2018 Zion Ultra Changes

We made some changes to the 2018 Zion Ultras course and wanted to make sure people know what those changes are and why we made them.

The changes come primarily because of two things:

  1. We felt like we needed to move the start/finish line.
  2. Flying Monkey is too crowded.

Let’s start with #1. For the first 4 years of the race, each distance started and finished at the park in the small town of Virgin, UT. As the race grew, Matt found a new staging area up Kolob Terrace Road that allowed us more privacy and some onsite camping.

Well, in 2016, it drizzled for 3 days and boy was it a mudfest both on course and at the finish line. When the dirt at Zion gets rained on for multiple days, it turns to the slickest, heaviest, stickiest mud/clay mixture you have ever seen. It was brutal. We ended up having to cut some of the races short, and changing the half marathon course altogether in order to keep the trails from getting destroyed.

Last year, the wind did us in. So, we are moving back to Virgin. There is still plenty of free dispersed camping in the area, and we’ll need to keep the noise down during the night, but it is a better staging area. All races will start and finish at the city park in Virgin. There is not enough parking within walking distance, so we will have some remote parking areas within a few miles of the park and shuttles running on a schedule to get you to the start/finish line. We’ll send out more details a few months before the race.

The second catalyst for change is the crowding of Flying Monkey. Going up/down this trail is a highlight for many. It’s the first major ascent and descent of the race and is super fun. However, because it is so early in the race, as attendance has grown the trail has gotten crowded. Some people had 15-20 minute waits to ascend in 2017. So we are not eliminating Flying Monkey, but you will get up the mesa via Smith Mesa Road.

NOTE: you will still hit the Flying Monkey Aid station twice, but you will only descend Flying Monkey trail.

Now, the field should be spread out enough to completely eliminate the waits that have happened at Flying Monkey the past couple years.

This change does add a couple miles to the beginning of the race, so the only other change is we are eliminating the descent/ascent to/from Grafton Cemetery which also eliminates Grafton Cemetery Aid Station. Many runners hit this section during the night, so while we are sad about removing this very cool part of history from the race, we don’t think most runners will miss it.

This is it for the course changes for the Ultras. The half marathon course is completely changed from the last 2 years and will utilize the same final 5 miles as the rest of the distances. You can see the map here.

The final major change is our cutoff times. There are only two places where missing the cutoff time will DQ a runner and we will require you to exit the course:

  1. 2nd pass at Dalton Wash Aid Station at 5:00 PM Friday (100M and 100K)
  2. 2nd pass at Grafton Mesa Aid Station (100M) 3:00 AM Saturday

These grim reaper times will be strictly enforced. Anyone who refuses to exit the course will be DQ’d and will not be allowed to race with us again.

Beyond those times, you can find the minimum pace times here. These minimum pace times are what you need to maintain in order to avoid a DNF. Our aid stations will close based on the minimum pace times, so if you find yourself behind by 10+ minutes we cannot guarantee you any aid. However, if you feel good and want to continue, you will be allowed.

You will notice that the 50K and Half marathon distances do not have a “grim reaper” time. As long as you are feeling good, you can keep going. However, if you finish past the finish line minimum pace time you will be listed as a DNF.

We are excited by these changes and hope you join us in 2018!

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Robin is our resident social media maven, email marketing ninja, and all around friendly gal. She lives in Los Angeles, CA where she enjoys pleasant weather and puts up with the crazy entertainment industry. She's also an Army Brat who recently graduated from BYU with a degree in Communications, a recreational runner, and a recent fan of half-marathons.

  • Julie Hood says:

    So I am signed up for the half marathon and I have two questions. If I finish after 4 hours will I not get a medal and does the timing stop at 13.1 miles since I understand the course is a mile longer than that (I have done a lot of halfs and finished between 3 and 330 but expected to finish in around 4 to 5 for this race given the terrain)? Thank you!

    • Anna Basso says:

      For all distances at our ultra events, runners must keep up with the minimum pace times, and beat any Grim Reaper times listed on the respective sheets in order to receive an official time. In the case of the half marathon race for the Zion Ultras Event, there are no Grim Reaper times so as long as runners finish by 12 pm they will receive a finisher time. Any runners that finish after that time will still be allowed to finish, and will also receive a finisher award. However, their time will be listed as a DNF.

      • Julie Hood says:

        Thank you, I hope to be done by noon. Just as a point of information, is there an option to start earlier when the 50K starts?

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