There was plenty of drama in the 2023 Cocodona 250 Mile — it just happened over days of running through the Arizona desert.
The 2023 edition began on Monday, May 1, and concludes on Saturday, May 6. Now in its third year, the ultramarathon once again delivered the goods.
The route begins in Black Canyon City and finishes in Flagstaff. With nearly 40,000 feet of elevation gain, a maximum altitude of 9,135 feet, and a cutoff time of 125 hours, the Cocodona 250 Mile demands every ounce of physical and mental strength from its runners.
It’s also long enough to deliver some surprises, and this year was no exception.
Michael McKnight endured a tough first half of the race, then drew on some hidden reserves to crank back to first place for what event officials called the “ultimate comeback.” Sarah Ostaszewski came in first for women, while running for the Aravaipa Racing Team.
Runners continued to trickle over the finish line as of Friday afternoon.
2023 Cocodona 250 Mile Men’s Race
After snagging a second-place finish last year, Michael McKnight delivered a time of 69:41:31 to take first place this week — but it was a rocky road.
“Michael suffered through some tough patches in the first half of the race but rallied hard and put the hammer down in the higher elevations to wind his way up to the win,” the race organization wrote on Instagram.
Josh Perry came in second with a finish time of 70:57:52. He showed the traits of a seasoned thru hiker by delivering a swift and steady performance, organizers said.
Coming in third was Michael Greer with a finish time of 72:47:07. Greer dropped out of the race line-up last year after a fall left him with a broken hip just a few weeks before the race. Returning this year — and making it to the podium — marks another remarkable comeback story.
2023 Cocodona 250 Mile Men’s Results
- Michael McKnight – 69:41:31
- Josh Perry – 70:57:52
- Michael Greer – 72:47:07
- Kevin Goldberg – 76:08:05
- Jeff Garmire – 77:03:46
2023 Cocodona 250 Mile Women’s Race
Sarah Ostaszewski keeps getting faster. The runner has participated in the Cocodona 250 Mile for all three years, and once again upped her game. She placed fifth in 2021 with a time of 99:24:49. She knocked that down to 84:21:24 for a third place last year.
Then she sliced nearly 12 hours off her time for a 72:50:27 finish on Thursday, taking first for the women.
Aliza Lapierre crossed the finish line about four hours later, arriving with a time of 77:04:14. She slowed in the final 50k after injuring her neck in a fall.
Then there’s third-place Mika Thewes, who fought through several falls, then “repeatedly rubbed some dirt onto those wounds and carried on,” the event wrote on Instagram.
She arrived just an hour and a half after Lapierre, earning a time of 78:27:13.
2023 Cocodona 250 Mile Women’s Results
- Sarah Ostaszewski – 72:50:27
- Aliza Lapierre – 77:04:14
- Mika Thewes – 78:27:13
- Sally McRae – 87:48:49
- Alicia Jenkins – 92:57:12