Joshua Tree Half Marathon
Joshua Tree, CA | Nov. 2, 2019
Start: 6:00 pm in Joshua Tree, CA
End: No later than 10:00 pm
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!
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.
**The inaugural course ran the opposite direction and had some rough (hard to run) sections through Copper Mountain and some VERY sandy uphill sections. This 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.
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.
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)
Bib & Packet Pickup
When you register, we’ll ask you to indicate when you plan to pick up your bib. Your choices to pick up your packet are:
Option #1: Race Expo (recommended)
We encourage you to attend the race expo which will be on November 2, 2019 at Joshua Tree Lake RV Campground in Joshua Tree, CA. The expo will be from 10am-4:30pm. The race will start at 6:15pm sharp!
Option #2: Shipped To You (US residents only)
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 out to Joshua Tree early. This option is only available before the final price jump!
Note: Once your package is shipped, you are officially checked into the race and no longer qualify for a refund, deferment, or transfer options.
Bring Your Own Bag
In our ongoing effort to eliminate waste during our races, our expos are bagless events. We encourage you to #BYOBag to hold your bib, race shirt, and any goodies you pick up from the race expo!
If you're unhappy with the fit of your race shirt, or were unable to order the size you wanted, we will have a shirt exchange available at the finish line on race day. Please note that sizes and quantity will be limited.
We want to help you make the most out of your vacation. Below we will post links to some of our sponsors as well as general information.
Two good sources for your stay are the Peaceful Smokies website and the NPS website. Also be sure to check the Smoky Mountains page to learn more about park activities. We’ll be updating the information below over the next several months.
Where to Fly
PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT » Palm Springs International (PSP) is the closest airport to the race location. It's only an hour away from Joshua Tree and most airlines fly here!
ONTARIO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT » A little further out is Ontario International Airport (ONT). It's about a 1 hour and 45 minutes away, but has most airlines available. This is a smaller airport and tickets can get expensive, so book early!
LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT » It will be easy to find a flight to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) from most places, however it will be at least a 2 hour and 45 minute drive. If you get caught in LA traffic, the drive could be closer to 5 hours. Plan accordingly!
Where to Stay
JOSHUA TREE LAKE RV & CAMPGROUND » The race expo, start line, and finish line will all be at Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground in Joshua Tree, CA. This campground will also be the most convenient place to stay during your weekend! You can make RV reservations here, however tent spaces are all first-come, first-serve. There should be plenty of room for our runners.
MORE PLACES TO STAY » If camping doesn't float your boat, there are lots of hotel options nearby in Twentynine Palms, Joshua Tree, and Yucca Valley. If those places are booked up, you can find even more options in Desert Hot Springs and Palm Springs, but expect at least an hour drive to the race!
Restaurants & Activities
Yucca Valley is the economic heart of the Joshua Tree Gateway Communities, and our friends at the Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce have rounded up some of the best hotels, restaurants and shops providing special promotions for the Joshua Tree Half Marathon! Be sure to stop by their website and check out all of the businesses excited to welcome us to town!
Parking & Shuttles
JOSHUA TREE LAKE RV & CAMPGROUND » The race expo, start line, and finish line will all be at Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground in Joshua Tree, CA. There will be plenty of parking for everyone at the campground. We will not be offering any shuttles from the surrounding towns, so please plan accordingly!
STROLLERS, WHEELCHAIRS, AND HEADLAMPS » The 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.
Race Day Schedule
10:00 AM » The race expo opens and bib pickup begins!
4:30 PM » Race expo closes
5:30 PM » Bib pickup ends!
6:00 PM » Runners line up
6:10 PM » National Anthem
6:15 PM » Race starts!
8:30 PM » Awards Ceremony
Club Hikes & Trifecta
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:
- A clear view of your face
- Your bib with bib numbers clearly visible
- Your finisher medal in plain view
- 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.
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.
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.
49 Palms Club (alternative to Oasis Club)
UPDATE: Lost Palms Oasis recently got washed out from rainfall and the trail is no longer accessible.
The alternative hike is called 49 Palms. The trail leads to a collection of palm trees wrapped around a rare spring. This is a shorter hike but a great alternative as hikers view the 49 Palms Canyon as you near the turnaround point. Take your photo at at the end of the trail before you turn around.
Joshua Tree Trifecta
For those looking for something less strenuous, we have the Joshua Tree Trifecta! The Trifecta is comprised of 3 different activities. You must complete all 3 in order to complete the Trifecta. The Trifecta is meant to be challenging, but less strenuous. These are iconic activities inside the park that should be experienced, but are doable with children. The 3 activities that makeup the Trifecta are:
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.
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.
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).
2018 Post-race Info
If you see that you placed, but didn't stick around for the awards ceremony, no worries! You can request to have your place medal shipped to you!
If you have questions about your placement or results, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Race photos are available the Friday following the week of the race. We will send out an email when they're posted to the album as well as place the link above. This year we are offering race photos FREE to all our runners!
Award ceremony photos are posted within a week of the race. You can find a link to the award 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!
Exclusive Joshua Tree Half Marathon merchandise is available in our online store.