The Sedona Marathon started and concluded on Saturday, Feb. 4, bringing more than 3,000 runners to the city. The official registration was 3,591 while total number of actual runners was roughly 3,090 after about 500 were unable to make it.

While several hundred runners were from Sedona and other communities in the Verde Valley, the bulk were visitors from elsewhere around the country and the world.

The marathoners did not exist in a bubble exclusive to the race. Most stayed in local hotels, dined in local restaurants the day before and/or day after. Many brought friends or family who did not race but came to cheer them on, meaning several thousand more visitors were in Sedona over the weekend. All those extra people means tax revenue for the city, benefiting our roads, public services and future capital projects.

The marathon takes place during one of the economically slow parts of the year, benefiting businesses after the slow and quiet December and January.

I want to thank the team at Guidance Air for offering us the opportunity to shoot photos of this year’s marathon from the sky.

Sedona Chamber of Commerce Public Relations Manager Kegn Moorcroft and Guidance Air Sedona base manager Jamaica Bergstrom had offered our staff a seat in the helicopter.

With sports reporter Daniel Hargis and photojournalist Jordan Reece covering the race from the media vehicle, provided by Pink Jeep, and Hunt Mercier shooting the runners at the start/finish line, the flight fell to the third-string photographer — me — to take.

Guidance Air lead pilot Chris Tatum and videographer Steve Hollingsworth took Moorcroft and me into the air a few minutes before the first race began. Tatum flew us in several orbits over the crowd, catching the start of the full marathon, half marathon and 10K before heading out over the race to follow the lead marathoners as they headed down Dry Creek and Boynton Pass roads.

It was great to have so many runners wave at us as we passed over. We flew back to catch the first 10K runners as they crossed the finish line.

Meanwhile, Reece and Hargis headed down the course alongside the runners, capturing the race as well as the residents who staffed the aid stations along the route, often in themed costumes.
Mercier captured some of the crazy and fun interactions near the start/finish line, including the T-Rex chasing runners that appears on today’s front page.

We will be posting many of these great photos, as well as my aerial shots, on our website and Facebook pages. Please tag yourself and share them with your friends on social media.

We hope that even if marathoners didn’t beat their personal bests in Sedona that they at least had a great time and will hopefully return for future marathons or as tourists in the months and years to come.

Returning visitors generate millions of tax dollars every year and spread the word about all there is to see and do in Sedona. Most returning visitors also try new things every time they come: A new restaurant, a new arts event, a new tour experience or hike on a new trail, meaning local businesses benefit over the long term even if they saw no noticeable uptick in revenue this weekend.

We sincerely thank all the local vendors who helped runners enjoy their stay and all the residents who cheered on the marathoners or aided them along the run. It is these events that make Sedona not just a great place to visit but a great place to live.