“Run Where you Play”, a fun and fitting mantra for Vacation Races which was founded in 2012 with the original Zion Half Marathon.
Since its’ inception, seven more destination races have been added including; Grand Canyon, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, Great Smokey Mountains, Yosemite and Lake Powell.
The goal for each race is to put on beautiful half marathons and get people to visit and enjoy our amazing National Parks.
Every race is eco-friendly with cup-free aid stations and the use of hydro-pouches to minimize the impact on the environment.
On March 12th, my sister Dot Helling and I competed in the Zion Half Marathon as our annual destination race to celebrate her birthday.
Exploring Utah canyon country and being surrounded by the beauty of Zion and it’s environs made the choice simple for us.
I came across some information about the race, and my sister had two friends from Vermont participate in 2015 and thought it was great, so I suggested we pick it for her birthday event.
The days leading up to the race were relatively warm and dry but, as with any race, you have to be prepared for all types of weather.
Race morning welcomed us with chilly and wet conditions and some delays because of a muddy parking lot that required additional shuttles to the start.
Ironically, as we were standing in the starting chute, I struck up a conversation with a woman named Jaime Hoffman who just happened to be from Bayfield.
A life-long athlete, Jaime began running in her 20’s after realizing it offered so much flexibility within her schedule.
“It was not my thing prior to then, but I like that it was my time and I could go where I wanted to whenever I wanted to,” she said.
Jaime signed up for the Zion Half after having competed in the Lake Powell Half in October 2015.
“I loved how Vacation Races put on their race. I think they were very organized and provided a great feel to the race.” she said. “I would do Lake Powell again and try some of the other Vacation Race series.”
Because of time constraints, Hoffman wasn’t able to do many activities outside of the race but did take some time to drive through Zion and fuel her desire to return.
In addition to enjoying the close proximity to the park, there are so many other great spots to explore nearby, so my sister and I took advantage of what we could during the short time we were there.
Having been to Zion before, we opted this time to head over to Bryce Canyon and do some hiking there the day after the race.
We also spent a day hiking the Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch trails near Kanab, Utah, which offer a spectacular slot canyon experience.
“I love Utah,” Helling said, “and it is relatively easy for us to get there from Durango. I definitely like to seek out beautiful places for racing.”
For runners who love to combine racing with a vacation experience, Vacation Races offers a pleasurable experience often during non-peak seasons at many of our most popular National Parks.
Reach Marjorie Brinton at firstname.lastname@example.org.