Friday, May 11, 2018

Zion Half Marathon Race Recap 4/28/18

Zion Half Marathon Race Recap 4/28/18
A couple weeks ago, I ran the Zion Half Marathon put on by Vacation Races and it was so much fun! What made it so fun was the company and of course the beautiful scenery. Me and my friend Erin were reunited with our good friend Lenora that we had not seen since last summer so it was great that we were all able to catch up and do this race together.

PACKET PICKUP: Me and Erin flew into Las Vega, NV from Sacramento Friday morning. You can also fly into St. George, UT but it was a lot more expensive airfare than flying into Las Vegas. We reunited with our friend Lenora at the airport. From Vegas into Zion was about a 2 and a half hour drive. It worked out perfect because it was so nice to catch up with Lenora in the car.  We drove straight to our hotel, The Best Western Plus Zion West, in La Verkin to check in. It was a decent hotel for the price and a great location to stay for the race (~40 minute drive to start line). After checking in, we headed straight to the expo located at a park 7 minutes from our hotel. It was outside with a few booths. 
Zion Half Marathon Expo
The expo was small but decent. The name poster was a nice touch. We arrived in the afternoon so there was a line but it wasn’t too bad and moved fast to get our bibs and shirts. They did move the race up an hour due to a high winds forecast in the afternoon (they wanted to make sure everyone finished before the winds).  It is great that Vacation Races was very good with communicating this by text, email, and also at the expo. The design of the shirt is pretty cool.
Zion Half Marathon Expo shirt 2018
RACE DAY: Start time of the race was changed to 7am and being about a 40 minute drive from the start line we woke up very early. Our alarms were set for 4:15am to leave the hotel at 5am. We got up, I ate a roll with peanut butter, changed etc. and were out the door by 5am-ish. It was great that we left when we did because there was traffic. After turning off from the main road, we hit the car traffic right away and it was slow going all the way till we got to the course parking lot. 
Traffic on way to Zion Half Marathon
We arrived about 30 minutes before the race started but had to visit the porta potties. The lines were long when we got there so we had to wait a bit for all 3 of us to go. The race started right on time at 7am for the first wave, and we had all just finished with the bathrooms. We weren't in a rush though as we were going to start in a slower wave anyway.
 It was a beautiful morning for a run.
Beautiful Morning - Zion Half Marathon
 Here's our pre-race shot.
Zion Half Marathon
There was actually coffee out for participants. Nice to see but we were already on our way to the start when we saw it. Had we gotten there a lot sooner, I would have had a cup.
 Here's the start line. 
Zion Half Marathon
The course was on trail, mainly dry dirt. It was dusty like and in some parts tough to run. I believe around mile 6 was where we ran in a pasture like area that was grassy. It was also interesting that the course was cup-free. They offered a hydrapouch for every runner, otherwise you brought your own bottle. It's a great way to prevent waste and to have a cleaner race.
Running Zion Half Marathon
 The course was beautiful and it was fun taking in all the gorgeous scenery.
Fun shot Zion Half Marathon
Lovely scenery - Zion Half Marathon
The course wasn't easy with the hills. I remember two long gradual hills and a really short but steep climb around mile 11. It made for nice challenges during the run. I still had fun. It was hard not to sharing the run with good friends. :)
I believe the below pic was heading to the finish line. I was having a blast.
Zion Half Marathon
Below we are with our medals by the finish line. I really like the medal. It is huge and I love how there is a quote engraved on the back that reads, "Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a some of them are dirt." John Muir. It's a great quote. 
Zion Half Marathon
Here's the course map taken from my Garmin. We finished short of 13.1 and this is including the breaks we took to the porta potty. The course did repeat some as we went through the start area again, which I'm not a fan of at races, but it turned out alright. I just enjoyed our beautiful surroundings so I didn't mind repeating sections for this race.
Course Map - Zion Half Marathon
There was chocolate milk at the finish, along with bananas, and a recovery food box. 
Here's the recovery food box which was great since I used some of the snacks for hikes later in our trip.
recovery box Zion Half Marathon
Overall, Vacation Races put on an awesome race! They did a great job with organization and even with the high wind forecast. They adjusted and communicated with us well. They made the right call for everyone's safety. I was actually glad it started early as by the end, it got pretty warm. I also liked how the pictures were free. I do wish there were more photographers and that they were more easy to see, but other than that, it was a great race.
Zion Half Marathon
Below is the awesome medal closeup. Another thing I liked about this race series is they encourage you to get out and enjoy the National Park. We had a great time doing the trifecta. This entailed completing 3 activities/short hikes and taking pictures with our bib and medals at each place to get a pin. They also offered club hikes to do for a medallion. We didn't have time for a club hike since we did Angel's Landing instead (trip report will be on the blog soon).
Zion Half Marathon medal 2018
Anyway, this is a race I definitely recommend. After this one, I definitely want to do a another Vacation Races race. It's such a great combination; running, hiking, and doing it all close to amazing National Parks. I'm looking forward to the next one.  Below I will leave you with a video recap of the race I created with the footage I got from my GoPro. Enjoy!
Happy running!

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