2024 The Saguaro Half Marathon in Tucson, AZ


A cactus in the Saguaro Half Marathon course.

In order to appreciate the Saguaro Half Marathon, one must appreciate the terrain of the country. The United States is home to some of the most iconic natural landscapes on the planet. On the East coast you’ll find acres of auburn trees in Vermont, skyscrapers that stretch a mile into the sky in Manhattan, and white sandy beaches adorned with palm trees in Florida. 

Recommended Running Experience: The Rogue Expeditions Running Vacations in Morocco, Italy & Ireland

On the West coast, you’ll traverse past thousand-year old redwoods in Northern California, and all the way to the South, you’ll explore the cacti-lined sands of the Mojave Desert.

One of America’s most picturesque deserts is in southern Arizona just outside of Tucson: the Sonoran Desert

If you’re a fan of Westerns, you’ll recognize this area from your favorite gunslinger films.  The Sonoran Desert is home to the Old Tucson Studios – the filming location for Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Three Amigos! and El Dorado

Here’s why we love the Saguaro Half Marathon and have it on the top of our list of half marathons to run in 2023.

  • Date: Saturday, February 24, 2024
  • Price: $139+
  • Registration

The Saguaro Half Marathon Course

The Beginning

Starting near Old Tucson, your first mile is on the pavement of Kinney Rd before reaching the McCain Loop, a 3.5-mile loop surrounded by the Saguaro forest and desert plants.

The Middle

The course then transitions to the Golden Gate Trail, a 2-mile steady, gentle climb of lush desert brush. During the first half of the race, runners will encounter the largest elevation change with 300’ of ascent between mile 2 and 6. By mile 7, runners will find their way to Ringtail/Cougar Trail as they traverse to the second half of the race.

The Finish

Miles 6 through the finish of the race have minimal altitude changes, with mile 10 through 13.1 bringing a welcome 100’ of decline. For the finish, you’ll turn back onto South Kinney Road pavement before crossing the finish line into Old Tucson Movie Studio. 

The organizer indicates this race is a 4 out of 5 difficulty. So, while we wouldn’t recommend this as your first-ever half marathon, the race offers an exciting challenge for more experienced runners.

You can find an interactive video with distance-marked imagery of the course here.

You can watch the official race trailer here.

Course Road and Trail

Running on uneven terrain takes practice, and many runners don’t live with access to trails to practice on. The half marathon includes three different terrains: pavement, technical trails, and single-track trails. You’ll be on pavement for half the race and technical trails for the other half. Expect loose rock and uneven ground on the trail sections. If you can’t access trails for training, be cautious with loose rock and wear proper footwear.

Saguaro Half Marathon Time Limit

4 hours to finish the race, or 18-minutes per mile. Plenty of time for walkers!

The Race Organizer

We love that Vacation Races is a zero-waste event producer. You can check out all their beautiful destination races here.

Race Fees

$139 and up for the half marathon

Saguaro Half Marathon Registration

To reserve your spot in the 2024 running, register online here.


Half Marathon Images

An image of runners on the pavement portion of the Saguaro Half Marathon. Two Seguaro Half Marathon finishers with their medals. A runner enjoying the desert landscape on the Saguaro Half Marathon course. Runners along the Saguaro Half Marathon course. The iconic desert landscape in the background.


Frequently Asked Questions

What time does the Saguaro Half Marathon start?

The start time is 7:00 AM MST.

Where does the Saguaro Half Marathon take place?

In Old Tucson, AZ

What is the closest airport to the Saguaro Half Marathon?

30 minutes from the Tucson International Airport (TUC) and 2-hours from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX).

What is the time limit for the Saguaro Half Marathon?

4 hours.

Does the Saguaro Half Marathon take place in the Sonoran Desert?

Yes. The race runs through the desert and is adjacent to Saguaro National Park.

Is the Saguaro Half Marathon a trail race?

Technically, yes. But half of the race takes place on pavement.

Half Marathons

To find more half marathons like this one. You can check out the National Park Half Marathon List or the Calendar of Arizona Half Marathons.

This content was produced in partnership with Vacation Races, producer of the Saguaro Half Marathon.

2 comments… add one
  • Shari K January 6, 2024, 7:58 am

    I see many people suggest trail shoes as the trail portion is quite technical. I am not usually a trail runner. I need comfortable shoes for road running, and have tried on many trail shoes that just done feel comfortable enough for 7 miles of road. I expect to do a lot of walking on the trails, so am hoping trail shoes aren’t completely necessary. Will I be ok without trail shoes?

  • Margaret Keene October 18, 2023, 8:12 pm

    Will there be a 5k option? I need a goal as I am recovering from a leg/ankle/foot injury

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