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Big-time race with small-town feel a great Boston qualifier
YUMA, ARIZONA – Marathoners looking for their place in the sun need look no further than the third annual Yuma Territorial Marathon and Half Marathon, set for January 28, 2012. With a relatively straight course that shows less than 75 feet in elevation change, this "wicked fast" race is a great qualifier for Boston.
And since the race takes place in what Guinness World Records has certified as the sunniest place in the world, a bright day is likely – and a warm welcome guaranteed.
"We want to make this a big-time race with a small-town feel," said Dr. Bob Brown, one of the organizers. "And of course, great weather and a course that will help you run a personal best."
This will be the third year for the Yuma races, which are organized by the Caballeros de Yuma, a civic organization that's well known throughout the region for staging outstanding events.
The 26.2 mile course has been certified with USA Track and Field as a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon and features computerized chip timing for quick and accurate results. The race starts and finishes at Cocopah Casino, with host hotel Cocopah Resort and Conference Center located steps away for the convenience of runners -- and their cheering sections.
From the Cocopah Indian Reservation, the course passes through the small farming towns of Somerton and Gadsden and into the border city of San Luis, where runners turn around and retrace the same route north. The course takes in both classic Southwestern desert vistas and the lush agricultural fields that make this the nation's lettuce and winter vegetable capital.
Temperatures (all Fahrenheit) at the race start time of 7 a.m. are typically in the upper 40s and rise to around 70 by noon. For January 28, the average low and high are 46 and 71 and the records are 31 and 84. As the sun rises, visibility may be up to ten miles in the crisp desert air.
The 2011 men's marathon winner, Dan Kuch, finished in 2:38:31; the women's winner, Emily Berg, ran a 3:35:38. Winning times for the half marathon were 1:23:35 for Kyle Smith and 1:44:26 for Tami Jo Harmon.
"This course really allows for a fast time," Brown said. "Because it's pretty flat and there aren't many turns, runners can just get in the groove and go."
The first Territorial Marathon in 2010 year brought nearly 200 runners to the area, and the 2011 edition drew even more – but not the throngs that swarm start lines in large cities. And that's just fine with race organizers.
"Of course, we want this event to grow and be successful, but we're not necessarily aiming for thousands," Brown said. "We want to make it the best race ever for the people who are here."
The Caballeros de Yuma, Inc., is a nonprofit organization that has been welcoming visitors and sponsoring special events in the Yuma area since 1962. Its Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival (Nov. 18-20, 2011) and Midnight at the Oasis classic car show (March 2-4, 2012) are among Yuma's premiere annual events. For more information, call 928-343-1715, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.caballeros.org.
Yuma Visitors Bureau markets the Yuma area within the travel and tourism industry and to the general public. The nonprofit is funded in part by City of Yuma hospitality tax revenues. Direct travel spending in Yuma County totaled more than $577 million in 2009 and supported nearly 6,000 jobs. Travel spending in the county also generated more than $36 million in state and local taxes.
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