starting at 6:30am from Rock Springs Cafe. The route is an out and back course that turns around at Table Mesa Rd, ensuring participants get a full view of the breathtaking scenery. The terrain is varied and challenging, with a total of eight aid stations to provide support along the way. Age group awards will be given to the top three in each category, making it a great option for competitive runners.

21K Trail Half Marathon: Starting at 7:15am from Table Mesa Trailhead (shuttles provided), this point-to-point half marathon offers a scenic route that follows the Black Canyon Trail to Black Canyon City, finishing at Rock Springs Cafe. With four aid stations and a recommendation for runners to carry additional water, this race ensures participants are well-supported. The route promises stunning desert mountain views, water crossings, and the chance to experience the wildflowers in full bloom.

10K Lollipop Run & 6K Looping Fun Run: These options provide a shorter, yet still challenging run with all the scenic views and adventure of the longer routes.

In addition to the race itself, participants can look forward to the series awards ceremony, a chance to relax by the creek, and of course, indulging in some delicious pie. Shuttles will be provided to transport runners to the start line for the half marathon, and there will be coffee, music, and a fire at the half marathon start for those taking the early shuttles.

Area Accommodations & Things to Do

There is no official host hotel for the event but there are many options due to its proximity to metro Phoenix. Two options include the Hampton Inn or Creekside Lodge & Cabins. There are also plenty of vacation rentals both near Black Canyon City. Another great option is to camp at Bumble Bee Ranch which can provide prepared meals on site, making it very convenient for racers. Camping is also permitted in specific areas of Prescott National Forest and on BLM land.

The culinary scene of this area features a blend of diverse flavors and eateries, offering a mix of local Southwestern cuisine, traditional American dishes, and international options, all set against the backdrop of a charming suburban setting. With a range of restaurants, cafes, and grills, residents and visitors can enjoy a taste of both local and global delights. Local favorites include Two Brothers, Chilleen’s, and Beni’s Pizza.

The area just north of Phoenix is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts – with mild winter temperatures and clear skies, this suburban community becomes a magnet for those eager to immerse themselves in nature. Towering over Anthem, AZ, Daisy Mountain is a beacon for hikers. In March, the moderate temperatures make the ascent more comfortable than in the hotter months, and the wildflowers are in bloom blooms, adding splashes of color to the landscape. The hike to the summit offers around 7 miles round-trip with an elevation gain of approximately 2,000 feet. As you reach the peak, you’re rewarded with panoramic views of Anthem, the Phoenix metro area, and beyond.

Cyclists of the group will enjoy biking the Maricopa Trail which connects multiple parks and preserves across Maricopa County, and offers bikers a unique blend of terrain and ecosystems. One of the most popular stretches is the segment linking Anthem to the Cave Creek Regional Park – a 20-mile (round-trip) ride that winds through diverse landscapes. The Maricopa Trail is well-maintained and is suited for mountain bikers of various skill levels. Along the way, you might encounter saguaro cacti, blooming desert flora, and even some desert critters.

Runners looking for a cool down can check out Anthem’s East Trail System which is a favorite among local trail runners. With its varied terrain and captivating desert views, it provides a wonderful juxtaposition of challenge and scenery. The system offers over 10 miles of interconnecting trails that range in difficulty from easy to moderate. Each trail is well-marked, allowing runners to choose their distance and level of challenge. Whether you opt for the shorter 2-mile loop or decide to combine trails for a longer run, the system accommodates all preferences.

Related Events

The XTERRA Black Canyon Trail Run is part of the XTERRA Arizona Trail Run Series, a 6 event series with distances ranging from 5k-43k. All events take place within Maricopa County and are within an hour’s drive from central Phoenix and also includes the McDowell Mountain Trail Run. All 6 XTERRA Arizona Trail Run events have qualifying marathon and half-marathon slots for the 2024 XTERRA Trail Run World Series Championship. The XTERRA Trail Run World Series includes both half-marathon (15-34km) and full-marathon (35km+) races, with individual and team (duo) categories available.

The XTERRA Trail Run World Series is an inclusive series that invites all trail enthusiasts to join the XTERRA community as you connect, explore, and discover new and existing trails in idyllic running terrain worldwide. Designed to mix community and adventure, the series is open to all runners, from amateur to elite, individuals, and pairs, with over 30 races in 20+ countries across Europe, the Americas, and the Asia-Pacific region. Strambecco profiles several of the US events, including the McDowell Mountain Trail RunXterra Black Canyon Trail, Xterra Oak MountainXterra New Jersey, and the Xterra Trail Running World Championship. Compete individually, regionally, or globally in the XTERRA Trail Run rankings, or push to the front of the pack in your age group to qualify for a place on the starting line at the annual and invite-only XTERRA Trail Run World Championship.

Outside of the XTERRA Black Canyon Trail Run, trail runners in Arizona have their pick at a multitude of top shelf events in-state, including Old Pueblo Endurance Runs and Black Canyon Ultras from Aravaipa Running which is a Western States 100 qualifier.

For the multi-sport athletes out there, check out some of our best rated Road CyclingGravel Cycling, and Mountain Biking events that are held in Arizona and the broader Southwest. Some of them include the El Tour Series road cycling events – El Tour de ZonaMesaTucson, and the infamous gravel race Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR) Scottsdale from Monuments of Cycling which is part of its Quadrupel Crown of Gravel SeriesEpic Rides is a top producer of mountain bike events in Arizona including the Tour of the White Mountains,  The Whiskey Off Road, and 24 Hours of Old Pueblo.

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