Craft Classic Phoenix Race Recap

"Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Craft Classic Phoenix as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!"

The Craft Classic-Phoenix half-marathon was my "comeback" race to the running scene. It was full of hops and high-fives. They even found a way to make hills... FUN!


The Craft Classic-Phoenix takes place in Fountain Hills, and is put on by Road Runner Sports. RRSports even had some fun "social runs" throughout the year that I attended. Was a great way to meet other people who would be running, enter for fun prizes, and even get a preview of the race course (AND FREE BEER!)

If you have a chance, I definitely recommend attending one of the free Craft Classic social runs in your area when available.

The post-race hops were provided by Huss Brewing, one of my favorite local brewers. So this race already had a lot going for it! :-)

I haven't raced since February, been nursing an injury. So I was a little nervous to get back into "the running scene". But also anxious. My November Project Phoenix crew were all running this one together, some even tackling their first half-marathon! So I decided to represent BibRave and make the Craft Classic my comeback!

I trained with my November Project Phoenix friends, and we knew the course would be a bit hilly, so we made sure to work in some hill work. Not to mention hitting the stairs every Wednesday really helped. But by training with my NP friends, it really helped take my mind off of the "comeback" and just focus on having fun with running again.

Above all, the absolute BEST thing about this race is the fact that it's not a PR race. I know...I know.. all runners these days seem to look for the flattest, fastest course. But the Craft Classic atmosphere isn't about running a Personal Best. It's about running with friends and having FUN. Really helps put running back into perspective for me. That every race doesn't have to be about beating the clock.

However, if you ARE wanting some competition, the first overall male and female of the half-marathon win their weight in beer! Yup. Beer! And age division winners all receive some really awesome pint glasses.


Let's start with packet pickup. There was NO race day packet pickup (fine in my book), so you had to swing by Road Runner Sports on either Thursday or Friday. They made picking up a packet for a friend pretty easy, in case you needed to go that route. Packet Pickup was at Road Runner Sports, and while small for a race expo, the swag was pretty dang sweet!

An awesome shirt (cotton tee for guys, tank for the ladies), a Huss Brewing glass, some knock around sunglasses, and the icing on the cake was the BIB! You know, I have to say that the Craft Classic has to be the first race I've ever ran that made the BIB exciting and fun. 

As mentioned, the race takes place in Fountain Hills, about a 30 minute drive from my place in Tempe, AZ. So not too far. I left early on race day morning, expecting to have to drive around to find parking, to find the start/finish, etc. But to my surprise, it was extremely easy to find. In fact, the race-week email Craft Classic sent out had specific google map links to all the parking locations available. As well as a link to the half and 5k start lines. Very convenient.

I was able to park right next to the start/finish line and race-day expo. I was pleasantly surprised not just by the parking, but the amount of port potties. NO LINES AT THE BATHROOMS! There was as short line about 10 minutes before the race, but I found yet another small set of porta potties with no lines. So needless to say, the race had pretty much eliminated all of my normal race-day obstacles.

The weather was pretty perfect. High 60's by the start, and high 70s, low 80s by the finish. I love these out and back courses too. Don't have to worry about transportation from the finish. And I didn't have to use the gear check that was available because I was so close to the start/finish.

Despite this being my first race in 8 months, I wanted to shoot for under 2 hours. So I started with the 1:55 pace group. My November Project Phx friends also had an aide station at around the 1-1.5 mile mark and was really great to see them early on. Kept my spirits high and smiling... or at least.. smiling until I hit THE HILL.

The Craft Classic Phoenix was able to make hills FUN (to a degree). They created the "King of the Mountain Climb"competition. Adidas would give a free pair of shoes to the fastest and slowest runner up this massive hill. A 1.5 mile climb to be exact.

Nevertheless, that climb was brutal. It hits from mile 4.5 to mile 6. After that, you aren't in the clear yet. There are rolling hills throughout after this major climb. But at least they're not quite as extreme. Because of these hills, I recommend bringing your own water. Just a handheld will do. There were TONS of aid stations on the course. However, it did start to get a little warm and after each hill I just wanted more water, and would have been perfect had I just brought a handheld for a sip here and there in between each station.

There was Nuun and water at each aide station. And surprisingly every single cup I got was cold! I'm used to warm water/electrolytes halfway through a race but each time they were ice cold and it was soooo awesome. I actually took Nuun and didn't take any water. Just to keep my electrolytes up. And because I'm a huge Nuun fan. ;-)

I powered through the hills, and gave it my all. The last few miles my legs were screaming from the hills but I was now determined to get under 2 hours. So I pushed and pushed and made it right around the 1:57 mark. YES!

The medal was fun and unique. Looks just like a paddle from a beer tap handle, and of course, is a bottle opener.

Plenty of water, more Nuun, and snacks at the finish line. We had some runners doing their first half marathon so we formed the signature November Project "tunnel of love" and had them run through as they came to the finish. Really was a great time for the whole NP family.

Afterwards, we all hit the Beer Garden. One free beer per runner, but you could purchase more. A great way to end a fantastic, fun event.

Lastly, only a few days after we received our FREE RACE PHOTOS! How sweet is that?! Really a wonderful addition to top it all off. It might look like I'm walking, but I promise I was running. :-P

All in all I would highly recommend the Craft Classic Phoenix to anyone. Whether you want to run the 5k, make it your first half-marathon, or even just to go out and have FUN! I never had to worry about a single thing during this race and I honestly can't wait to run it again.

Craft Classic really re-ignited my love for running and I'm excited for the new adventures ahead!

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