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Joshua Tree Half Marathon

This has quickly become a favorite of thousands to cap of their racing season! Join us for a fun night under the stars at the 5th annual Joshua Tree Half Marathon. As the sun dips below the horizon, the party begins with a night race through the desert!
  • Location: Joshua Tree, CA
  • Date: November  6, 2021
  • Terrain: Sand!
  • Difficulty: Moderate

November 6, 2021

Joshua Tree, CA

Difficulty:

Sand Trail

Loop Course

  • Quick Info

  • Travel & Lodging

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  • Registration is closed!

Race Info

Date: November 6, 2021

Start Time: 6:00pm


Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground

2601 Sunfair Rd

Joshua Tree, CA

Expo & Bib Pickup

November 6, 2021

10:00am - 5:00pm

Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground

The Course

Headlamps are required for all runners on this course!

Weather: 39°–64°F

Terrain: This is a sandy course - we recommend wearing gators. 


Strollers allowed? No

Disability Friendly? No

Dogs allowed? No


Course Photos

Get a feel for the terrain and landscape that await you out on the course!

This race will be at NIGHT. Running through the desert outside Joshua Tree under the stars and the moon with the quiet of the night, the deep canyons in the distance, silhouetted buttes, and the twinkling desert all around will be an unforgettable experience. Explore Joshua Tree by day – run it at night.

GET INVOLVED

Wander Project Final Logo color

Support Our

Park Communities

Fundraise for your chosen race and your registration fee could be waived. All funds go to Wander Project to support efforts in and around the communities that host our events.

Learn more about Wander Project >>

Volunteer with Us!

Our amazing volunteers help runners at the race expo, finish line, merch tent, and beyond! Join us for a 3-4hr shift and earn a $50 or $100 credit towards a future race.

Pro-tip: Volunteer at the expo and run the next day OR ask a friend to volunteer and "gift" you the credit (or use it themselves!)

HOW TO PREPARE

Train with Active at Altitude

FREE custom Training Plan for each event!

No matter what your skill level, when you're pushing your limits it's nice to have a little guidance! We're excited to offer FREE training programs for all levels.

training landscape

Know Your Guidelines

- Read your race details! Following event rules helps us to put on safe, sustainable events.

- We are a cup-free event! Please stick to reusable water bottles and avoid bringing disposable items to the race.

- Be courteous towards fellow runners on and off the course.

Join the Community

Vacation Races is honored to have a community of runners who actively support one another! We highly recommend joining one our Facebook groups to get input from other runners, share stories, and learn about the latest updates.

Joshua Tree Half Details

Come here to prepare for your race! Want this info on-the-go? Download the race guide >>

Course Details

Course Overview

Start: 6:00 pm in Joshua Tree, CA
Cutoff Time: 10:00 pm (Runners have a 4 hour chip time to complete this race)

This event will be a sunset and evening run, under a sea of stars. Our course will start and end in Joshua Tree, CA at Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground, just 20 min from the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park.

If you’ve run with us before, you know that the scenery is extremely important to us when we choose our courses. We’ve tried something different with our Joshua Tree Half Marathon course. While the course itself isn’t necessarily scenic, the stars, night sky, joshua trees, and open desert will make the race a beautiful one! This course is on dirt roads, which depending on weather and how traveled they are before the race can greatly change the terrain. This is a very challenging course and is not always easy to run or get footing. There will be plenty of sand, so be prepared for loose sand and even significant portions with soft and deep sand. Combining this terrain with the fact that the race will be a nighttime event, we are asking each runner to bring a headlamp or some sort of light to illuminate the ground in front of you, as well as wear reflective gear/clothing.

The course will be well-marked, but it is your responsibility to know the course and pay attention to markings as well as stay to the left when running with traffic and be courteous and mindful of cars and other runners. DO NOT step off the course into traffic; you will be disqualified. We want you to stay safe.

This course is a challenging run through the Mojave Desert in Joshua Tree, CA near Copper Mountain. With the exception of a quarter mile at the start and a one mile section in the middle, this course is entirely on dirt roads and trails. The dirt roads will have sand on them with varying degrees of deepness adding to the challenge of this course. It is completely runnable, but runners should understand these conditions are difficult and not stroller friendly. That is the price we pay to run under the stars through the desert!

Gear

Required gear: Headlamps or flashlights

Recommended gear: Trail shoes; trail gaiters; scarf/bandana/buff (runners will be fine without these items, but if you have them and prefer running with them this is a good course to use them on- the gaiters will keep sand and rocks out of your shoes and the scarf can keep you from inhaling dust. Dust is not a major problem on course, but with this many people running on these sandy roads it tends to kick up a fair amount so that is something to plan for if it is something you're sensitive to).

Course Details

Start: Runners will start at the Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground. They will head south down Sunfair Rd (paved road) for about .25 mile. There they will turn off the road onto a dirt road and head west.

Mile 1-2: The dirt road runners turn onto is a little more narrow than the paved Sunfair Rd. We will choke the start line by waves to thin things out a bit, but runners should remember running etiquette (namely, stay to the right and when passing call out “on your left”). There is about a 200 foot climb from mile 1 to just past mile 2. This is probably one of the sandier spots.

Mile 2-3: Once you get past the little climb after mile 2 then you continue running on dirt roads through a semi residential area until you turn onto Center Ave at mile 3. Our first aid station will be in this section.

Mile 3-5: Runners will turn and head north on Center Ave (unmarked road) and continue running on dirt roads until the reach Winters Rd. Our second aid station will be near mile 5.

Mile 5-9: Runners will turn and head east on Winters Rd and enjoy a brief break from the dirt road as they run on pavement until just past mile 6. From there, the road turns back into dirt and there is a short 100 foot climb from mile 6.5 to mile 7. Runners will then continue on the dirt road until the turn south onto Mt Shasta Ave. There will be an aid station near mile 7 and mile 9. By now the sun will have fully set, stars will be out in force, and you will be high up away from any cars and lights. Truly out in the desert.

Mile 9-11: Runners continue on Mt Shasta Ave until they turn west onto Sonora Rd. We will have an aid station near mile 11. This section is all dirt.

Mile 11-Finish: At about mile 11.5 runners will turn off Sonora Rd. onto Coyote Valley Rd (which turns into Sunfair Rd). From here to the finish is a nice little downhill stretch all on dirt roads bringing you back into the campground for your finish.

*This is a difficult course with plenty of sand. Runners should prepare accordingly. We believe the challenge and the night sky make it worth it.

Time limit
All runners will have 4 hours to finish the race. That is an 18 minute mile - plenty of time for walkers! If at anytime we deem it unsafe and need to pull a runner off the course we would hope for understanding and immediate cooperation. Failure to comply will result in being banned from future events.

Course Records
Our course record holders receive a FREE RACE ENTRY every year that their time remains the course record! The current course record holders are: 

Male Overall: Kristian Kimberlin  1:24:29 (2021)
Female Overall: Amber Coppolo  1:34:04.5 (2021)
Male Masters: 
Steve Harris  1:31:46.9 (2021)
Female Masters: 
Sherri Ellerby  1:49:35 (2019)

Aid Stations

Expect about 6 aid stations on the course at around mile 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 12. A medic will be stationed typically at the aid station at or near mile 7. Keep in mind, the exact location of each aid station may vary from race to race. Aid stations include toilets, water, Gnarly Hydrate, Honey Stinger gels, basic first aid supplies, and sometimes more. 

All stations are cup-free so plan to bring your own hydration solution or request a free HydraPouch when you register. 

Additional Details

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Race Expo & Bib Pickup

You have a couple of options for picking up your bib and race packet including at the race expo or or we can mail it to you. When you register, we ask you to indicate when you plan to pick up your bib. If you plans change, don’t worry about it. We only ask to help us plan in terms of numbers.

Option #1: Race Expo
We’ll have our race expo the during the day of the race. We’ll have our merch table set up, so be sure to stop by and say hi!

Option #2: Race Morning (not recommended)
We will have limited race morning packet pickup. We do not recommend waiting until the morning, but if it cannot be avoided - we understand.

Race morning bib pickup will start at 4:30 and is located at the shuttle loading site. 

Option #3: Shipped Before the Race
There is a cost of $20 if you want to have your bib and shirt mailed to you. We do this as a convenience for runners not wanting to drive to the area early. You can add a shipped bib to your registration until one month before the race by logging into RunSignup, clicking Manage Registration, and Add Ons.

Refunds: Once your package is shipped, you are officially checked in to the race and no longer qualify for our refund, deferment, or transfer options.

Bib Pickup/Race Expo

Date: November 6, 2021

Location:

Hours: 10:00am - 5:00pm

This is a great opportunity to pick up your bib, check out the area, and meet fellow runners. We’ll have our merchandise table set up, so be sure to stop by and say hi!

Parking map for joshua tree half marathon

Bring Your Own Bag
In our ongoing effort to eliminate waste during our races, our expos are bagless events. We encourage you to BYOB (bring your own bag) to hold your bib, race shirt, and any goodies you pick up from the race expo!

Race Day Schedule 

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The race starts at 6:00 pm sharp! Please plan to arrive by 4:30 pm.

Due to the timeline of the day, if you arrive at the expo after 3:30pm - please plan to stay until your start time. 

Saturday, Nov. 6th, 2021

10 AM - Race expo & bib pickup starts

4:30 PM - All cars should be parked for 6pm start time

5:00 PM - Race expo & bib pickup ends

5:00 PM - First prize raffle begins

5:30 PM - Pacers line up

5:45 PM - Runners line up & gear check last call

5:55 PM - National anthem

6 PM - RACE STARTS! 

Waves will start every few minutes

9:00 PM - Awards ceremony

10:00 PM - Race cut-off time

Due to the nature of this course, a headlight is required for all runners! We will have some for sale at the expo, but you should plan ahead and bring your own.

Parking & Drop-off

Parking & Runner Drop-off

Location: Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground (2601 Sunfair Rd, Joshua Tree, CA 92252)

We will have plenty of parking to accommodate all of our runners. The parking lot opens at 10:00 am on Saturday, November 6th for the expo and will remain open through the race. All cars should be parked no later than 4:30 pm. 

Runners will park in the designated parking areas. Please get there early to avoid any rush and to give yourself time to get ready for the race. If you have a reserved RV spot or are camping with Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground, please park your vehicle in your camping area and walk down to the race.

Drop-off

If you are dropping a runner off, please follow the drop-off signs. You will turn right off Sunfair Rd. onto La Brisa Dr. (north side of the property) and turn right to enter the property from the north gate. Unload your runner(s), then quickly exit the property back onto Sunfair Rd. Please drop your runner off no later than 4:30pm. If you intend to stay and wait for your runner, you should park with the rest of event traffic.

layout of parking and finish line

Parking and finish line staging

Spectators

Spectators and runners are welcome around the finish line to cheer on runners. They can park in the same parking lot and walk to the finish area. 

Please DO NOT drive to other areas of the race course to watch runners. This will add an unnecessary danger especially being a nighttime race. For spectators who are staying in the campground or RV camping, please walk down to the finish line. 

We recommend downloading the RaceJoy app to track your runner's progress and send them cheers along the way! Once your runner has crossed the finish line, please exit the runner recovery area to avoid crowding. The beverages, supplies, and medical tent at the finish line are for runner use only - thank you!

Zero Waste

As nature lovers, we are committed to keeping our events sustainable and managing negative impacts on the environment. Our goal is to send less than one bag of actual “trash” to the landfill after each event. We have managed to meet this goal at events with over 3,000 participants!

Here's how you can help us:

CUP-FREE RACING

Single-use plastic is a huge source of waste at any public event. We have reduced that impact by making our events "cup-free". 

What does that mean for you?

Coolers of Water and Gnarly Hydrate (electrolyte drink) are available at all aid stations, but cups will not be provided on course or at the finish line. In order to stay hydrated, we ask you to bring one of the following:

1. Reusable water bottle

2. Hydrapouch - These light-weight cups clip onto your clothes. You can order one for free when you register OR purchase one at the expo ($10).

3. Hydration pack - These are refillable backpacks meant for running that allow you to access fluid via a built-in straw.

Person using hydrapouch to get water from a cooler

Stay hydrated on the go with a hydrapouch!

ZERO WASTE CONTAINERS

You can help us reduce trash by sorting disposable items into the appropriate container. 

You’ll notice three containers at our events:

  • Compostables: Organic goods like banana peels and most food items (without the wrapper please!)
  • Recyclables: Paper, aluminum, cardboard, steel, and glass. Please dump out any liquids into the compost bin BEFORE recycling the container.
  • Everything Else: Non-recyclable food wrappers like from used gel packets and styrofoam. Please dump out any food matter BEFORE throwing away the container.

Please avoid putting organic waste and compostable items in the wrong bin. It gets gross to sort through.

Race Results and Photos

Race Results

Visit RunSignup for current and past race results.

Runner times are available ~20 minutes after you finish the race. Keep in mind, the results are not official until all runners have crossed the finish line, and have been reviewed by the event director. Because our age group winners are based on chip time, it is possible to cross the finish line before someone else in your age group while still finishing with a slower time than them. 

Top Finisher but missed the awards ceremony? You can request to have your place medal shipped to you!

Got questions about your placement? please email timing@vacationraces.com.

Photos

Race photos are typically available for FREE via RunSignup the Friday following the week of the race. We will send out an email when they're posted to the album. 

Award Ceremony Photos (legacy)
View past awards ceremony photos below:

Share your experiences with us! 
Be sure to use #JTHalf in any photos you post from the race or your adventures exploring the park so we can share in the fun with you!

Race Merchandise

Exclusive Glacier Marathon merchandise will be available both at the race expo and near the finish line! When possible, we'll have race merch for sale in our online store after the race is over. Please allow time for us to add items online.

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Joshua Tree Explorer Club Hikes

We like to encourage our runners to get out and enjoy the area where we hold our races, so we designate certain challenging and iconic activities in the park to be a part of our official club hikes and trifecta. We have 3 club hikes plus a less-intense, three-part trifecta!

What do I get? Any runners that take the challenge and complete one of the designated hikes within 72 hours of running the race will officially join the club, and receive a commemorative medallion! All you have to do is submit a picture of yourself at the designated location which includes:

  1. A clear view of your face
  2. Your bib with bib numbers clearly visible
  3. Your finisher medal in plain view
  4. Clear background showing where you are

These hikes are meant to be difficult and they can sometimes be dangerous. If you choose to attempt any of these hikes, you need to take them seriously. Please bring lots of water (more than you think you need), and bear spray.

Keys Club Coin

Keys Club

Listed as a National Historic Site, Keys Ranch is located in a remote, rocky canyon in the park. To preserve its historic character, admission to the ranch is restricted to guided walking tours. The tours are a half-mile in length and last 90 minutes. Group size is limited to 25 people. Tickets are required and must be purchased in person on the day of the tour. Buy tickets at the Oasis Visitor Center in Twentynine Palms starting at 8:30 am. Keys Ranch tours cost $10 per person aged 12 and over and $5 for children 6 to 11. Children under six are admitted free. Senior and Access Pass holders pay $5.

a k a keys ranch

Boy Scout Club

The Boy Scout Trail is a mostly flat trail along the edge of the Wonderland of Rocks. This is a very popular trail in the park because there are diverse things to see. The geological formations all around take your breath away. Travel through Joshua tree forests, boulder landscape, and sandy washes. After being on Boy Scout Trail for 1.25 miles there is a well marked sign verging off to the right for Willow Hole. Depending on what time of day to hike, many enjoy the sunset on their way back to the trailhead.

boy scout

Oasis Club

The trailhead is located at Cottonwood Spring. After the palms at the springs, the trail climbs toward the southeast through scrub desert. The boulder piles and rocky gullies become more common as the trail continues toward Lost Palms Oasis. At 3.3 miles, there is a spur trail that leads to the right to an overlook with birds-eye views of the green palms. Climbing back out the canyon is strenuous. Plan on 5-6 hours to complete this hike.

Always check the forecast before heading out on a hike. Changing weather can pass through the desert quickly. Don’t get caught unprepared for the elements. 

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Joshua Tree Trifecta

Looking for something less strenuous? Try the Joshua Tree Trifecta, challenging but less strenuous! 

The Trifecta is comprised of 3 different activities. You must complete all 3 in order to complete the Trifecta. These are iconic activities inside the park that should be experienced, but are doable with children.

The 3 activities that makeup the Trifecta are:

Joshua Tree Trifecta Pin

This trail is about a 1 mile loop located in the heart of the park. Hidden Valley is a place that was rumored to have been used by 19th century cattle rustlers. Surrounded by gorgeous rock formations with plenty of boulders to scale, as well as guide markers along the trail to identify plants and wildlife. This is an easy walk with a packed sand trail, and is family-friendly with rocks to scramble on, and even some shelter. There's no wrong way to explore Hidden Valley. 

Hidden Valley
Joshua Tree NP Hidden valley 2

Barker Dam was constructed in 1900 for cattle and mining purposes. Today, it holds rainwater and runoff for the local wild animals and if you’re lucky you might get to see wildlife such as birds, rabbits, squirrels, or even bighorn sheep or a rattlesnake (always keep your distance around wildlife). This area causes one to wonder how people managed to exist in this barren environment until some sort of water capture was made. Water may or may not be present. The trail is an easy hike, though closed toed shoes are recommended due to cactus. From the parking lot, follow the rope fencing to get to the trailhead.

Barker Dam
Joshua tree barker dam

Keys View is a lookout point located a couple of thousand feet above Joshua Tree National Park that provides an incredible vantage point. This is a short, paved loop path that offers breathtaking views of the San Andreas Fault, Mount San Jacinto, Mount San Gorgonio, and the Salton Sea. On a clear day, the prominence of the mountains from this point is stunning as you can see Palm Springs(~500 ft above sea level), and Mt. San Jacinto (10,834 ft above sea level).

Keys View
keys view

Other Things to See & Do

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