May 24, 2021 101 Comments

250 miles in central Arizona. In the heat of day. In the dark of the night.

250 miles of constant forward motion that sometimes feels motionless.

250 miles of grit and pain and despair and elation, to the ultimate of elation all the way to the finish line.

250 miles.

On May 3, founder of Aravaipa Running events, Jamil Coury was able to hold the event of his ultrarunning dreams: a 250 mile race through the heart of central Arizona, giving 173 runners the chance at completing what many deem to be the unthinkable.

Runners leaving the start line of the Aravaipa Cocodona 250 ultra marathon
Getting things going before sun up. - P.C. Howie Stern

The race is called the Cocodona 250, and according to an interview given to Satisfyrunning.com, Coury spoke about why he put on this event. “...Cocodona for me is a celebration of my home state and tying together all of these awesome, historic towns across central Arizona and then connecting all the landscapes in between,” he said in the interview. “We wanted to include as many towns as we could and really embrace the towns … I hope someday everyone in all these towns knows what the race is and look forward to it each year, come out and cheer on all the runners, day or night, and really be proud of their area and be excited about all these athletes coming in from all over the place to come run through their town and across the mountains and canyons that connect all these cities together.”

The interview was given prior to the event, and as the race unfolded, that is exactly what he and his staff were able to accomplish — just ask first place finisher, Maggie Guterl. I am really grateful for the opportunity to have been able to participate in the inaugural Cocodona 250,” Guterl said. “At no point in the race did I ever consider quitting; it was too special of an opportunity.”

Maggie Guterl at finish line of Aravaipa Cocodona 250 ultra marathon
A smile at the finish line says it all! - P.C. Howie Stern

The opportunity to race the inaugural event came at the coattails of Guterl’s DNF at the infamous Barkley Marathons this past March. And according to Guterl, it was her training for Barkley that helped her transition well going into Cocodona. In fact, she wanted to run Cocodona even before her Barkley attempt, but was afraid that the races would be too close together. “I trained for Barkley all winter, spending many long hours on my feet with lots of vert training,” Guterl said. “After the race was all said and done, I had been out on the Barkley course for 28 hours covering only 52 miles but 28,000 feet of gain.

“Cocodona sounded like a fun adventure although I knew it was rather close to the Barkley Marathons. I decided that if Barkley wasn't all I had hoped to achieve, and if I wasn't wrecked from my Barkley effort, then I would give Cocodona a shot. Barkley won this year again, so I found myself on the start line of this inaugural Cocodona among a few other Barkers who had failed as well.”

Following her Barkley attempt, Guterl took a week off, then focused her efforts toward running on lower desert trails near her hometown of Durango, Colorado to see if she was up for the challenge of the Arizona desert. She also had a previous 200-mile finish under her belt to draw confidence from, but said that nothing could really prepare her for what she would face at Cocodona.

View of the Sedona Valley where the Cocodona 250 traverses
Iconic views are a reward for the miles logged. - P.C. Howie Stern

“Back in 2019, I covered 250 miles in 60 hours at Bigs Backyard which is a totally different format than Cocodona,” she recalled. “You run one 4.1667 mile loop every hour on the hour until everyone gives up. … It is super hard to compare Cocodona, so I really felt like a newbie with no experience going into this race. I figured that this course couldn't be covered in 60 hours, at least not by me, and that I would enter uncharted territory. That was exciting and I definitely hit uncharted territory.”

That uncharted territory would include severe dehydration early on in the race. “One of my lowest lows was getting to Crown King at mile 37, she recalled. “I’m pretty sure everyone suffered big time in that 24 miles section after the first aid station where we climbed 8000 feet in what felt like 110 degrees. I ran out of all fluids 2.5 hours from the aid station. I carried all Tailwind which is my main fuel source and ran on fumes. It took until nightfall and freezing temps at 7400 feet at Kamp Kipa to recover from that.”

Maggie Guterl Grimacing during the Cocodona 250 ultra marathon
One of Maggie's faces that seems to say, "uncharted territory." - P.C. Howie Stern

But it wasn’t just the heat, but the dark of night that caused her to have to dig deep. “Going into the third night and during the third night was really hard,” she said. “Staying awake was tough and that was the uncharted territory I was talking about.” Guterl spoke about one of her pacers bringing a light that changed everything. “All my pacers came prepared with their Kogalla lights, and it was amazing!” she said. “I don’t own one, but it was like night and day (pun intended). I will definitely be getting one in the future.”

While having lights to light up the night was what helped Guterl get through some of her lowest lows on the course, it was having the natural light from the rising and setting each day that gave her something to look forward to and continue on. “I loved the sunrise because it meant a new day and some daylight to wake me up, and the sunsets meant relief from the heat,” she said. “Seeing the sun come and go was also beautiful.”

Another high was meeting her crew and picking up her pacers at the aid stations. One pacer was 2019 UTMB Champion Courtney Dauwalter who helped her to the finish line as the first place female finisher in a time of 3 days, 13 hours, 30 minutes and 38 seconds. “The finish line was the most memorable, epic finish I have ever experienced,” Guterl said. “I turned to my pacer, Courtney at the sight of the finish line and asked, ‘Is this what UTMB is like?’ because it was so amazing.

Maggie Guterl holding buckle and first place trophy for Aravaipa Cocodona 250 Ultramarathon
Proud owner of a new buckle and a first place trophy. - P.C. Howie Stern

“Coming across the finish line was a great feeling, but also a bit overwhelming because everyone was there cheering,” she recalled. “I really did not expect all that hype. It felt surreal. I remember thinking that everyone who crosses this finish line deserves this greeting and to feel this accomplished and I hope that everyone did. From 72 to 130 hours, everyone on the course ran through the same crazy conditions and accomplished something that no one has ever done. 108 people were the first finishers of the Cocodiona 250, and that is pretty cool!”

Guterl expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to be part of the Cocodona 250, particularly the race staff and her pacers. “I am really grateful for the opportunity to have been able to participate in the inaugural Cocodona 250,” she said. ”It was too special of an opportunity. Aravaipa has put on unique and safe races for a very long time. This was the first year doing this race which has a lot of unknown factors but they handled it really well helping us be as prepared as possible. I really appreciate my crew and pacers and everyone out there who helped us along the way. This is not a solo endeavor. This was the hardest race I have done to date, but at no point in the race did I ever consider quitting.”


100 Responses

Nick Nicholson
Nick Nicholson

September 09, 2021

Congrats!

Jonathan Freeman
Jonathan Freeman

June 03, 2021

Amazing!

Linda vanSteinvoorn
Linda vanSteinvoorn

May 29, 2021

Wow! Congratulations to all! Somewhere in the back of my mind I tell myself I could maybe do that some day. I honestly can barely fathom it.

Linda vanSteinvoorn
Linda vanSteinvoorn

May 29, 2021

Wow! Congratulations to all! Somewhere in the back of my mind I tell myself I could maybe do that some day. I honestly can barely fathom it.

Ramon Rosales Jr
Ramon Rosales Jr

May 29, 2021

Heart of Gold !!! Congrats Maggie

Jason Silver
Jason Silver

May 29, 2021

It’s always amazing and surprisingly relatable when such accomplished runners have the same kind of struggles and learning moments. I’m glad the trail running community is humble enough to share them.

Megan Burke
Megan Burke

May 29, 2021

Amazing achievement!

Katie
Katie

May 28, 2021

Great race Maggie! 👏👏👏 Amazing coverage too!

David Leeke
David Leeke

May 28, 2021

A huge achievement Maggie. Congratulations on a spectacular achievement.

Melinda Anne Yelverton
Melinda Anne Yelverton

May 28, 2021

I was completely glued to the live feed. It was so amazing and aspiring to see of all the runners out there giving it their all. Maggie was an absolute beast out there!!

Jason Boyle
Jason Boyle

May 28, 2021

Amazing story and great accomplishment.

Katie Webb
Katie Webb

May 28, 2021

Awesome job Maggie! It was fun following your race while pacing and crewing for my dad (a day or so behind you!).

Kyle Benjamin
Kyle Benjamin

May 28, 2021

Absolutely incredible and inspiring! Prepping for my first 100 but this has me thinking beyond that. Amazing work and accomplishment!

Jimmy Malthaner
Jimmy Malthaner

May 28, 2021

Congratulations Maggie and congratulations to the other finishers. Uncharted territory, you gotta love it. Pushing ones own personal boundaries is super exciting….

Ryan VanBrocklin
Ryan VanBrocklin

May 28, 2021

Love the Coverage! Loved watching you race! Go Maggie!

Ben Weule
Ben Weule

May 28, 2021

It was a very special race to watch and follow. Maggie is so inspirational. Congrats to you Maggie and all participants, crew, vollies, and everyone else connected. Awesome. Thanks Kogalla. Your lights are on my list.

Iris Cooper
Iris Cooper

May 28, 2021

Absolutely amazing!! Congratulations Maggie and all the other finishers!!

Bill H
Bill H

May 28, 2021

Congratulations to Maggie and all the other finishers of this inaugural 250 race! Hard to imagine having the endurance, drive and stamina to complete that distance.

Kristina Fitzpatrick
Kristina Fitzpatrick

May 28, 2021

Maggie, ur a beast ma’am!! And a definite inspiration to all!! You go girl!!

Judy F Marshak
Judy F Marshak

May 28, 2021

I just want to say you are an inspiration to us all! Amazing feat!

Renee Calvert
Renee Calvert

May 28, 2021

Way to go Maggie. You continue to inspire me with your toughness. And, I think I’ll need to check out the Kogalla lights, too!

Renee Calvert
Renee Calvert

May 28, 2021

Way to go Maggie. You continue to inspire me with your toughness. And, I think I’ll need to check out the Kogalla lights, too!

Marie Swinton
Marie Swinton

May 28, 2021

Congratulations! This is an amazing accomplishment. I can’t even imagine being part of such an endurance race. The mental and physical strength you exemplified is unspeakable. I am impressed. Congratulations again!!

Jerry Tinney
Jerry Tinney

May 28, 2021

What an accomplishment! Congratulations to all the runners

kade bair
kade bair

May 28, 2021

just a mind blowing accomplishment. Wow.

Dave
Dave

May 28, 2021

Just when we thought 200 was the “new 100” . . . 250! Tremendous effort!

Daniel Wagner
Daniel Wagner

May 28, 2021

I did a 12hr run once and decided that I would never do another timed run. Would rather do more miles even if it took over 12 hrs but 250 is more than I would dream of doing

Sam G
Sam G

May 28, 2021

Big’s Backyard is a monster. People who run these ultras are just different kinds of human.

Richard Rushka
Richard Rushka

May 28, 2021

I’ve loved following all the coverage and reading all the articles / interviews. What an incredible event! Hope to run it in the next year or two!!

Sandra Watts
Sandra Watts

May 28, 2021

Great article. Thanks for sharing.

Tessa
Tessa

May 28, 2021

Such an incredible accomplishment and so inspiring!

Aaron L
Aaron L

May 28, 2021

What an impressive feat. Running out of fuel like that might break me off, impressive to come back from that

Rosie B
Rosie B

May 28, 2021

In awe of these incredible athletes!! Congrats Maggie and all the athletes brave enough to dream so BIG! Courage to Start!

Lynne Day
Lynne Day

May 28, 2021

Congratulations to all the finishers!

Steve Webb
Steve Webb

May 28, 2021

Great job Maggie, I think I sort of know what you were feeling. I was one of the 108 finishers.

John Heycock
John Heycock

May 28, 2021

This article is an inspiring and uplifting example of what America and Americans are all about at heart-enduring, helping, and not giving up! We need more daily examples like Maggie to remind us that life is not easy, but overcoming life’s challenges truly defines who we are and what we can be. Maggie you rock!

Allison
Allison

May 28, 2021

Way to go Maggie! It was so great to follow along

Robert Blair
Robert Blair

May 28, 2021

Very inspirational

Chris Biernat
Chris Biernat

May 28, 2021

Huge congratulations to Maggie, the 108 Cocodona 250 finishers, and to all of those who participated in the race! You are all absolute warriors!

Paul
Paul

May 28, 2021

Thanks for the inspiration!

Melanie
Melanie

May 28, 2021

Congratulations to Maggie and the other 107 finishers of the Cocodona 250. I do not think I could ever run that far, let alone in the desert.

Willy
Willy

May 28, 2021

So darn amazing!

Sharon
Sharon

May 28, 2021

Gotta love the human spirit. What a shining example in Maggie!

Barbara Kachelski
Barbara Kachelski

May 28, 2021

Congratulations on achieving your goal!

Adrienne
Adrienne

May 28, 2021

What an inspiration. I’m fairly new to the ultra scene but the human will never stops amazing me. Congrats!

Isaac
Isaac

May 28, 2021

Such an inspirational story. Looking forward to racing my first ultra!

Shar Lynn Brodbelt
Shar Lynn Brodbelt

May 28, 2021

Great exhibition of determination and mental fortitude!

Anj Shaw
Anj Shaw

May 27, 2021

You are one tough cookie, Maggie!

Jeremy H
Jeremy H

May 27, 2021

Truly an amazing accomplishment of resilience and mental fortitude! So proud of Maggie!

Karen Look
Karen Look

May 27, 2021

Girl power! Congratulations on your accomplishment.

TJ Gardner
TJ Gardner

May 27, 2021

Maggie. It was great to see you out there and to hang with your crew as we all hopped aid stations together. You crushed it!! 2022 defending champ?

Greg Pressler
Greg Pressler

May 27, 2021

Congrats to Maggie and all of the finishers on a great, epic race.

Wendy Wagner
Wendy Wagner

May 27, 2021

Cocodona sounds like such an amazing challenge — so awed by Maggie and so full of excitement to see how this race develops over the next few years!

Jean-Jacques Paravisini
Jean-Jacques Paravisini

May 27, 2021

Wow. You have my biggest admiration!

Annette Greenberg
Annette Greenberg

May 27, 2021

Astounding ! Bada$$ Maggie! I often find myself doubting in my longer runs, but will no longer due to this. True inspiration!

Thomas Bowling
Thomas Bowling

May 27, 2021

Finishing this race is an amazing accomplishment. So many things can go wrong. Congratulations Maggie! You have a special heart and determination for endurance events!

Sunnymay
Sunnymay

May 27, 2021

Congratulations on persevering to stay in the race and keep putting your feet forward.

Christine Sapyta
Christine Sapyta

May 27, 2021

Long distance hiking and running outdoors is so primal! This article is inspiring me to get outdoors.

Joseph Bearss
Joseph Bearss

May 27, 2021

Can’t wait to come out to crew and pace next year!!! Congrats to all who started!

René Weis
René Weis

May 27, 2021

Amazing work out there!!! 🔥🔥

Brian Wirick
Brian Wirick

May 27, 2021

It was pretty rad to track almost all of the race

Rachel Ridgway
Rachel Ridgway

May 27, 2021

Oh to be a fly buzzing between Maggie and Courtney! The dynamic duo. Congratulations, Maggie!

Meg
Meg

May 27, 2021

Maggie!! you’re a “Rock Star”!! congrats on an amazing accomplishment!

Michael Michalak
Michael Michalak

May 27, 2021

Congrats! What an accomplishment! Be proud of yourself – you deserve it!

Jeff Roden
Jeff Roden

May 27, 2021

Very inspiring. Very impressive accomplishment for all, But the smile at the finish line is e en ,ore impressive.

Brandon M. Mathews
Brandon M. Mathews

May 27, 2021

Amazing and very inspiring. I hope to toe the lounge at this Epic race as well someday. True grit! Congrats!

CW
CW

May 27, 2021

I want to do this race next year! Amazing Maggie!

Jason George
Jason George

May 27, 2021

Hi,
Maggie you are an absolute great remodel for men and women. 250 miles is a tremendous accomplishment and to get 1st on top of it is extraordinary. I give you 100% props and keep being a roll model for us all.

Teresa Mayberry
Teresa Mayberry

May 27, 2021

Congratulations, Maggie!

Tim Speed
Tim Speed

May 27, 2021

Watched the Live Stream of this race and saw the grit, determination, beauty and inspiration. Well Done!

Norma Joyce  Jenkins
Norma Joyce Jenkins

May 27, 2021

How did you do that??? Hints please!!

John McClendon
John McClendon

May 27, 2021

Way 2 go Maggie! Hard to believe you won it on the first time out. Just incredible & marvelous. Keep fighting/pushing 4 more achievements!! Congraiulatons once again, Maggie!!!

Stephanie Mckenna
Stephanie Mckenna

May 27, 2021

What an amazing accomplishment! To think training for the Barkley transitioned into this race is insane. All the props there are girl!!!

Danielle Waterman
Danielle Waterman

May 27, 2021

Awesome job Maggie.

Linda Hurley
Linda Hurley

May 27, 2021

Congratulations! You are truly inspiring!

Danielle Waterman
Danielle Waterman

May 27, 2021

Awesome job Maggie.

Nicola G
Nicola G

May 27, 2021

Such an amazing achievement of true grit, determination and a little bit of craziness = #BeastMode

Bianca
Bianca

May 27, 2021

I watched so much of the livestream and truly enjoyed the dedication all of those runners had. I watched as she came down from Buffalo Park, watched her run through the roads I took for 20 years, and when she crossed the finish I was brought to tears. What a beautiful accomplishment!

David Hourcade
David Hourcade

May 27, 2021

I think getting all the towns involved was a brilliant idea that will make the race a fixture in peoples schedules for many years to come.

Lindsay
Lindsay

May 27, 2021

Love it! What an amazing race and a great accomplishment!

Jesse C Crandall Jr
Jesse C Crandall Jr

May 27, 2021

Maggie you showed with your determination & grit what it means to dig deep…Deeper than you ever have…You truly are Wonder Woman !! 😎🙌👊 Congratulations!🎈

Sarah Booth
Sarah Booth

May 27, 2021

What an amazing accomplishment on a difficult course!

Rory A.
Rory A.

May 27, 2021

So awesome! Congrats on a huge accomplishment!

Jesse C Crandall Jr
Jesse C Crandall Jr

May 27, 2021

Maggie you showed with your determination & grit what it means to dig deep…Deeper than you ever have…You truly are Wonder Woman !! 😎🙌👊 Congratulations!🎈

Brent Cassady
Brent Cassady

May 27, 2021

So inspiring Maggie! Crushing it!

Kathy L
Kathy L

May 27, 2021

maggie does the beast coast proud!! it was so fun to follow along on the live stream/tracker!

Monika Chao
Monika Chao

May 27, 2021

Very sick!! Great work on such an intimidating mileage.

Andre Lee
Andre Lee

May 27, 2021

Awesomeness! Congrats to the first female from the last finisher, me! Mr. DFL 🤙🏾😎🤙🏾

Chris Repar
Chris Repar

May 27, 2021

Awesome work! My goal is one day to complete a 200 !!

Eric Fronczek
Eric Fronczek

May 27, 2021

Way to go Maggie!

Jarrod E Blossom
Jarrod E Blossom

May 27, 2021

Simply amazing!

Caroline
Caroline

May 27, 2021

Amazing job to all finishers. So many great stories of deep strength!

Ketal Vyas
Ketal Vyas

May 27, 2021

Amazing

David Strawser
David Strawser

May 27, 2021

Awesome job we can only hope to aspire to be like you!

Kevin Meeker
Kevin Meeker

May 27, 2021

Congratulations Maggie Guterl. I can’t even begin to comprehend the challenges you and the rest of the runners faced during this race

Michael Hee
Michael Hee

May 27, 2021

Wow , that’s totally awesome ! I can’t even imagine that feeling !

Clare E
Clare E

May 27, 2021

The live stream Cocodona offered was amazing to be able to follow Maggie and the other runners through this difficult course. Great job Maggie!

Roberta Farley
Roberta Farley

May 27, 2021

Wow, what an amazing accomplishment. Reading your story is very inspiring, you really needed to dig deep on that race. Bravo.

Jeremy Sievers
Jeremy Sievers

May 27, 2021

I love working out and walking.

Yvonne Ortiz
Yvonne Ortiz

May 27, 2021

Walking is a natural recreation for a person. truly inspirational.

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