It’s October in Tucson, Arizona, and runners are breathing a little easier—literally.
After the summer’s monsoons, humidity and high heat, things get downright delightful now for runners, not to mention hikers and cyclists. Fall mornings and evenings are cool, perfect for working out, and the days are sunny and warm.
“Our weather is predictable, and people like that,” says Anne Stancil, owner of two Fleet Feet stores in Tucson. “You can be outside all year. Our winter is beautiful.”
Elite athletes come to Tucson to train all winter. Jobs also draw people, including defense contract work at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, a nearby Army intelligence center and related industries. Active retirees are attracted to the area because they can run and hike year-round.
And then they fall in love.
“I’m still in awe sometimes of the desert, how beautiful it is,” says Stancil. “It’s incredibly peaceful. You watch the desert change through the year, from lush and green with cactus flowers blooming to dry.”
Runners of all abilities appreciate various terrains easily accessible from downtown Tucson, from flat paths along river beds to easier trails in the desert to technical mountain trails.
Emily Maass grew up in Tucson and started running in high school. She talked with us by phone as she was relocating to western North Carolina. Maass will miss the city’s “super friendly” running community and how her wardrobe wasn’t much more than a T-shirt and running shorts year-round.
“You can see so much more running In the desert,” says Maass. Rather than climbing through woods to finally get a view from a peak, in Tucson, “the whole run is your destination. You can enjoy it the whole time.”
Maass’ top three Tucson-area runs: