The Cocodona 250 is an endurance run that begins in Black Canyon City, Arizona and traverses a continuous 250 mile point-to-point route through Crown King, Prescott, Jerome, and Sedona, before arriving at the finish line in Flagstaff.
It is one of the most diverse 200-mile races on the calendar and promises “a life changing epic adventure.” The 2023 event was the third running of the race. Below is a selection of photos from Howie Stern, Anastasia Wilde, and Scott Rokis, who spent five days on the course, documenting the trials and tribulations of the intrepid runners brave enough to toe the start line.
Race morning rituals are as varied as the runners who take on the 250-mile challenge that is Cocodona. Some chat with friends and family as they go over last minute details. Some are fired up with anticipation. Others, such as Kate Lindell, look to the calming effects of prayer.Howie Stern
A point to point, 250-mile endurance run is embedded with many things, the most prominent is variety. While the runners all start together, by the third mile, 75 minutes separate first and last. Pacing that seems efficient turns into a one mile per hour pain cave and then surprisingly back to nine-minute miles. Here at mile three, community is as abundant as the optimistic smiles.Scott Rokis
The crux offers no mercy. The opening 33 miles with 100 percent sun exposure and 10,000 feet of climbing will expose your race craft. In a 250, there is time to recover, but your feet still need to carry through that 25-mile, midday crux. Pictured here, Mike McKnight, takes a moment of rest after a grueling climb which left him 35 miles out of the lead. Miraculously, he recovers on day two and eventually pushes through to win in 69 hours, 41 minutes, and 31 seconds.Anastasia Wilde
The section of trail into Sedona is as expansive as it is beautiful. With blooming wildflowers, lush green ocotillo and red dirt under foot there were constant remarks from the runners about how this felt so otherworldly. David Stinchfield is all smiles as he pushes on into the bustling town of Sedona… 157 miles down, 93 miles to go.Anastasia Wilde
Water is a gift in the desert, so when you come across Oak Creek near Sedona during the heat of the day, most runners take full advantage of the chance to submerge and cool off before the long climb up Casner. Due to higher water, there was a rope to help runners cross the creek safely. Those who were crossing at night weren’t quite as excited to be cooled off!Howie Stern
For some, even as the race director shouted, “3-2-1-Go!” they haven’t come to terms with the fear of hitting that Oak Creek crossing. Here, Andrea Moore nearly went all in, but a rope held taught by her pacer and a fellow runner, Andrew Marvin, kept her clothes dry as she begins the climb out of Casner Canyon at mile 170.Anastasia Wilde
What does running 250 miles look like? It’s difficult to comprehend until you live it yourself. Pictured here is a runner moving through Granite Dells during blue hour. The scale of the runner set amongst the boulders provides context of just a couple hundred yards. Now, gauge this against the distance between some major U.S. cities:
- Phoenix to the Grand Canyon is 225 miles.
- New York City to D.C. is 230 miles.
- Reno to San Francisco is 220 miles.
- Nashville to Atlanta is 250 miles.
Mindy Coolman and pacer Jodi Semonell enjoying a cool evening sunset on the way into the Sedona area, roughly 150 miles into the race. Runner and pacer roles were reversed this year as Mindy paced Jodi at last year’s edition of the race.Howie Stern
As the second night begins, 165 miles remain. The spread between first and last place is over 100 miles. The sunset is out of view of our runner, but its effects are not. With 200 athletes over 250 miles, your night movements will likely be solo.Scott Rokis
Do they sleep? The modern era of the U.S. 200s has moved into its second decade this year. As runners have evolved their gear, their preparation, and their crews, so too have the aid station volunteers. This year’s Fain Ranch Aid Station sponsor, Satisfy, brought luxury to the desert with an athlete recovery lounge replete with comfortable couches, plants, a gourmet chef, and a custom drink—Floda, aka Flat Soda.Anastasia Wilde
Dawn Greenwalt is surrounded by her crew moments after crossing the finish line. The comradery, love, and support shared amongst the runners, crews, family and friends is a large part of the magic of Cocodona, and the ultrarunning community in general.Howie Stern
For Rachel Bambrick, her smile says it all! She shows what it looks like when the dream of being a Cocodona finisher comes true.Howie Stern