Feeling inspired by the Olympics? Yep no denying us too!
But with so many medals at these Games what did Team GB do to get the edge?? With year round sunshine and one of the most diverse terrains on earth, our athletes flocked to the US state of Arizona to perfect their game for Rio de Janeiro and the 2016 Olympic Games.
The “Road to Rio” ran through Flagstaff, located at 2,106 metres above sea level in northern Arizona. In total, 202 athletes representing 30 countries in the 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games have trained in the area in the preparation for the biggest sporting event on Earth. Those that trained here include the UK’s finest distance runners – Tom Farrell, Andrew Buchart and Gold medalist Mo Farah who all took advantage of the altitude to perfect their endurance.
In 2013, Greg Rutherford, 2012 medal winner, relocated to the state capital, Phoenix, to take advantage of the heat and sunshine, optimising the length of his training.
The natural terrain of desert, plunging canyons, rivers, vast forest and barren deserts combine with dry heat make it the ideal training ground for almost every sport, from running to rowing.
Often described as ‘California without the crowds’, athletes took advantage of perfect training conditions and focused in peace, far from the pressure of the world’s paparazzi.
It’s not just for Olympians, travellers to the State can still enjoy the great outdoors and boost their fitness level in the Grand Canyon State.
Here are our top three ways to achieve an Olympic level adrenaline rush in Arizona…
1. Running events
Arizona has a plethora of running events throughout the year in a variety of locations and elevations so that runners of all levels can choose from a number of courses which include stunning settings, unexpected routes and challenging programmes that really strengthen one’s capabilities. For a more unusual course check out the Rock n’ Roll Marathon taking place in Arizona from January 14th – 15th 2017. Entertainment at each mile and the energy of a festival weekend ensures a fun run! For the adrenaline junkies out there, experience the stairs of Bisbee, otherwise known as ‘the 5K that feels like a 10k’ and on January 28th 2017, when the weather in the UK is blistery, escape to the Southwestern city of Yuma and join in on the annual Yuma Territorial Marathon.
2. The Birthplace of desert style golf
Golf was reintroduced for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games for the first time since 1904. Scottsdale, just outside the state capital of Phoenix, is the original birthplace of desert style golf courses where golfers can tee up on world-class golf courses set in breath-taking locations. Located in 1,300 acres of the Sonoran Desert foothills with panoramic views of 12-million-year-old boulder formations, The Boulders Golf Club has one of the most dramatic settings on Earth.
The award- winning, two 18-hole Jay Morrish-designed courses stretch across an enchanting desert landscape and are listed among the finest in the United States. The surrounding terrain and plant life have been left virtually untouched, allowing indigenous flora and fauna to thrive. There is also full-service pro shops, PGA and LPGA-certified instructors and cart and equipment rentals. For a different backdrop entirely, Seven Canyons golf course at the luxurious Enchantment Resort is spectacular. Standing at the doorway of the Boynton Canyon, this secluded championship course is surrounded by a majestic red rock backdrop at an elevation of 4,600 feet. Known for its classic design, this highly acclaimed 18-hole course boasts natural water features, mature trees and small greens all adding to the magnificent scenery.
3. Build on your endurance by hiking the Grand Canyon
As well as being an iconic natural attraction, the Grand Canyon is also a hiker’s paradise. There are numerous hiking trails for thrill seekers to explore from four hours to four days and all set against one of the world’s most dramatic backdrops. The most popular hike is the 19 mile Bright Angel Trail which starts at Grand Canyon Village at the south rim. The two-day trip (one day down, one day back) takes hikers through the lush green strip of Garden Creek before reaching the Inner Gorge, including a challenging set of switchbacks known as the Devil’s Corkscrew. The last section involves crossing the slender, see-through Bright Angel Suspension Bridge, which also provides the quickest route to Phantom Ranch and the end of the trail. For an Instagram-worthy hike, where filter free images can be taken, Havasupai Falls on the Havasupai Indian Reservation is not to be missed. This remote canyon oasis is best known for the sapphire blue waterfalls that attract visitors from around the world. Arizona Outback Adventures offer a variety of hikes from three to six days led by their expert guides. Be warned the hike is 10 miles in and back!
We’re sold and if you are too then visit www.visitarizona.com for more information.