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Zion at Night Half Marathon

Run by moonlight as you take in the solitude of the desert. A half marathon that runs through the night - choose your time and run on top of Gooseberry Mesa overlooking the desert floor below with views of Zion. Introduced in 2020 this small group half marathon style is back by popular demand, but with a new course!
  • Location: Apple Valley, UT
  • Date: September 24-25, 2021 
  • Terrain: Dirt trail
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Sept. 24-25, 2021

Apple Valley, UT

Difficulty:

Mixed Road & Trail

Lollipop Loop

  • Quick Info

  • Travel & Lodging

  • Explore The Park

  • Registration is closed!

Race Info

First Start: 6:00 pm Sept. 24th

Last Start: 7:00 am Sept. 25th


*Rolling Starts: Runners will sign up to run their half marathon during a specific time slot. Each time slot allows up to 150 runners in each race. Beginning at 6 pm on Friday, September 24, 2021, a new race will begin every half hour until 7 am the next morning.


Start Line & Bib Pickup

There will be no expo, but you can pick up your bib near the start line just before your race time (up to 30 minutes before your time slot)


Start/Finish Line:

Ruby Rider Ranch

Apple Valley, UT

Parking available

The Course

Required equipment: Personal headlamp or light to navigate the trail

More Race Guidelines


Weather: 82/48°F
Course Type: Lollipop Loop 


Spectators? Start/Finish line only

Stroller friendly? No
Dogs allowed? No

This race will be at NIGHT. Running through the desert outside Zion 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 Zion by day – run it at night.

Course Photos

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


Note: The majority of the race takes place at night and becomes quite remote and difficult to access. For that reason, race photos will not be offered at this event. 

GET INVOLVED

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.

Zion at Night Details

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

Course Details
Course Description

Run on some of the most famous trails of southern Utah atop Gooseberry Mesa. Just located southwest of Zion National Park, panoramic views of Virgin, Zion, and even Kolob Fingers can be seen from the mesa. This is a trail half marathon. The terrain is a mix of dirt roads, slickrock, and single track trail as you weave in and out of trees, catching glimpses of beautiful desert landscapes, and breathtaking views. Experience the quiet of the desert in a special opportunity to run either at sunset, under complete moonlight, or as the sun rises-- you choose your start time! Experience Zion at Night unlike any other trail race. 

Just west of Smithsonian Butte, runners will start out from the Ruby Rider Ranch in Apple Valley, UT. You will head out toward Gooseberry Mesa on a wide dirt road. Your first aid station will be at about mile 3.8 near the Gooseberry Mesa parking area. Please stick to the right side of the road as there may be fellow runners heading back to the finish line (depending on your start time), and we want to minimize each of you from blinding/flashing each other with your headlamps. You will continue on this road for another 1.5 miles before veering left onto the Windmill Trail. The climb may look daunting, but from the start line to the highest point on the course is less than 450 ft. of gain.

The Windmill Trail is a single track section that skirts the northwest edge of Gooseberry mesa granting amazing views of the Virgin Desert below. You will be running on slick rock, but contrary to the name, it is not slick unless there is a thin layer of gravel on the surface or if it gets wet. It’s actually hard sandstone. Watch your footing and take your time- if you are new to trail running, you may find it challenging to find a rhythm in the sections of slick rock throughout the course between miles 6-8. Slow down and enjoy the experience. 

*Trail markings: Pay attention to trail markings for the race. We will use pink ribbon bundled with reflective tape to indicate the trail. There will also be arrows pointing you in the right direction at any major turns, and Wrong Way signs indicating that you should turn around to get back on course. There may be a few sections where the course runs along the same path as mountain biking trails. These mountain biking trails are often marked with white dots painted on the slick rock to help bikers navigate. Don’t get side-tracked following the white dots. Though you may see both white dots and pink ribbons simultaneously- KEEP FOLLOWING THE PINK RIBBON.  

At mile 6.3 there will be a water-only station. Be sure to top off your fluids in your bottles and packs here and continue on the Windmill trail until it runs into the North Rim Trail. There will be arrows and trail markings to turn right, where you will run on the North Rim Trail for just .3 miles. You will take a left on a short connector trail to get you onto the White Road Trail. This section consists of mostly hard packed dirt with a few rocky sections. Some of the roads can get pretty rutted depending on recent rains, so be sure to watch your step as you start to descend. 

The White Road will wrap up the loop portion of the course as you return to the same aid station as before. This aid station at mile 9.7 will be your final chance to refuel before heading back toward the finish. 

Continue back on the dirt road heading southeast as you follow the same path you originally ran out on. Please stay to the right in an effort to not blind/flash oncoming runners with your headlamp or flashlight. Better yet, take this opportunity to dim your headlamp; turn it to the red light; or turn it off altogether and enjoy the night sky. For most, your vision will adjust to the dark- but use your judgement and stay safe. This section overall, is fairly mild but you may pick up speed as you descend- so be cautious and slow down if you need to. This course is a little longer than 13.1. At about mile 13.2 you will reach a T in the road. Cross the cattle-guard, make a right turn and head south for a few hundred yards before turning right into the finish line chute at Ruby Rider Ranch. 

Aid Stations: 2 full aid stations, 1 water-only station

Time Limit: 4 hrs.

Timing

The event will be timed. The first race will begin at 6 pm, with a new race continuing every 30 minutes until 7 am the next morning. Each race will have a rolling start to help spread out runners. Due to the nature of varying start times through the night, we will not have an official awards ceremony. After the event, we will verify and mail out age group awards to the top 5 in each of the following age groups: 11 & under, 12-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70 & up

Course Records

We have a new course this year, so there are no current record holders! All Overall and Masters top finisher places are up for grabs :)

Aid Stations

The aid stations for this race are fewer and more spread out - it is important that you plan to be more self-sufficient with nutrition and hydration than at our other half marathons.

Expect 3 aid stations on the course at mile 3.8, 6.3 (water and bathrooms only), and 9.7. The aid stations for this race are fewer and more spread out - it is important that you plan to be more self-sufficient with nutrition and hydration than at our other half marathons.

Aid stations at mile 3.8 and 9.7 include toilets, water, Gnarly Hydrate, Honey Stinger gels, and basic first aid supplies. 

All stations are cup-free so plan to bring your own hydration solution. We will NOT have hydrapouches for runners at the race.

Additional Details

Rules & Safety Guidelines

Race Rules and Etiquette

Safety Guidelines:

• In order to put on the event, we are following Utah's state and local guidelines for the health and safety of the general public. Runners assume the risk inherent in public gatherings.

• Runners may want to bring a mask for times when they might not be able to properly distance themselves from one another.

Etiquette:

• A headlamp, flashlight or some sort of light is required. This race takes place at night! The course will be marked, but not lit. This is both for your safety and that of the other runners.

• When passing on course, do so with consideration and communication.

• Trail shoes aren't required, but highly recommended.

Race Logistics:

• Runners may arrive no earlier than 30 minutes prior to their assigned start time, and can start no later than 30 minutes after their assigned start time. Each race will have a rolling start to help disperse runners, avoid congregation, and thin the crowds. 

• This is not a spectator-friendly course. Spectators may meet their runner at the finish line, but are discouraged from hanging around while the runner is out on course. We need to prevent crowds- even at the finish line.

• This is a cup free event. This race will have only 3 aid stations. Runners will need to bring their own form of hydration to refill. Hydrapouches will NOT be offered.

• Due to the nature of this event and how start times are spread out through the night, we will not be offering race photography at this race.

Swag

You will receive a personalized bib and a race shirt before the race, and a glow in the dark finisher's medal upon finishing your race. Runners will also receive a food box at the finish line. No Hydrapouch will be given- runners must bring their own means of hydration to refill at the aid stations and finish line. 

Bib Pickup (no expo!)

Zion at Night does not have a race expo before the event. Instead, runners have the following choices:

Option #1: Race Morning 
Since we have no expo at Zion at Night, you can pick up your bib near the start line just before your race time. Please do not come significantly early. You should plan to pick up your bib packet up to 30mins before your starting time slot.

Option #2: 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.

Race Schedule 

This event takes places from the evening of Friday, September 24 into the morning of Saturday, September 25th. All portions of the event will take place at Ruby Rider Ranch in Apple Valley, UT.

FRIDAY (24th)

5:15 PM - Parking lot opens

6:00 PM - First runner wave starts (30 min window)

6:30 PM - Second runner wave starts

Waves Cont'd...*

7:26 PM - Sunset


* Each wave has a 30min window to start. New waves will begin every 30mins through the night.

SATURDAY (25th)

6:30 AM - Last runner wave arrives

7:00 AM - Last runner wave starts

7:23 AM - Sunrise

7:30 AM - Start line closes 

12:30 PM - All runners must be off the course


Start line & parking

Parking at the Start/Finish Line

All parking will be near the start/finish area of the race, located at Ruby Rider Ranch in Apple Valley, UT 

Please do not arrive and park earlier than 30 minutes before your assigned start time.

Vehicles will enter and exit at the south entrance. When parking, please follow the directions of any staff or volunteers on-site to park in an orderly manner. Vehicles will be coming and going throughout the night, and many will be returning to their vehicles after the race, in the dark. Your cooperation in maintaining an organized parking lot will be essential.

Runner Drop-off

Runners being dropped off can come directly to the staging & parking area. Vehicles should then immediately exit and head toward Hwy 59.

Start and Finish line layout

Spectators

We expect to welcome spectators back to Zion at Night this year! 

However, due to the remote nature of the event (and the fact that it will be nighttime...) we ask spectators to ONLY attend the start and finish line area to greet their runner. You'll be able to park at Ruby Rider Ranch in Apple Valley, UT.

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

All Vacation Races events are "cup-free". 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 - you can fill these up at any aid station and at the start/finish

2. Hydrapouch - These handheld cups clip onto your clothes and are our recommended choice! 

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

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.

Toilets

When possible, we also use Great Outdoors Composting Portable Toilets which conserve water, eliminates the use of harmful chemicals, and create a nutrient rich soil amenity. It is the best pooping experience you will ever have. To learn more or to have them at your event visit GreatOutdoorsToilets.com or ask the race officials for more information.

Compost Toilets GO
Race Results and Awards
Race Results

Because of the nature of our timing system for this event, results won't be instantly available. Please allow about 48 hours for us to get the results posted online.

Since start times will stretch through the night, we will not have an official awards ceremony. After the event, we will verify and mail out age group awards to the top 5 in each of the following age groups: 11 & under, 12-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70 & up

Results from the 2020 event can be found here

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

Photos

We do not offer free race photos for this event - the majority of the race takes place at night and becomes quite remote and difficult to access. For that reason, we do not have a photographer on course.

Share your experiences with us! 
Be sure to use #ZionatNightHalf 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 Zion at Night Half 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.

Zion at Night FAQ

Why is this event at night?

While we initially launched this night-time race to offer you a race that would avoid crowds, we've kept it for a few reasons:

  • The temperatures in Southern Utah this time of year can be hot. Nighttime will be cooler, comfortable running weather.
  • Running at night will be unique and beautiful! This is a chance to experience the sheer awe of the night sky.

Is it safe?

We understand the concerns regarding COVID19. This event complies with local health and safety guidelines and is permitted with the appropriate agencies. We are taking every consideration to make this a fun, enjoyable experience while also prioritizing health and safety. Among other precautions, a few steps we have taken to ensure compliance are:

  • Social distancing will be facilitated and runners should wear face masks when distancing is not possible
  • Spectators are discouraged from being at the finish
  • Water stations will be hands-free, with a foot pedal system to dispense water and Gnarly Hydrate (electrolyte drink).

What kind of swag will be at Zion at Night?

Each runner will receive a race shirt and an individualized bib. All finishers will receive a glow in the dark finisher medal as well.

There will be age group awards, but no awards ceremony at the event. These will be mailed out after the race.

When should I show up?

Runners can show up as early as 30 minutes BEFORE their scheduled start time (and should not arrive any earlier). They may also start their race with our rolling start up to 30 minutes AFTER their scheduled start time (but should start no later).

How long do I have to complete the race?

Just like our other half marathon events, runners will have 4 hours to finish the race. 

What will be at the aid stations?

Though this course will have fewer aid stations than our typical half marathon events, we will have an aid station set up near mile 3.8, and 9.7, with a water-only station in the middle at mile 6.3. The aid stations will have water, Gnarly Hydrate, and Honey Stinger Gels. Aid stations will also have composting toilets.

Reminder - runners will need to carry their own form of hydration to refill at aid stations. Hydrapouches will not be provided.

Can I use a deferment code from another VR event for this race?

Yes! You may use a deferment code/deferment credit from another race to run the Zion at Night (Half Marathon). If you have previously transferred from another race already, you will need to contact customer service to get a new deferment code to transfer to this race.

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