50th Annual Saguaro National Park Labor Day 8-Miler & 5k Walk/Run

Monday, September 7, 2020
Race Info
Course Info
Race Info

July 1, 2020 Update: 2020 Event Postponed Until 2021

Due to ongoing safety concerns and policies related to the coronavirus pandemic, the Southern Arizona Roadrunners unfortunately has to postpone the Saguaro Labor Day Run until September, 2021.

While we would like to continue the 50 year tradition of an annual Saguaro Labor Day running race, this year it will not be possible. Laying aside our own concern about public safety, we have been working with the multiple permitting agencies to ensure that we can do the race.  We have even put forth a proposal for a virtual event, utilizing the National Park over a period of time with no event festivities.

Unfortunately, we cannot do the event.

At this writing, Pima County has not agreed to a permit -- but more importantly, the National Park Service is not in a position to permit the event, writing, "The landscape of Saguaro National Park is open including our trails and roads but we are not in a place where we can host a special event, even if it is virtual.  We do not have any public programs, our visitor centers and outreach programs remain closed, even our restrooms only have limited hours. So, we are going to decline the virtual Labor Day Run and look forward to the 2021 event." 

Thus, while we at SAR would like nothing more than to meet with all of our running friends and community partners to celebrate the beautiful regional landscape, unfortunately we are going to have to postpone the 50th Annual Saguaro Labor Day Run until Labor Day 2021.

What does this mean for you? First, registration for Saguaro has been closed so we are no longer accepting new registrations.

Second, if you have already registered, you have a few choices:

1) SAR can keep all current registrants on the registration roster, and simply defer your registration until the 2021 event so that you are guaranteed entry into what will undoubtedly be a popular 50th anniversary run on Labor Day Monday, 2021. If you would like to defer, you do not have to do anything. We'll simply keep you on the list!

2) If you would like your registration fee back, we can provide a race fee refund.  By September 1st, please email the SAR race director Randy Accetta at randy@runtucson.net and he will manage the return of your funds.

If you have specific questions about these events, please contact me directly.

Thank you,

Randy Accetta, SAR Race Director



June 14, 2020 Update:  We are working with the multiple agencies that provide permits for the event.  As of this writing, Arizona is seeing a surge in the coronavirus and a corresponding stress on the healthcare system.  Accordingly, the Saguaro Labor Day Run has not been granted a permit for the Labor Day event.  

We are hopeful that we will be able to permit the event, but even if we do, we do not expect to be able to run the race the way it has taken place for the past 49 years.  In a best-case scenario, the race will be run in waves and the course will be unsupported, with no volunteer-managed water stations and no spectators allowed.  In a worst-case scenario we may simply have to cancel the event.  We will know more in the coming weeks and we'll keep the SAR running community informed.  Questions? Contact longtime race director Randy Accetta at randy@runtucson.net.



Race Day is Monday, September 7, 2020  - registration now open!

Join us as we celebrate the 50th birthday of this iconic Tucson event in 2020 -- our paved 8 mile loop will challenge you as you race among the rolling hills of the Saguaro Cactus Forest in the foothills of the Rincon Mountains.  The 5k Fun Run and Walk is an easier out-and-back, with the same gorgeous scenery  Old-timers will remember when this race was the Saguaro National Monument Run, and we're proud to be part of the National Park Service, an American treasure celebrating its 104th anniversary this year.  

We offer special thanks to our friends at Saguaro for allowing us to be one of the few races produced on National Park lands.  Park Ranger Steve Bolyard and Saguaro Chief Ranger Ray O’Neill have all provided above-and-beyond support for this race over the years.

Saguaro National Park EAST, 3693 S. Old Spanish Trail Rd

5:15-6:00 AM Packet pick-up at Saguaro Park EAST: You can pick up your shirts and numbers at the SAR tents in the main parking lot near the Visitor’s Center. There is no race day registration, only number/shirt pick-up. 

Parking: There is no parking at the National Park -- please park safely on neighboring roads, following all signage and all Pima County traffic laws.  Do not block neighborhood driveways, do not park in the street, do not put other people in jeopardy.  Please car pool if at all possible.  Thank you. 
5:45 am Early start line-up time for 8-mile walkers and walk/runners. If you anticipate spending longer than 2 hours on the course, please start early. Note, early starters are not eligible for awards or Grand Prix points, except for age-groups 65+. It will be hot on race morning, so please make the safe choice.
6:15 8-milers can begin to line up at flagpole, 5k behind the 8-milers. In both races, please line up in order of your expected racing pace: 5-minutes/mile at the front; 6-minutes/mile behind them, and so forth.
6:15 A few words from the National Park Service
6:25 8-Mile Run start
6:30 5k Walk/run start

Post-race Refreshments: water, Gatorade, cold samples from Nekter Juice Bar, plus fruit, salty, and carbohydrat-y snack items
8:30 (approx) Begin Raffle Prizes and Race Awards, courtesy of The Running Shop

9:00 Official course closure -- for safety's sake, the National Park Service reserves the right to pick up any participants still on the course starting at 9:00 am. 

2019 race medal


Questions?  Email or call Randy Accetta, SAR race director at 520-991-0733

Date and Time

Race Start: 8 mile at 6:25 am, while the 5k starts at 6:30.

Race Awards

Race Director Prize Money Challenge: The first man who breaks race director Randy's course PR of 42:48 will receive $424.80 in cash on the barrelhead.  The first woman who breaks a gender-graded equivalent of 47:48 will receive $474.80 in cash on the barrelhead.

Nicholas Hilton 41:33, 2018

Katie James 46:39, 2016

The 8 Miler is part of SAR's Running Shop Desert Grand Prix

2020 Awards 

Special thanks to The Running Shop, long-time sponsor of SAR and the Saguaro Labor Day Run!

8 Miler. Overall top three and Age groups: 15-19, 20-24, etc to 80 & over 

Overall 1, 2, 3 $40, $30, $20 + special gift TBD
Masters 1 $20 + special gift TBD
AG 1 $15 + bottle opener, 2 $10 + special gift TBD, 3 special gift TBD

5K: Top three men and women, plus first place in age groups in 10-year categories: 0-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70 + 
5K (AG 0-19, 20-29, 10 year thru 69, 70 & over = 14 age groups)
Overall 1, 2, 3 $25, $20, $15 + special gift TBD
Masters 1 $15 + special gift TBD
AG 1 special gift TBD

In these races, there is no double-dipping.  Overall winner will be taken out of all Age Group awards.

Additional Details

Parking: Park safely along Old Spanish Trail, Freeman Road, and Escalante. Please don’t block driveways or bike paths. Carpooling is strongly recommended. The earlier you arrive, the shorter your warm-up jog!

Park Fee: The National Park Service has been gracious about allowing us access to the beautiful park. The Park Service asks that all participants pay the standard $5 entry fee to the park. This amount will go directly to the National Parks Service. If you buy an annual pass to the national parks (or are under 16 years of age), this fee will be waived if you provide your permit number on your entry form. For information on an annual park pass, see visit this page, or visit any national park and inquire at entry. Race entry fees also include labor cost of additional park rangers required for the event.



The National Park Service: The National Park Service has been gracious about allowing us access to the beautiful park. The Park Service asks that all participants pay the standard $5 entry fee to the park. This amount will go directly to the National Parks Service. If you buy an annual pass to the national parks (or are under 16 years of age), this fee will be waived if you provide your permit number on your hard-copy entry form or your online registration. 

Friends of Saguaro: This year's event will donate funds to the Friends of Saguaro.  Friends of Saguaro National Park: Our mission is to help the public discover Saguaro, protect Saguaro, and support Saguaro.    

Southern Arizona Roadrunners: This event raises operating funds for SAR and income for the Children's Fitness Fund, an award-based program supporting youth fitness in and around Tucson.


Call Race Director Randy Accetta 520-991-0733 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Race Fees

Cap at  750 participants

8-Mile Run - 

$45 until June 30, 2020

$50 after July 1, 2020

5k Run/Walk - 

$45 until June 30, 2020

$50 after July 1, 2020

National Park Service members receive a $5 discount.  Using online registration, please enter "NPS" and your Park Service membership number.

SAR Members: please note that the SAR member discount of $5 off your registration fee is available through July 31st, 2020.

Please remember that all registrations are final, with no refunds or transfers to other races.  The race will take place rain or shine.


  • Saturday, September 5 at The Running Shop 10:00 am - 1:00 pm Visit The Running Shop at 3055 North Campbell Avenue and pick up your number and your shirt. Please note that there is no race weekend registration.
  • Monday, September 7 race day packet pick-up will be available at the park entrance 5:30 am - 6:15am. Please arrive early enough to get your shirt and your race number on time!
News Course Info

Race Distances and Courses

8 miler and 5k family walk and run at Saguaro National Park East at 3693 S. Old Spanish Trail Rd.  The course is a challenging 8 mile loop with lots of rolling hills (see course profile in photo to right). Aid stations at approximately 2, 4, 6, and 7 miles provide plenty of relief with Culligan water.  Thanks to the Tri-Girls and Sahuaro High School Cross Country for helping with the aid stations!

A family-friendly 5k, on an out-and-back rolling course is also available.  Strollers are allowed in the Fun Run/Walk only, but please, no bicycles, wheelchairs, skateboards, strollers, roller-skates, or pets allowed in the 8-miler. The 8M course closes at 9:00 a.m.

IMPORTANT: Saguaro is known for its hilly course and hot temperatures—please prepare accordingly: practice hills, acclimate to the heat, bring water, wear cool clothing, and adjust your pace to account for the demands of the race.

Women's Course Record: Katie James 46:39 (2016)

Men's Course Record: Nicholas Hilton 41:33 (2018)

Can you handle the hills?


Saguaro National Park East at 3693 S. Old Spanish Trail Rd.  Please note: The race is at Saguaro National Park EAST!

Race Weather

Race conditions at start are typically 75 degrees or higher, humid, clear skies, and no wind.It gets hotter later in the day . . . check out Tucson’s current conditions and forecast so you’ll be prepared!


Proudly Sponsored by:

The Southern Arizona Roadrunners is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting health and fitness in Tucson and Southern Arizona through running and walking.

southern arizona road runners