We've got a few updates concerning our upcoming race calendar we wanted to keep you posted about. The calendar has been a bit of a roller coaster, so in an effort to keep transparency and keep everyone updated, here is a race by race update on where we are currently at in the planning stages of each of these, how they might be effected by COVID, etc.
Here is a race-by-race breakdown on the status of each race, how it might be changed, and a confidence rating on if the race will be held or not.
Bryce Ultras & Zion at Night (Recap)
We were able to hold two events about a month ago: The Bryce Canyon Ultra at the end of May, and the Zion at Night Small Group Half Marathon at the beginning of June.
These were the first after a series of cancellations. Both served as an experiment to see if we could successfully organize a race that was compliant with health guidelines and sufficiently provide participants the opportunity to practice social distancing. Both served as important learning experiences and both accomplished what we set out to do.
This gives us a lot of confidence planning the remainder of the year's races.
Rocky Mountain Half Marathon & 5K | July 31 - Aug. 1
8/10/2020 UPDATE 3: Event successful! - Thank you to all of the runners and volunteers who came to this event! It was great to breathe in that crisp Rocky Mountain air, and a little rain prior to the 5K wasn't going to get our spirits down- instead we got a stunning rainbow and sunset that evening. Saturday morning had perfect weather for a half marathon. We want to applaud everyone who finished, and a special congrats to all of the Elk Double participants- You are all amazing!
We appreciate everyone's flexibility in the staggered starts and maintaining social distancing and/or wearing a face covering when around others. For those who earned a place medal, they will be shipped out to you later this week. For anyone who didn't get a chance to browse the merchandise tent while at the event, you can shop online here.
7/16/2020 UPDATE 2: Per our variance approval by the health department, we will be starting no more than 50 runners every 10 minutes. This will only be possible with runner cooperation. We will be parking runners, staging groups of 50 on the baseball field, and then walking one group at a time down to the start line every 10 minutes. Runners have been assigned a wave based off their expected finish time (provided during registration). Using those wave assignments, we have created the following chart to show when you should be parked, when you should be in the start que, and when you will start your race.
HALF MARATHON SCHEDULE:
UPDATE 1: The county requires a variance request to be approved before necessary agencies even review our permit. We submitted a modified operation plan as part of our variance request showing how we intend to keep groups to less than 50 people and maintain social distancing during the event. Our request was APPROVED!
So now the necessary agencies can review our permit. We don't anticipate any problems, we've been in close communication with all parties involved in Estes Park and this being our 7th year doing the race the rest of the permit approval process should be smooth.
So although we don't have all of our permits yet, the one piece that was of concern was that variance request and it has been approved by the health department, so Rocky Mountain Half is GO FOR LAUNCH!
We'll send out details to runners, but mainly modifications to the event will include: no expo (drive thru bib pickup), staggered start times (starting 50 runners approximately every 15 minutes), social distancing enforced, no spectators, etc.
Registration is closed.
Yellowstone - Small Group Half Marathon | Aug. 8-9
8/10/2020 UPDATE 2: Event Successful! - We couldn't be happier to see those runner's who came to run this event. Yellowstone presents a difficult course, and while this small group course is "easier" than our original Yellowstone course that is typically held in June, it's still a tough trail run in the mountains that you can all be proud of for finishing.
The weather was fantastic and we received lots of great feedback. We are working to make even more improvements to our Small Group type of events. If you like this method and are eager to run, we highly encourage you to sign up and run our Zion at Night half marathon which takes place September 19th, 2020.
UPDATE 1: After the success of our Zion at Night experiment, we're going to do a similar "small group" race in West Yellowstone. This event will be just on the edge of town on Forest Service land. It will be a trail run on the Rendezvous Ski Trails.
Groups of 50 will start every half hour all day. We've cleared things with the Forest Service and will implement heavy social distancing at this event.
Registration is closed.
Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon & 5K | Sep. 11-12
9/15/2020 - UPDATE 5: Event Successful! Thank you to everyone for running with us! We also want to thank our friends in Townsend for hosting us for these races. Whether you raced the 5K, the half, or you went big by doing the Black Bear Double, we applaud you. No event is perfect and with the different new aspects we were trying to juggle there were a few balls we fumbled. But we are looking forward to your feedback so we can improve for next year. Be excellent to each other. Happy exploring!!
9/2/20 - UPDATE 4: You can read our official RACE GUIDE with all the pertinent race information here: https://bit.ly/2QstTK2
8/17/20 - UPDATE 3: NEW 5K COURSE: We have modified our 5K course for 2020 and it is an improvement over last year's course. More stroller friendly, less crowded, etc. Check it out! https://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/3257202175
8/16/20 - UPDATE 2: The race is "Go For Launch"! We have always had a high level of confidence this race would happen, but after speaking with local tourism, the town, and the police, we have officially declared this race is good to go. We will be rolling out a lot of updates via email and on the website over the next week.
Because TN is so lax on health guidelines, our precautions and restrictions are all "self-imposed". After successfully holding events in Utah, Colorado, and Montana - we have adopted some best practices that we will be implementing at this race. For example:
-No expo (merch sold at finish line)
-Drive through bib pickup on Friday
-Race morning bib pickup if you can't make it on Friday
-Temperature taken at bib pickup
-Social Distancing and masks enforced
-Staggered/rolling start for both 5K and Half Marathon (expect delays)
-Assigned start time (to minimize congregating and eliminate unnecessary waiting)
-Hands free water stations
-Shuttles operating at 1/2 capacity - sanitized before each load
UPDATE 1: Tennessee is taking a very hands-off approach to regulations and restrictions when it comes to large gatherings. This puts greater burden on us to make sure we're implementing the best practices to keep runners safe and limit exposure and spread of germs at the event rather than some target set by local authorities we need to hit. But the race is on and Townsend is looking forward to having us.
Changes at this race will mainly impact the expo, 5K course, shuttles, and start time. We'll likely cancel the expo and facilitate some sort of drive thru bib pickup. We're trying to reroute the 5K to limit congregation and allow staggered starts.
We still plan to shuttle everyone to the start line but encourage runners to be dropped off at the start line and will limit the number of people allowed on the shuttle at a time (50% capacity).
We'll require masks to be worn while on the shuttle. We'll also wipe-down shuttle seats between each load.
We'll assign start times based on waves and have a "rolling start" that allows runners to start at more of a trickle than a large thousand person + mass start.
Registration is closed.
Zion at Night - Small Group Half Marathon (Round 2) | Sep. 18-19
9/21/20 - UPDATE 4: SUCCESS! We had a great time putting on this event. It was a beautiful night and we were happy to see so many faces (behind masks). We should make this an annual thing!
9/2/20 - UPDATE 3: Official race guide coming soon!
8/17/20 - UPDATE 2: Submitted a report to BLM about how our first Zion at Night went and things are looking good for Part II! All systems go.
UPDATE 1: Our first Zion at Night Small Group Half Marathon was a great event and this one will be patterned almost exactly off of it.
The first go around was really short notice for a lot of people so we're offering this second event in hopes that those who couldn't join us the first time will be able to make it out.
This one will be just like our first Zion at Night: no expo, extreme social distancing, limited groups every hour, etc. This is a trail run. Permitting agencies are all on board with this one so we feel really good about it.
Registration is currently open.
Zion Ultras 2020 - 100K/50K/Trail Half Marathon |
9/21/20 - UPDATE 1: All systems are go and we are in full production mode this week getting ready for the race this weekend!
NOTE: This is for the 2020 event. This is a redemption race for the one we had to cancel in April earlier this year.
The ultras naturally lend themselves to social distancing and staggered starts. With different distances starting at different times we'll stagger those starts and thin out the congestion on the trails.
We'll forego an expo. However, we won't offer a 100 mile distance so that we can keep it to a single day event. In addition, we're pleased to announce that the 100K distance at the September 2020 event, will be a qualifier race for Western States 2022!
Registration is currently open.
Grand Circle Trailfest | Sep. 30 - Oct. 3
9/21/20 - UPDATE 4: Nothing major to report. We are moving forward with plans and getting excited for next weekend!
9/2/20 - UPDATE 3: We have been working closely with the Navajo Nation regarding our third day's course (Horseshoe Bend and Waterholes Slot Canyon). The reservation has been strongly impacted by COVID-19 and Navajo Parks are not open. We do not expect them to open until next year. We are planning on our Day 3 course to be the Page Rim Trail which is a great trail for running and provides great views of Lake Powell, Tower Butte, etc.
8/17/20 - UPDATE 2: We put out a survey to our runners trying to gauge everyone's concerns and comfort level. We are putting together an email informing runners on the data we collected. The long short of it is: 70% want to do Tailfest as planned, 30% do not. The majority of those who want to see it happen would rather it be cancelled than have it be just thre days of trail running.
So, Kanab wants the event and Kane County is still in the "green phase" which means Trailfest is on like normal. We are working on a hybrid in person and virtual festival, will be implementing certain procedures and taking precautions (staggering meal times, practicing social distancing and encouraging face masks while at the festival, etc.) all in an effort to have Trailfest look as much like it normally does as is reasonable! We will be rolling out the specifics on these precautions soon.
UPDATE 1: Trailfest is in a bit of a different situation than our other races. Such a major component of the event is the festival portion. We're confident in our ability to modify a race to be compliant with restrictions, but a gathering of hundreds in one location to camp/eat/party together is a little trickier.
Right now, Kane County (where Kanab and Festival HQ is) is in a "green phase" and our event would be permitted as-is. We're planning Trailfest to go off per usual, but with a few added precautions to encourage as much social distancing as possible.
In the event that Kane County moves back to a Yellow Phase, we'll need to cancel the festival portion of the event. If that were to happen we would partially refund participants to account for the loss in meals, camping, entertainment, etc. But we would still be able to put on 3 world class trail runs with amazing views.
Registration is currently open.
Lake Powell Half Marathon | October 10
9/21/20 - UPDATE 3: NPS hasn't really permitted any events nationwide since COVID and so every NPS agency is hesitant to be the first. Unfortunately they are dragging their feet and so we have decided to go with our Plan B course and run the Page Rim Trail. This is a wonderful course (the best two miles of our usual Lake Powell Half course are on this trail!), but it is different. It will be all trail. Trail shoes are not necessary. The course provides lots of beautiful views of Lake Powell, Tower Butte, and the Vermillion Cliffs on the backside of Page.
9/2/20 - UPDATE 2: The NPS is hesitant to permit the portion of our race that runs through the park (and our finish line). We have a backup course which will be 100% trail. It is a great alternative. We will update here as the planning unfolds.
UPDATE 1: Lake Powell is on as planned.
The two variables here are the portion of the race inside NPS boundaries and the shuttle from the finish area to the start area. It's still too far out to know for sure what will happen. One possible scenario would be everything is fine and we implement similar precautions as Smoky Mountains (shuttles at 50% capacity, masks required by passengers, rolling start, etc.).
An extreme scenario that renders shuttles impossible or finishing inside NPS boundaries not being permitted would possibly push us to change the course. We have some great backup courses we could implement (13.1 miles on the Page Rim Trail) should it come to that.
Registration is currently open.
Joshua Tree Half Marathon | November 7
9/21/20 - UPDATE 4: San Bernardino County is currently reviewing our operation plan to see if they will permit it (taking COVID restrictions into consideration). CHP reviewed our plan is ready to permit and support the event, so we are waiting to hear back from the county. We hope to know this week!
9/2/20 - UPDATE 3: The deadline to receive a refund Sunday, September 6th. Although we are optimistic and confident in our ability to put on a "COVID safe" event, we are ultimately at the mercy of permitting agencies. Although we have been successful in CO, MT, and UT, California has its own concerns and guidelines. We have submitted our plan for review and are proceeding with our planning and executing for the event. If we are forced to cancel we will not be offering any refunds. Runners will be able to defer their race entry to the 2021 race or another race in our series or choose to complete the race virtually. If runners are not comfortable with that uncertainty and come what may will only be happy with a full refund, then they need to request that refund before Monday.
8/17/20 - UPDATE 2: Joshua Tree Lake & RV Campground (our start/finish) and the town/community of Joshua Tree are supportive of the event, but it all depends on what San Bernardino County and the State of CA say. Right now, it is not clear how events will be permitted in California. There are restrictions in place. So, like we have (successfully) done with other races, we are presenting a modified operation plan to the county that will restrict group sizes, eliminate unnecessary congregating (expo, finish line, start line, etc.), introduce hands free water stations, etc. The clearest way to achieve this will be to assign groups of 50 or less a start time and run through the night - 50 runners every half hour from 6pm to 5am. We are submitting the plan for review and will update everyone as we hear more.
UPDATE 1: November is so far off it's hard to guess what things will look like come race day. Permitting is simple with this one so as long as California allows gatherings of some sort in November, then we plan on holding the Joshua Tree Half.
One possible scenario is that instead of one mass start we stretch the event out through the night with multiple starts. We'll work with our hosts at Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground to see how feasible this is, but that very well could be how this race shakes out.
Registration is currently open.
2021 Antelope Canyon Ultras | Date TBA
We were able to hold the 2020 Antelope Canyon Ultras right before everything went crazy with Covid-19. We felt extremely fortunate at the time that we were able to hold the event.
Antelope Canyon Ultras showcases some amazing views of the American Southwest. The course runs through Sacred Slot Canyons of the Navajo Nation, Runs along the Rim of Horseshoe Bend, also taking place on the Navajo Nation. With all race distances finishing the day running along Page Rim trail overlooking the Lake Powell National Recreation area.
The Navajo Nation About the size of West Virginia and situated on 27,000 square miles of land spread across Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, Navajo Nation is home to approximately 175,000 people.
It's also home to a coronavirus infection rate of more than 3.4% and more than 6,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Navajo Nation Department of Health.
The Navajo Nation has suffered a great deal of loss and pain associated with this pandemic. The permitting office shut everything down around the same time as our event this year and is still uncertain about when they will reopen. Since the majority of the race is on the Navajo Nation we will be waiting for a green light from them before we open up registration for the 2021 event. We will continue to post updates on here as they come available. We will also make a big announcement before registration opens.
We're committed to holding these events in a way that is safe and responsible.
We understand this is an uncertain and emotional time. This update might seem a little generic or repetitive, but we want everyone to be up to date in our efforts to organize these races so you can sign up with confidence and with your eyes wide open to what participation might look like.
As always, the unexpected can happen and throw a wrench in these plans. We'll keep doing our best to keep you informed and to provide you with options.
Thank you so much for your support.