Joshua Tree Half Marathon

November 3rd, 2018   |   Joshua Tree, CA

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Course Details

This event will be a sunset and evening run- a unique experience within our National Park Half Marathon Series! 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're trying something different with our Joshua Tree Half Marathon course. While the course itself isn't necessarily scenic, the night sky and open desert will make the race a beautiful one!

Course description: 

We have made several significant changes and improvements to our **inaugural course. This course is a challenging course through the Mojave Desert in Joshua Tree, Ca (just minutes outside of Joshua Tree National Park) 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 trail. The dirt roads will have sand on them 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!

Required gear: Headlamps or flashlights

Recommended gear: Trail shoes; trail gaiters (runners will be find without these things, but if you have them and prefer running with them this is a good course to use them on)

Start: Runners will start at the Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground. They will head south down Sunfair Rd (paved road) for about .5 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 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 passed mile 2. This is probably one of the sandier spots.

Mile 2-3: Once you get passed 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 passed mile 6. 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.

**Our inaugural course ran the opposite direction and had some rough (hard to run) sections through Copper Mountain and some VERY sandy uphill sections. This new course we believe is a huge improvement. It is much more runnable, and road conditions are better. That being said, it is still a difficult course with sand. Runners should prepare accordingly. We believe the challenge and the night sky make it worth it.


This course is on hard, packed dirt roads, however there are sections just technical enough to cause problems if you're pushing a stroller or wheelchair. Because of this, combined with the fact that the race will be a nighttime event, we encourage you not to push strollers or wheelchairs as you run. Additionally, we require everyone to bring a headlamp to run with.

Like all of our courses, the Joshua Tree Half Marathon course is Cup Free! While we will have plenty of water and electrolyte drink on course, we do not have cups on course. Learn more about this policy and your options here.

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: Eric Palmer  1:22:25 (2018)
Female Overall: Laura Paulsen  1:26:12 (2018)
Male Masters: 
Iain Jones  1:31:48 (2018)
Female Masters: 
Kris Rostas  1:38:44 (2018)

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