Yellowstone Half Marathon Details

June 12–13, 2020  |  West Yellowstone, MT

Race Details

Training

We are pleased to share a FREE half marathon training program customized for this course to help you prepare. We've teamed up with Active at Altitude as the Official Training Partner to offer 2 levels of training: 

  • Beginner program (16 weeks)
  • Intermediate program (12 weeks)

These programs are free and are sent via e-newsletter every 4 weeks. 


Race Weekend Schedule

Friday
11:00 am – Race Expo & Bib Pickup
6:00 pm –  Vendors Close
7:00 pm – Race Expo Ends // 5K starts

Saturday
5:00 am – Open starting line parking. Runners can pick up bibs.
5:30 am – First prize raffle (every 5 minutes)
5:38 am –  Sunrise
6:15 am – All cars should be parked & last call for bib pickup
6:30 am – Last prize raffle. Parking lot closes. Pacers line up.
6:45 am – Runners line up at the start line. Last call for gear check.
6:55 am – National Anthem.
7:00 am – Race Starts! All divisions.
9:45 am – Awards ceremony.
11:00 am – Race finish cutoff.


Bib & Packet Pickup Options

You have a couple of options for picking up your bib and race packet including at the Race Expo, the Start Line, 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.

Registration includes, a bib, race guide, race shirt, a hydrapouch (if chosen), a finishers medal and a finisher's food box.

Your choices to pick up your packet are:

Race Expo (recommended)

We’re having the Yellowstone Half Expo just outside West Yellowstone near Jeep Trail and Old Airport Road on the Friday before the race from 11am – 7pm. Expo vendors will be there until 6:00pm. The expo will be in the same location as the start and finish line, in the field on Old Airport Rd. The expo will likely be small, but we’ll have some awesome vendors and our Vacation Races Campground, complete with marshmallow roasting and stuff for s’mores!

Race Morning

We will have limited race morning packet pickup. The race starts very early, so having to worry about getting your bib on race morning will only add unneeded stress to your life. But we know sometimes it just cant be avoided. If it can be avoided, please do not pick your packet up the morning of the race. Bib pickup on race morning will be right next to the starting line. The race starts at 7:00 am. You will have until 6:30 am to pick up your packet, so please get there early!

Shipped to You ($20 - US addresses only)

If you'd like we can ship you bib and shirt to you before race day. We do this as a convenience for runners can't drive to West Yellowstone early. There is a cost of $20 for this option.

Restrictions
- Only available before the final price jump
- Not available for addresses outside the US
- Bibs will be mailed priority approximately 2 weeks before the race.

🚨 Note: Once your package is shipped, you're officially checked into the race and no longer qualify for a refund, deferment, or transfer

Bring Your Own Bag
In our ongoing effort to eliminate waste we encourage you to bring your own bag to hold you bib, race shirt, and any goodies you pick up at the race exp.

Race Shirts
If you're unhappy with the fit of your race shirt, or couldn't order the size you wanted we'll host a shirt exchange at the finish line on race day. Note that sizes and quantities will be limited.

Spectators

Because the course is mostly off the main road, it isn’t a very spectator friendly course. Spectators are welcome at the starting line, and the finish line.

There are no vehicles allowed on the course. The only vehicle allowed on the course will be for a medical emergency. Deciding you don’t want to run anymore is not an emergency.

Parking

We will have plenty of parking to accommodate all of our runners. All the hotels are a short walk from the start line if you are staying in town and feel like walking. Parking will be across from Iris St. on Old Airport Rd just outside West Yellowstone by the start line. We will have a raffle in the morning and plenty of hot chocolate/coffee.

No camping in the parking lot.

Cup-free Hydration

Like all of our courses, the Yellowstone 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.


5K Course

The race starts at 7:00pm sharp on Friday, following the Race Expo. Our expo will be in the same place as the start line (the field next to Old Airport Road). 5K runners will have until 6:30pm to pick up their bibs so that we can get you all lined up and ready to go!

There will be one aid station on the course near the halfway point (mile 1.5). The aid station will have water, Gnarly, and bathrooms. Like the half marathon, this race will be cupless!

Half Marathon Course

The race will start and end at the Old Airport on the west edge of West Yellowstone. There is a ton of parking there and it is easy walking distance from many hotels on the south side of town.

The the majority of the race takes place on a dirt road and trail in Gallatin National Forest immediately southwest of West Yellowstone, MT.

The course starts flat but has a major and a minor hill that you need to train for. (See the map and elevation profile.) The best part of the course is that you will be less than a mile from the west park entrance.

Terrain
The whole race is on a dirt road (depending on weather, there may be puddles). 

Detailed Description

  • The first three miles will be a loop, partially through town, and partially on trail just outside of town.
  • Miles 3-4 are pretty flat and straight as you head towards the hills.
  • At mile 5 is where it really starts to get pretty, and challenging. You run over a beautiful bridge that crosses the South Fork Madison River and really start to enter the forest.
  • Mile 6 is the most challenging section. You will start running uphill and in the 6th mile you will gain about 200 feet in elevation. Thick forest on either side. If you have to use bear spray it will be in this section (just kidding, but not really). You then start to flatten out and then enter a downhill.
  • The course gets more technical around mile 7 with some rocks and a less defined path. The course will be clearly marked, but those in the front will feel like you are running through some weeds.
  • Mile 8 is real fast down hill. Continues to be technical and weedy.
  • Mile 9-10 is downhill for bit an then starts to flatten out a bit as you enter some really beautiful area.
  • At mile 11 there is a slight hill that will feel big if you are not ready for it. Its only a 40-50 foot gain, but it's later in the race.
  • Mile 12 to the finish will be slightly downhill or flat.

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: Samuel Stow  1:22:12 (2018)
Female Overall: Bailey Parker  1:27:36 (2016)
Male Masters: 
Jerome Bowles  1:34:08 (2017)
Female Masters: 
Lisa Buohler  1:43:55 (2016)

Aid Stations

Expect about 6 aid stations on the course beginning around mile 3. Aid stations include toilets, water, Gnarly electrolyte drink, 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


REGISTRATION IS OPEN!
SIGN UP NOW & GET THE BEST PRICE

54
Days
16
Hours
31
Minutes
31
Seconds

Registration Periods

Early: Aug. 16 – Oct. 13
Regular:  Oct. 14 – Mar. 15, 2020
Late: Mar. 16, 2020 – Race Expo

*There is a limited number of entries to each race, and this event may sell out. If the event is sold out, registration will close regardless of registration period.

Double & Quad Events

So just running a half marathon isn't enough for you huh? You must be hardcore. Try the Bison Double on for size. 

Just running each individual race does not qualify you for the Double medals. You need to register for the Double specifically. Each registration includes race entry, high quality race shirts for each race, a finisher medal for each event, a special bonus finisher medal for whichever challenge you complete, PLUS your choice of swag to commemorate your accomplishment! We’ll have a tech tee, a cotton shirt, a sweatshirt, a hat, etc, for you to choose from when you pick up your bib!

Bison Double

The Bison Double consists of doing both the Yellowstone 5K on Friday evening and the Yellowstone Half Marathon on Saturday morning for a total of 16.2 miles in 24 hours. 

Race Days: June 12 & 13, 20​20
Location: West Yellowstone, MT
What you get:

  • 1 Yellowstone tech race shirt
  • 1 special Bison Double swag item (You will be able to choose from several items like a shirt, hat, sweatshirt, etc. Swag items are subject to availability.)
  • 3 finisher medals (1 half marathon medal, 1 5K medal, and 1 special Bison Double medal!)

Bison Double medals and swag must be earned, they can't be bought!

New Double and Quad Events!

TWO WEEKENDS - TWO PARKS!
Grand Teton National Park is very close to Yellowstone National Park and we HIGHLY recommend visiting both parks if you are able. ​
If you aren't familiar with our events that have 5K distances in addition to a half marathon, runners can sign up for both and earn extra swag and an extra medal. We call these "doubles". In 2020, our Grand Teton and Yellowstone events will take place on back-to-back weekends in June!

With two half marathons and two 5K races, we have some exciting news. We are introducing a new QUADRUPLE! That's signing up and running all 4 events. If you sign up for the quadruple you are essentially doing the Grand Teton Half & 5K and the Yellowstone Half & 5K. Runners get some Quadruple swag, and an extra Quadruple medal- That's 5 medals total!
Here are all the options:

Moose Double
Grand Teton Half Marathon & Grand Teton 5K
Runners earn: Moose Double swag + 2 finisher medals (1 for each race) + 1 Moose Double medal

Bison Double
Yellowstone Half Marathon & Yellowstone 5K
Runners earn: Bison Double swag + 2 finisher medals (1 for each race) + 1 Bison Double medal

Grizzly Double
Grand Teton Half Marathon & Yellowstone Half Marathon
Runners earn: Grizzly Double swag + 2 finisher medals (1 for each race) + 1 Grizzly Double medal

Grand Quad
Grand Teton Half Marathon, Grand Teton 5K, Yellowstone Half Marathon, & Yellowstone 5K
Runners earn: Grand Quad swag + 4 finisher medals (1 for each race) + 1 Grand Quad medal

Note: If you've run with us in the past, you may recall the Caldera Triple. With the new Grand Teton 5K and the quadruple added, we've retired the Caldera Triple for now. 

Travel Information

Before we get into specifics… be sure the check out The National Park Service’s “Planning Your Trip” page. It’s packed with useful tips. You can also get lots of info on travel and lodging in West Yellowstone on the Destination Yellowstone website.

Where to Fly

If you plan to fly West Yellowstone Airport, Bozeman International Airport, and Jackson Hole Airport are your best options. West Yellowstone Airport will take you directly the host town. However flight availability will be limited. Both Jackson Hole and Bozeman require driving time to West Yellowstone, but you may have less trouble finding flights that fit your travel needs.

West Yellowstone (WYS)

  • Distance: Local
  • Rental Services: Yes

If you can find a good flight in, West Yellowstone will definitely be the most convenient option.


The airport has several car rental agencies on site, so transportation to and from the airport is absolutely no problem, even if your lodging isn’t in the immediate vicinity.

Bozeman (BZN)

  • Distance: 2 hours
  • Rental Services: Yes

Bozeman is a little less than a two hour drive to West Yellowstone (via Gallatin Road), but you can rent a car on site.

Jackson Hole (JAC)

  • Distance: 2½ hours
  • Rental Services: Yes

Jackson Hole is a two and a half hour drive to West Yellowstone. You’ll drive through Jackson, WY, cross the state border to Driggs, MT, and connect with Route 20 to West Yellowstone. They also offer on site car rentals.


Driving Directions

Driving is a little tricky since no interstates go through West Yellowstone.

From the West coast:
If you’re driving from the west coast, you’ll take I-80 or I-84 going east. You’ll then connect with I-15, heading north to Route 20.

From the Southwest:
Go North on I-15 and then get on Highway 20 (Northbound) in Idaho Falls.

From the East:
There are two general routes you can take from the Eastern U.S., depending on where you start from. You can take I-90 West to Gallatin Road. Take Gallatin Road South, right to West Yellowstone.

OR You could take I-80 West and connect with Route 287 which will take you to West Yellowstone through extremely scenic Grand Teton National Park. There are probably faster ways to get to Yellowstone, but this is for sure the prettiest option.

Where to Stay

You can find the perfect lodging in town for you and your party on the Destination Yellowstone website.

Other Lodging Options
Whether you prefer a hotel, the convenience of a home-like living space, or want to be a part of the great outdoors there's an option for you! There are a few companies we've partnered with to search for the best options in the area for hotels, vacation rentals, and camping areas:

Hotels

Booking.com Logo

Where to Eat

We'll have partner restaurants once we get closer to race weekend!

Things To Do

Club Hikes

To help you make the most out of your visit to Yellowstone National Park, we've put together some recommended "Club Hikes" and a "Trifecta". Do these with 72 hours after the race and you can earn free Vacation Races memorabilia. 

Washburn Club

Mt. Washburn is located in the northeast section of the park. The views from the lookout are some of the best in all the park.

After leaving the parking lot at Dunraven Pass you’ll have a bird’s-eye view of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Hayden Valley, and the Grand Tetons farther to the south. The trail has several switchbacks, offering different and unique views.

The trail is likely to have some spots covered in snow (around mile 2.5 is where the most snow-pack is). It should still be hikeable, but you should check conditions before attempting this hike. Snow-pack might make it very difficult.

Osprey Club

The hike to Osprey Falls starts 5 miles south of Mammoth on the Old Bunsen Peak Road Trail and is 8 miles round trip. The trail follows the old roadbed for 2.5 miles through grassland and burnt forest. The trail veers off the old road and follows the rim of Sheepeater Canyon before descending in a series of switchbacks to the bottom. There are about 11 switchbacks in total, amounting to a mile of trail. The switchbacks are VERY thin, sometimes less than a foot wide. The trail ends about 30 feet from the falls, but previous hikers say you can hike to the base of the falls if you’re cautious.

You should bring way more water than you think you need. The altitude is high and the climate is dry. We would also recommend starting earlier in the day

Yellowstone Trifecta

Yellowstone Trifecta Pin

Looking for something less strenuous? Introducing the Yellowstone 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:

  1. Old Faithful
  2. See Bison in the Park
  3. Artist Point (Grand Canyon of Yellowstone)

You must complete all 3 in order to complete the Trifecta. Same rules apply: take your picture at each of the 3 with your bib and finisher medal and send them to us 72 hours after finishing the race. Those who complete the Trifecta will receive a commemorative pin!

Old Faithful
Old Faithful

Watch Old Faithful Erupt!

Old Faithful is the most famous and celebrated geyser in the world. The 1870 Washburn Expedition camped near Old Faithful and discovered the geyser had frequent and regular eruptions over 100 feet. They dubbed the geyser Old Faithful. It erupts once approximately every 45 to 90 minutes, depending on the duration of the previous eruption. Schedules for predicted eruptions are posted in the NPS buildings near Old Faithful.

See Bison in the Park
Bison

You can’t leave Yellowstone without seeing bison! Yellowstone is the only place in the U.S. where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times.

While you might be able to find bison in any area of Yellowstone, check out Lamar Valley for a variety of wildlife viewing! Lamar Valley is a wide, expansive valley in sort of a remote north-eastern corner of the park. Take your picture with a bison... but do not approach the animals!

Artist Point
Artist Point

Artist Point is just a short hike off of south rim drive, and offers very popular and iconic views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Lower Falls.

Club Hike Prizes & Requirements

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 take 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
Trifecta Prizes & Requirements

You must complete all 3 in order to complete the Trifecta. Same rules apply: take your picture at each of the 3 with your bib and finisher medal and send them to us* 72 hours after finishing the race. Those who complete the Trifecta will receive a commemorative pin!

Please combine all 3 trifecta photos into one image file before submitting your entry to the Trifecta. You can download this app to make a collage of your photos on your iPhone or Android.

Past Race Results & Photos

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 timing@vacationraces.com.


Photos

Race Photos
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 below. This year we are offering race photos FREE to all our runners!

Share your experiences with us! 
Be sure to use #YellowstoneHalf 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 Yellowstone Half Marathon merchandise is available in our online store.

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Questions & Comments

  • Mike says:

    Hi, I understand that the course is on a dirt road, but is the race stroller-friendly? Our little one is used to being off-road and would be great if we could do the race as a family. Thanks for any info!

    • Kaelee Clifford says:

      Hi Mike – This course really isn’t stroller friendly. I’ve run it and when it says in the course description that there is a major climb, less defined path, rocky and weedy sections it means it. We don’t recommend taking a stroller on this course.

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