RUNAWAYS: Flagstaff

Elevate Your Runcation To 6,909 FT

A small mountain town in the U.S. state of Arizona, surrounded by mountains, desert and ponderosa pine forests. It's a gateway to the San Francisco Peaks, home to Arizona's tallest mountain - Humphreys Peak. Runner's come en masses to Flagstaff for the elevation gain and easy access to lower elevation in Sedona. They train through Flagstaff's bipolar weather on the endless FUTS trails. Here are some of the must-see and must-do places as a runner visiting town, picked by our Team Saucony Flagstaff experts.




The Flagstaff Urban Trail System (FUTS, say "foots") is a city-wide network of non-motorized, shared-used pathways that are used by bicyclists, walkers, hikers, runners, and other users for both recreation and transportation. At present there are just over 50 miles of FUTS trails in Flagstaff.

BUFFALO PARK (Average Elv. 7,168 FT)

A 2-mile urban trail loop, an expansive open space on the flat top of McMillan Mesa, an ancient lava flow.

MCMILLAN MESA TRAIL (Average Elv. 7,039 FT)

Starts on west edge of McMillan Mesa, travels east-west across open grasslands and ends at Sunset Trail to Arizona Trail.


Begins in Thorpe Park and makes a steady climb westward through a draw on the east slope of Mars Hill. Portions of this climb are very steep.

A-1 MOUNTAIN ROAD (Average Elv. 8,301 FT)

THE Sunday long run spot. Some weeks dozens of run clubs will meet here to put in some quality dirt road miles.


Northern Arizona University (NAU) is a public university located in the heart of Flagstaff, AZ. The Lumberjacks compete in NCAA Division I and are members of the Big Sky Conference. Bad weather? No problem with the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome indoor multi-purpose stadium just down the road.

<b>Tip 1</b>Every runner can benefit from hurdle drills. They will increase flexibility, range of motion, and core strength.<b>Tip 2</b>Enjoy the process! The best part of starting out is the improvement that you'll experience day to day. Savor the small victories. -Chelse Sodaro<b>Tip 3</b> Stick with it! Running is hard and uncomfortable for everyone when you're just starting out but you have to stick with it and get through the uncomfortable phase. be patient and reflect on the day. -Nate Brannen<b>Tip 4</b>Spike up and stride it out! The Endorphin continues to be the lightest distance spike in the market today! Men (9): 2.8 oz Women (8): 2.5 oz


"I run to see how great I can be. I have always had this innate feeling that I can do something special in this sport. I want to see how fast my body is capable of running.

I look up to the people who support my dreams and make sacrifices for my running. I'm living my dream everyday -- my husband and my family are the one's who sacrifice so that I'm able to do this."


"What keeps me going today is unchanged from that which got me going 18 years ago - a hunger for competition. In my mind, running offers the most raw and intense form of competition, and is the only sport that comes close to satisfying this appetite on a regular basis. Like every runner, my daily dose usually comes in the form of internal competition, being challenged to overcome the relentless internal stop-signals brought about by the day's training sessions. The satisfaction of defeating oneself provides more than enough stimulation to keep me coming back for more. But it's the days I get to toe the line alongside 11 other ‘hungry’ humans, when both internal and external competition are at their most extreme, that I get my true fix.

For as long as I can remember I have idolized Rod Dixon. Being a young track runner in Nelson meant I was exposed to the tales of the great Dixon on a frequent basis. The storytellers weren’t just senior club members either. It seemed that every Nelsonian that happened to be present during his heyday had some epic tale to tell, whether it be of his 1500m final at the 1972 Olympics or how fast he ran up the Takaka hill (a local monster of a hill). He remains the source of enormous pride for our little town and continues to be the inspiration for all who take on his old running routes. Rod continues to be one of the greatest ambassadors of the sport. A few years ago he established the Rod Dixon’s KiDSMARATHON Foundation - a foundation focused on "educating, empowering and inspiring" kids through the medium of exercise. As a seasoned athlete, I find it is this, his passion to help better the lives of others, that is most inspirational. 


"I truly enjoying running and competing and am very fortunate to be able to do what I love on a daily basis. My love for the sport is what keeps me going.

Dear Newbie Runner, Running is hard and uncomfortable for everyone when you're just starting out but you have to stick with it and get through that uncomforablte phase. When I come back from time off after a season, running is hard and sucks sometimes but it's about pushing through that hard part until everything clicks. As your fitness increases, your runs also start getting easier and much more enjoyable."


"It sounds cliché, but I think the honest answer that most runners will give you is that I’m trying to see how far and fast I can push myself. I want to walk away from the sport knowing that I did everything I could possibly do to get the most out of myself.

I look up to a lot of people! My parents obviously for their love, how well they raised us, and their hard work throughout my life. For a specific runner, I’d say Dave McNeill. He ran for NAU while I was in high school so I always looked up to him because of what a great athlete and competitor he was. But when I met him I actually now look up to him because of his great mental attitude. He’s the humblest, most perseverant guy I know."


"I run because I have been given a gift and I want to maximize it. I keep going because I promised myself I would at least run through the 2016 Olympic Trials after having missed the 2012 Trials due to a foot injury.

Dear Newbie Runner, Enjoy the process, make it fun. Head to your local run specialty store and find a local running group to join it for weekly runs. You’ll meet people from areas of life you never would have expected."


An Arizona desert town 30 miles south of Flagstaff. Surrounded by red-rock buttes, steep canyon wall and pine forests. It's noted for its mile climate and vibrant arts community. Athletes will drive down here to train at an average of -2,000 ft.


Notable for its scenic views as you descend down Oak Creek Canyon and drive through Slide Rock State Park. Bring you’re camera!


This narrow winding, unpaved road (read: rocky, bumpy trail) winds along the side of one of Sedona’s enormous rock faces.


Part of the Sedona-Oak Creek Unified School District. The Scorpins have a beautiful track that’s surrounded by red rocks.


A Roman Catholic chapel built into the buttes of Sedona.


An eclectic mix of small town charm and the simplicity of the great outdoors. This town comes alive with culture, natural beauty, and history. Here are some must do's:

1. FLAGSTAFF TRAIN STATION (1 Historic Route 66)

The station, formerly an Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway depot, doubles as a visitor center and is located in the midst of downtown Flagstaff. If you get stuck behind one of these trains you’ll be waiting 10 + minutes. 

2. RUN FLAGSTAFF (204 Historic Route 66)

The only run specialty shop in Flagstaff, tirelessly devoted to giving back to the running community with passionate, knowledgable staff.

3. LOWELL OBSERVATORY (1400 W Mars Hill Road)

An astronomical observatory where the warf planet Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh.

4. DIABLO BURGER (120 N Leroux Street #112)

Known for using local ingredients & English muffins as buns in a modern, casual space. Be sure to order the special sauce!


A cozy pick for espresso drinks & a breakfast-to-dinner veggie menu with vegan & gluten-free options. If you like mochas, order the double Macy’s Special! You won’t be disappointed.


This southwestern U.S. state is best known for its reliably sunny weather and as home to the Grand Canyon, the mile-deep chasm carved by the Colorado River. Many visitors utilize Flagstaff, a Ponderosa Pine-covered mountain town, as a gateway to the Grand Canyon. Other natural features include the saguaro cactus-filled Sonoran Desert and the rugged formations of Red Rock State Park.

1. HUMPHERY'S PEAK (11 miles N)

The station, formerly an Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway depot, doubles as a visitor center and is located in the midst of downtown Flagstaff. If you get stuck behind one of these trains you’ll be waiting 10 + minutes. 


United States’ 15th oldest national park. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, the park is located in northwestern Arizona. 

3. 89 NORTH

While driving on 89 north to Horsehoe Bend and Antelope Canyon pull over and explore the endless desert roads.

4. HORSESHOE BEND (130 miles N)

A horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River located near the town of Page, Arizona, in the United States.

5. ANTELOPE CANYON (133 miles N)

A slot canyon in the American Southwest. It is located on Navajo land east of Page, Arizona.

Photos by: Jason Suarez