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Joshua Tree Half Marathon

This has quickly become a favorite of thousands to cap off their racing season.
The Joshua Tree Half Marathon is a one-of-a-kind NIGHT RACE that takes you through the desert and under the stars with colorful lights leading you to the finish!
  • Location: Joshua Tree, CA
  • Date: November 5, 2022
  • Terrain: Sand!
  • Difficulty: Moderate

November 5, 2022

Joshua Tree, CA

Difficulty:

Sand Trail

Loop Course

  • Quick Info

  • Travel & Lodging

  • Explore The Park

  • get ready for 2023

Run with us next year at Joshua Tree

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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

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 these details on the go? Download the race guide!

Course Details

Course Overview

Start: 6:00 pm (PST) 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.

map of the joshua tree course
2021 Elevation Joshua Tree

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 9. 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 Nathan reusable cup when you register

image of a blue foldable cup with the Nathan brand name on it

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 your 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. Expos typically last from 5-7 hours, giving you plenty of time to check in to your race.

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 $30 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 5, 2022

Location: Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground

Hours: 10:00am - 5:00pm (PST)

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! We'll have a variety of swag from shirts and tanks to our favorite Hydro Flasks and everything in-between.

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 (EST) 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. We'll have hot chocolate and Summit Coffee to keep you going!

Saturday, Nov. 5th, 2022

10:00 AM - Race expo & bib pickup open

4:30 PM - All cars should be parked for 6pm start time & start line prize raffle begins!

5:00 PM - Race expo closes & last call for bib pickup!

5:30 PM - Pacers line up

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

5:55 PM - National anthem

6:00 PM - RACE STARTS! 

Waves will start every few minutes

8:45 PM - Awards ceremony

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. 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. Nathan reusable cup - These light-weight cups fold into a pocket or waistband. Request one when you sign up to run!

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

image of the foldable Nathan cup next to a person folding the cup into their waistbag

Stay hydrated on course with a reusable cup!

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@runsum.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 Joshua Tree 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.

Still need to train? Join the email list.

We'll send you updates about registration opening, price jumps, and more to keep you on track! 

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