Zion Ultras – Trail Half Marathon

Location, course, scenery…on top of it being my first half marathon, this was truly the most memorable race I’ve ever run. This was a day of “firsts” for me. First out of town race. First (real) half marathon. First real race in months. First race over 6.2 miles. First race with Vacation Races. In today’s post, I’m providing an in-depth review on this special race (a review of our road trip will come later!).

Location & Course

The race was hosted just outside Zion National Park in Virgin, Utah. Views, views, views! From start to finish, this course featured panoramic views of the signature landscapes of Southern Utah – mesas, mountains, horses, cattle and more! The race started in the town of Virgin, with the first mile on the highway until we reached the trailhead. Once we reached the trail, we were immediately treated to sunrise views over the mountains and mesas in the distance. It literally felt like a postcard! Perfect temps as well – we started the race in the 60s and ended in the 70s. A few miles in, we started to climb. The hills were gradual but they were tough. We accumulated 700+ feet in elevation gain. And the funny thing was, once we climbed, we really didn’t go downhill (those darn mesas!). My favorite part of the race was running along the Virgin River. So peaceful and quiet…truly life changing views! The final leg of the race was the most challenging. Once the trail ended, we finished the race on the road once again. This portion featured some pretty steep hills (a rough way to end the race, but I was up for the challenge!).

Going into this race, one of my biggest concerns was getting lost on the trail (I know, ridiculous!). This course was so well-marked, there was no chance I’d get lost. Big relief. Additionally, Vacation Races had several aid stations along the course that never seemed crowded. I packed enough water and nutrition with me, so I had no need to stop. But they definitely had plenty of hydration and nutrition ready!

Pre-Race Activities

Vacation Races had their system down! Drive-thru check-in and bib pick-up was a breeze. We showed up the night before the race and easily picked up what we needed, without leaving the car! Very easy and COVID-conscious.

Post-Race Activities

Race finishers were given a pre-packaged box of snacks. Protein bars, chocolate milk, trail mix, bananas, etc. The food was handed to finishers with their medals. Super simple and COVID-conscious! Finishers dispersed pretty quickly after the race. My husband and I found a shaded area for me to stretch and cool down. Definitely plenty of room for us to spread out after the race!

Final Words

I can’t wait to race with Vacation Races again soon! I was so impressed with how the race was organized (and how about the swag!? Love that medal and shirt). This is what racing during a pandemic is supposed to look like. Thoughtfully planned, limited crowds, plus responsible participants – I felt safe the entire time. My nutrition, hydration, and apparel worked perfectly. The scenery and course were so incredible. I loved running in a new state and I can’t wait to travel again for another adventure with Vacation Races! Yellowstone looks pretty great! June 2021…here we come? : )