Race Review: Cactus Flower Series Estrella Cactus 5k at Estrella Mountain

Race Review: Cactus Flower Series Estrella Cactus 5k at Estrella Mountain


Let me just start by saying I started writing this post in June. OMG. Time flies. I promise to be more on top of these things in the future. That being said, at least the next Estrella Cactus 5k is just a few weeks away. Oh, and when I publish my review of LAST year’s McDowell Mountain Ragnar Trail Relay later this week, I don’t want to hear anything about how that race is only a month or so away! 

Well folks, June 6th was the last race in Cactus Flower Trail Series Spring Series. The Cactus Flower Series Estrella Cactus 5k was held at Estrella Mountain Regional Park, just like the Desert Marigold 6k, though the course was a significantly different than the previous one, in difficulty and technicality.. The park is located just behind Phoenix International Raceway.

Much like for the last race, the weather was completely out of character. The average highs for June in Arizona is in the hundreds, which translates to much warmer early-morning hours. Thanks to Hurricane Blanca pushing a low pressure system our way however, we enjoyed some lower-than-average temps as well as some rainfall. We lucked out that the rain wrapped up the night before or the trail would have been a mud run!

It seems that with each race, the issues I’ve noted in my reviews are improved upon. Whether the race organizers are seeing my posts (if you are, HI!!!!), or enough runners are just providing feedback, I remain super-impressed that the organizers are taking runner feedback so seriously and are making immediate changes. Cactus Flower Trail Series has been hands-down one of my favorite event series for this reason alone. Immediately notable at this race:

  • A volunteer was taking parking fees to ensure that every car paid
  • Start times were once again slightly staggered with a call for faster runners to move to the front
  • The screens for viewing finish times were moved slightly so that finishers reading their times were not in the way of those crossing the finish line

estrella start

As the race started, there was a light drizzle of rain that stopped almost immediately. Normally I would probably be happy for it to stop, but given the weird weather it was quite humid and I think that the a little rain might have helped how it felt. The trail itself began with the slight up-hillness of the previous run, but the terrain was completely different, and more like the Saguaro 7k at White Tanks, though a bit wider of a trail. The trail featured a good balance of technical (read: rocky) terrain, inclines/hills, level ground, switchbacks and straightaways. Considering its shorter distance than Desert Marigold, the race felt longer due to the trail terrain. I didn’t finish with my fastest 5k time (38:56 with 12:21 minute miles), but I’ll just blame it on running in my new trail shoes for the first time, and the humidity in the air.


All-in-all, as the 3rd trail in the Spring Series I think I liked this one best, both due to distance (I run relay races and whatnot but 5k is my favorite distance), and the mix of trail difficulty. We’ll be running the Fall series too, and while I am not certain if the trails are exactly the same, I kind of hope this one is! the Fall Series starts with this same race on October 17th. If you haven’t checked out the series, go do it now! If you’re not ready to commit to the whole shebang there are single race registration options available.

See you in October!

– Jess

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