July 1

2021 Race & Event Outlook

12  comments

Like many of you, 2020 blindsided us, resulting in several race cancellations early in the year. However, even during the midst of the pandemic, we spent the better part of the year successfully, safely, and responsibly holding races. In some instances, we had no option but to cancel. In most cases, we were able to work with health departments and permitting agencies to modify our operation plans and hold races on a case by case basis.

We would all like to breathe a sigh of relief that 2020 is behind us and get back to pre-covid normalcy. Unfortunately, it won’t be that simple. Even though vaccines are being administered, it would seem that things will probably get a little worse here in the first couple months of the year before they get better.

We are an optimistic bunch by nature. We keep moving forward, planning events, and taking it one day at a time. The alternative is to close up shop and call off all races. But if we called off the whole thing based on those few instances where we were unable to hold a race, then we would never have the chance to hold all the races we were able to successfully put on!

While we don’t love the uncertainty, we think some patience and hope is worth having for those moments of triumph.

Uncertainty will continue into 2021. Uncertainty is the price we all have to pay in order to get to hold and participate in events this year. We will do our best to keep you informed on the process and the status of each race. We have policies that allow you to be confident in your registration choices and afford you some flexibility. In the few instances where that uncertainty results in a worst-case outcome, we will do our best to take care of you. But by signing up for a race you acknowledge that uncertainty is the name of the game, and that is a price you are willing to pay.

If you are not comfortable with any degree of uncertainty, you should not sign up for any races for the foreseeable future. We will be ready for you when you are comfortable to return!

We're still in uncharted waters and don't pretend we can see the future, but we're confident that we'll be able to solve problems as they arise.

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.

Need to Defer/Transfer your race entry? Jump to our policy page here.

Zion Half Marathon  |  February 27

12/30/20 - UPDATE 2: Somewhat unexpectedly, the town of Springdale has denied our permit to finish our race in their town. The 2021 Zion Half Marathon is not being cancelled, but it is being drastically changed. We have a new course and some important logistical updates you should be aware of. We go into great detail to explain the circumstances that led to this decision and the changes to the event on this blog post.

12/1/20 - UPDATE 1: We have been in communication with our main permitting entity - the Town of Springdale. Per usual we have ben discussing a few improvements to our operation plan based on last year's event. We are confident we will be able to work with the town and Washington County come Feb. 27th and be able to execute an operation plan that takes COVID compliance into account. The two main areas of concern would be the shuttles and the start line. Our plan will likely include small group staggered starts throughout the morning (which would effect shuttle times) and required face coverings on shuttles - just for starters.

The reason for a lower confidence level (75%) is the unknown. Looking forward, I would think conditions would be more stable. But the current climate has everyone on edge. Utah is finally seeing higher cases (which it hadn't for most of 2020), people are waiting to see how the holidays and gatherings will impact the number of cases, the inauguration in January, etc. So there is a lot of uncertainty. I think we will get through all this and be in an okay position come February, but the uncertainty has to be accounted for when making a projection.

IF we are forced to cancel (for reasons outside of our control like a shutdown or our permit getting pulled) there will be no refunds. We have tried to be very clear about this by including strong wording on the registration, communicating what to expect on the website, and sending out emails letting runners know. There will be no refunds, but there will be full deferments to the 2022 race or any of our other races. 

Under our normal refund policy, runners can STILL get a refund now if they request it. The refund window will close on December 7th. Any runners uncomfortable with this level of uncertainty or risk and who will be happy with nothing short of a full refund should make that request before Monday. There will be no refunds offered after that.

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We are hopeful that we will be able to host the Zion Half Marathon in Springdale as usual, though likely with adjustments for social distancing and other preventative measures for COVID if things stay the way they are now.

We will post updates here once we get them, and inform registered runners.

VR Confidence: 75%

Zion Ultras  |  April 10-11

12/1/20 - UPDATE 1: The Zion Ultra is SOLD OUT of ALL distances! Nothing in the planning of the event has given us any real cause for concern. Our permitting agencies are open with us, and having just put on a modified version of this event in September, we are confident planning will go smoothly. There *may* be some changes to start/finish and course staging if some things we are working on go our way. But otherwise - all systems GO!

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We don't know what April will look like pandemic-wise. However it is not difficult to accommodate social distancing at ultra running events. We expect we'll be able to hold this race in April. 

We will post updates here once we get them, and inform registered runners.

VR Confidence: 90%

Saguaro Half Marathon  |  March 27

12/16/20 - UPDATE 1: Permits have all been submitted and communication with the county has been positive. We are very optimistic this event will go off as planned and we can't wait to host the inaugural Saguaro Half Marathon in Tucson! 

The main unknown for us now is what guidelines will be in place at the time of the event and how it will affect us. Our best guess is that we will have staggered waves and assigned start times, drive thru bib pickup, etc. - the usual modifications. But we won't know the nitty gritty details until it gets closer to the event. We will be sure to update everyone as we go along. Registration opens Friday, 12/18!

VR Confidence: 90%

Yosemite Half Marathon  |  May 8

1/6/21 - UPDATE 2: We have been in communication with our Local contacts in Oakhurst. Currently Madera County is on a mandatory quarantine of 14 days for anyone traveling into the area. They are re-accessing things every 2 weeks based on confirmed cases in the area. At this point, we are at the mercy of what the local permitting agencies will allow us to do. We are confident we will be able to execute an operation plan that takes COVID compliance into account. The two main areas of concern would be the shuttles and the start line. Our plan will likely include small group staggered starts throughout the morning (which would affect shuttle times) and required face coverings on shuttles - just for starters.

The reason for a lowered confidence level (50%) is the unknown. Looking forward, I would think conditions would be more stable. But the current climate has everyone on edge. The vaccine is finally being administered to people. This will hopefully be a turning point for this Pandemic to allow for larger gatherings to start happening again. We will still likely implement several changes to keep all of our participants and locals safe- Such as eliminating our expo and implementing a drive-thru bib pickup the day before the race. There is however, still a lot of uncertainty. I think we will get through all this and be in an okay position come May, but the uncertainty has to be accounted for when making a projection.

IF we are forced to cancel (for reasons outside of our control like a shutdown or our permit getting pulled) there will be no refunds. We have tried to be very clear about this by including strong wording on the registration, communicating what to expect on the website, and sending out emails letting runners know. There will be no refunds, but you may defer to the 2022 Yosemite race, or any of our other races on the calendar. It's your choice. 

Under our normal refund policy, runners can STILL get a refund now if they request it. The refund window will close on January 24th (Refunds are only available to new runner registrations, meaning, if you are deferred from a previous race, you will only be able to defer your registration). Any runners uncomfortable with this level of uncertainty or risk and who will be happy with nothing short of a full refund should make that request before January 24th. There will be no refunds offered after that.

12/1/20 - UPDATE 1: We have started talking to the Forest Service and Madera County. Madera County is open to events on a case by case basis - which is very encouraging. The Forest Service, like a lot of organizations, is unsure how to manage the opening of some of their facilities - like campgrounds and such. We have a five year permit with the Forest Service, but our finish line and campground are under Forest Service jurisdiction while being managed by the office of California Land Management. So as there are a lot of cooks in this kitchen... and it is California. :) As of right now we are cautiously optimistic and working with all our permitting agencies and will update you as we go.

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California has been hesitant to hold any kind of event. However we are in contact with local authorities and will continue to update you as we get more info. We're hopeful that by May, we will be able to safely hold this event.

We are a part of the California Coalition for Endurance Sports and have been working aggressively with other race directors, county supervisors, and county health departments to encourage the state to recognize endurance sport as an industry and to help build a road map to return to holding events. Up until now, the state has been ignoring events. We are hoping to change that by showing there is a way to safely and responsibly hold these events. Both we (event organizers) AND runners are willing to make compromises and adjustments in order to do just that!

VR Confidence: 50%

Bryce Canyon Ultras  |  May 29-30

After being able to host the Bryce Canyon Ultras in 2020, we're confident that the measures we've taken will allow us to host this in 2021.

VR Confidence: 95%

Grand Teton Half Marathon & 5K  |  June 4-5

12/1/20 - UPDATE 1: Our event in 2020 was permitted, but under the condition that at the time of the event we would comply with all guidelines. But despite our pressing the county, they were never able to provide us with clear instruction on what those guidelines were (hey, they were doing their best and making it up as they went along - just like everyone). So we felt it wasn't prudent to hold the event. In hindsight I think we could have, but it felt rushed and forced and we weren't confident then that we could do the race safely and responsibly and didn't want to jeopardize our runners or the future of the event. So we cancelled.

Our 2020 permit rolled over to 2021, so we are most of the way there. We will be issued our permit on the condition that we meet health guidelines at the time of the event (whatever they may be). I am confident we will be able to, with event adjustments.

I expect that will be common for most of these later of the year events - permits issued conditionally.

VR Confidence: 90%

Yellowstone Half Marathon & 5K  |  June 11-12

9/21/20 - UPDATE 1: While we were unable to hold this race in 2020, we were able to host a small group half marathon later in the summer. We are confident we will be able to hold this race in June.

VR Confidence: 95%

Glacier Half Marathon  |  June  26

12/30/20 - UPDATE 2: There was some misinformation spreading online that East Glacier would remain closed until September. This is not the case. The Blackfeet Tribe has extended Tribal Order 121 until September of 2021. Tribal Order 121 is basically social distancing guidelines (following CDC recommendations) and the authority of the Blackfeet COVID Incident Command Unit to make decisions and enforce these guidelines. The closure of East Glacier is a separate issue. It very well could continue or be effected by this, but both we and our contacts at the tribe do not foresee this interfering with the race in June. The Blackfeet tribe has a unique set of concerns that we share and are sensitive to. The protection of this country's Native populations is very important to us and we will continue to follow the tribe's lead. We just wanted to clarify that some posts circulating abut Order 121 dos not mean East Glacier will remain closed.

12/1/20 - UPDATE 1: We are hopeful this event will go on as planned. However, the entire race takes place on the Blackfeet Reservation. We are mindful of how the pandemic has impacted our brothers and sisters on reservations around the country. Ultimately, we are at the mercy of the Blackfeet Tribal Council and what actions they feel they need to take in order to protect their people. We have gotten the okay from them to announce the date and begin planning. We hope by June things will be in a stable place for them and we will be able to hold the event, although with modifications (staggered starts, etc.).

VR Confidence: 70%

Rocky Mountain Half Marathon & 5K  |  July 30-31

Based on the info we have now, we expect to be able to hold this event this summer.

VR Confidence: 95%

Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon & 5K  |  September 10-11

9/21/20 - UPDATE 3: We were able to host this event in 2020, and expect to able to again this September!

VR Confidence: TBD

Mount Rushmore Half Marathon  |  September 18

We expect to hold this race in 2021- but heads up! This will likely be the last year we hold this race.

VR Confidence: TBD

2021 Antelope Canyon Ultras  |  Date TBA

1/7/21 - UPDATE 5: The Navajo Nation is still currently closed to outside events, tours, and activities. An event in March will not take place at this point. If possible, we would like to put on the event this fall, but this would be highly dependent on if the Navajo Nation reopens and we are approved to hold the race. If you have a deferment from a previous event and were holding out for a spring Antelope Canyon event, we suggest registering for any of our other events on the race calendar.

We will stay in contact with the permitting office, and provide an update in 1-2 months if we have any additional news. 

12/15/20 - UPDATE 4: The Navajo Nation has said they will be making a decision January 1st on if they will open the reservation or not. This could just be an arbitrary date and come Jan 1 it gets pushed back, but for now we are waiting to hear what happens on January 1st. Three things could happen:

1) Jan 1st the Navajo Nation announces plans to open up, allowing our race to happen early March. In that case we would quickly open registration and plan the event.

2) Jan 1st the Navajo Nation announces plans to open up, but not soon enough for our race. In this scenario we either try to reschedule for the fall or we just skip 2021.

3) Jan 1st comes and goes and there is no definitive plan. In this scenario we either try to reschedule for the fall or we just skip 2021.

11/10/20 - UPDATE 3: Unfortunately, nothing has changed since our last update. A March event doesn't look promising but all options are on the table still. We will be sure to let you know as soon as we know more.

10/14/20 - UPDATE 2: The permitting office is still closed. At this time, they are speculating that they will reopen around January 1st 2021. This is, of course, just speculation. We will continue to be in contact with our Navajo friends for updates. We would really like to open registration a minimum of 90 days prior to the event. If this is still not an option around the 1st of January, there is a good chance we’d look into doing the event at a later date in either April or early May. All options are on the table at this point so please continue to monitor this blog and our social channels for updates. We will be sure to make a big announcement as soon as we receive the green light to proceed with our event.

UPDATE 1: 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 is about the size of West Virginia and is situated on 27,000 square miles of land spread across Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. The 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.

VR Confidence: 20%
More info


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. You may also view our COVID-19 policy, here

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.


Tags

Grand Circle, Great Smoky Mountains, Half Marathons, Joshua Tree, Lake Powell, rocky mountain, Saguaro, Small Group Half Marathons, Trailfest, Ultra Marathons, Yellowstone, Zion


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  • For the Zion 100m. How many are people are we allowed to have crew at the rest stations? Are we allowed to have pace runners for any sections?

    • Hello Bryan. You can have multiple members in your crew, but only one crew member may assist you at an aid station at a time. Keep in mind that crew access is only allowed at certain aid stations on locations on the course.
      It is a similar situation for pacers. You can have more than one pacer for the event, but only one person may pace you during any given time. You can read more details about pacers and crew here: https://vacationraces.com/ultras/zion/?preview=true#tab-con-1.

    • Hi Patricia. We currently sit at a 50% confidence level. The ultimate decision is beyond our control. If we are permitted to do the event, we fully anticipate the race to happen. If we are not permitted, we will be forced to cancel and those who are registered will be deferred to next year’s event. If you are unsure, runners may still get a refund until the end of Yosemite Half’s regular registration window (1/24/21). Please review our most recent post about the Yosemite event (above) for the latest updates.

    • Hi Jama. If our Yosemite (May 2021) event is forced to cancel for reasons beyond our control, we will work toward planning a 2022 event once again in May. We do not intend to push a Yosemite event to the month of October.

  • Hello. Do you know if Zion Half 2021 is still moving forward? If not, when do you anticipate knowing? We just did the Zion at Night Half and fell in love with Zion. We would love to do the road race but have our reservations at this point. Thank you in advanced. Margie J.

    • We’re are highly confident (given the current environment) that we’ll be able to put this race on. Especially since we were able to safely host the Zion at Night and Zion Ultras events recently. What would cause this to change would be if there were a huge Covid-19 spike in Southern Utah right before race weekend and the local authorities prohibited the event from happening.

    • Yes! You can walk the race. For our half marathons, each runner is given 4 hours to finish the race. So if you can walk an 18 minute/mile pace, then you can do it!

  • When can I expect to find out about the date for Glacier half marathon in 2021? I want to book a vacation around this run but don’t have an exact date yet. In 2019 it was on the 22 but for 2020 it was scheduled for the 27th. Thank you for any information on a tentative date.

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