Zion at Night
Small Group Half Marathon
One cannot say they've experienced all the best things in life until they've basked in the solitude of the desert. And what better way to do that, than to run Zion at night!
After our beta test of small group half marathons, we are excited to bring you another chance for desert running in Southern Utah. This course is challenging, but is not exclusive to experienced runners. Keep in mind, this is a trail race, and you'll be running in the dark, so don your headlamp and get ready to run under the stars in Zion!
There will be no expo, but you can pick up your bib just before your race time (up to 30 minutes before your time slot) near the start line in Virgin, UT
Date: Friday & Saturday, Sept. 18-19, 2020
Starts/Ends: 6:00 pm - 8:00 am each night in Virgin, UT
Weather: 50° – 82°F
Course Type: Loop
Stroller friendly? No
Spectators allowed? No
Dogs allowed? No
Registration & Pricing
$110 - For time slots between 6pm-midnight and 5am-8am
$99 - For time slots between midnight-4am
Because of the nature of a short time period from registration date to the event date, no refunds will be offered. However, you can defer to another race.
Want to use a deferred credit?
Login to RunSignup, click Deferrals, Complete Deferments
Runners will sign up to run their half marathon during a specific time slot. Each time slot allows up to 50 runners in each race. Beginning at 6 pm on Friday, September 18, 2020, a new race will begin every half hour until 8 am the next morning.
This race will be at NIGHT. Running through the desert outside Zion under the stars and a new moon with the towering canyon peaks and mesas silhouetted in the distance will be an unforgettable experience. Explore Zion by day, run it at night.
This is a very runnable route through the desert outside Zion National Park. The first 2 miles run along a dirt trail parallel to Hwy 9 past the town of Virgin (please stay on the trail in the shoulder and far away from the busy Hwy). You will then turn left onto Sheep Bridge Rd for about a half mile before jumping on the single track of the JEM Trail for about 3 miles. The first aid station is at about mile 3 and the second is near mile 5.5 at the Virgin Desert Aid Station. The route then follows a double track trail that runs through the desert along the rim of the Virgin River.
This is a trail half marathon. The terrain is mostly hard packed dirt road, some loose gravel, and some mild rolling ups and downs. It is very runnable and not terribly technical, but it is trail and a mix of single track and double track. The aid stations are fewer and more spread out than our normal races, and this is a cup free event. Runners should plan to be more self-supported than they may be used to. We will have three aid stations (mile 2.8, 5.6, and 10.6), but runners must bring their own means of refilling hydration (handheld water bottle, hydration pack, belt, etc.). The course will be well marked, but it will not be lit. Although the moon may provide some lighting, every runner should bring their own headlamp. It is also recommended that you run with trail shoes if you have them.
Aid Stations: 3
Time Limit: 4 hours
Course Map & Elevation
Now you can use our maps offline with a gps-enabled device!
We plan to mark the course with such rigor that you should not need your own map to help you find your way. However, we have experienced blown down signs and vandalism in the past. Besides, it will be dark after all. We recommend downloading the free Avenza app (available for iOS, and Android devices) before the event. There you can find our uploaded maps that work without cell coverage.
1. Download the free app "AVENZA MAPS" to your smart-phone or tablet while your device is online. It’s compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows devices.
2. Open the app > Tap "Store" (Shopping Cart Icon) > Tap "Find Maps" > Search for the following:
Zion at Night Half Marathon
3. Tap on the label on the map > tap "install" and the map will begin to download.
4. The map is now ready to use “offline”. Simply open the app, click on the Map and your GPS location will appear on the map.
Once you've installed the app, tap below to directly download the race map!
The event will be timed. The first race will begin at 6 pm, with a new race continuing every 30 minutes until 8 am the next morning. Each race will have a rolling start to help spread out runners. Due to the nature of varying start times over two days, 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
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.
• 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 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.
• No spectators. It's not only difficult to see runners along the course, we also need to prevent crowds- even at the finish line.
• Physical distancing of 6 ft. will be enforced.
• When passing on course, do so with consideration and communication.
• Runners should bring a mask for times when they might not be able to properly distance themselves from one another.
• Staff will be wearing masks, and we will be modifying several elements to the event in order to prevent overcrowding and ensure safety for everyone.
• A headlamp, flashlight or some sort of light is required. This race takes place at night! The course will be marked, but not lit.
• Trail shoes aren't required, but highly recommended.
• This is a cup free event. Though the race will have 3 aid stations, runners will need to bring their own form of hydration to refill. Hydrapouches will NOT be offered.
Explore the Park
Whether before or after the race, discover Zion's majesty!
Zion National Park is a southwest Utah nature preserve distinguished by Zion Canyon’s steep red cliffs. Zion Canyon Scenic Drive cuts through its main section, leading to forest trails along the Virgin River. The river flows to the Emerald Pools, which have waterfalls and a hanging garden. Also along the river, partly through deep chasms, is Zion Narrows wading hike.
Video courtesy of Amazing Places on Our Planet
Pricing and Packages
Sign up today to get the time slot you want!
*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.
Race Deferment & Credit
You can manage your deferred credit by logging in to RunSignup, clicking Deferrals, and Complete Deferment. From there you can transfer into another race.
The race takes place just a few minutes south of Zion National Park in Virgin, UT. Runners will park near the start/finish off of Camino Del Rio, prior to running a loop course in the desert. There are no shuttles for this race.
We imagine the majority of runners will be driving to this event, but if you are allowed and able to fly, look for flights into:
- St. George Regional Airport (SGU)
- McCarran International Airport (LAS)
- Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)
- Cedar City Regional Airport (CDC)
From Las Vegas
Head north on Interstate-15 through Nevada to enter Utah. Take exit 16 in Washington, UT onto Highway 9. Take Hwy 9 all the way to Virgin, UT (you will take a right at 500 N in La Verkin, UT to stay on Hwy 9).
From Salt Lake City
Head south on Interstate-15 toward southern Utah. Take exit 27 in Toquerville, UT. Continue on UT-17 through Toquerville and turn left onto Highway 9 (500 N) in La Verkin, UT. Continue on Hwy 9 all the way to Virgin, UT.
We recommend staying in Springdale, UT but La Verkin or Hurricane have lots of options as well. Other good sources for planning your stay include the A to Zion website, and the NPS website.
There are many hotel options in the area, but please plan accordingly for travel time to get to the start line for your race's time slot! The race start is located in Virgin, UT. There are numerous hotels near the south entrance of Zion National Park.
We recommend looking for lodging in the following towns:
If camping is more your style you can find dispersed camping in the area around the race on the BLM website, here.
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.
Results from the June 5-7 event can be found here.
Zion Explorer Club - Scavenger Hunt
If you’ve run any of the National Park half marathons, you’re probably familiar with our “club hikes” program. If runners complete these iconic hikes inside the National Park within 72 hours of finishing their race they can receive a medallion that resembles an official US NGS survey marker “benchmark”. We also have our “Trifecta” which earns you a small pin by doing a few less strenuous activities.
The “Explorer Club” is a new iteration of this. We want you to have as broad or as deep of an experience with Zion National Park and the surrounding area as possible. We have created a scavenger hunt made up of all kinds of adventures and experiences you can have here at Zion. Each item is worth a certain number of points (with opportunities to “level-up”). Earn enough points and you earn yourself the official Zion Explorer badge! This scavenger hunt has so many of our favorites in it, whether you have an afternoon or a week in Zion you should be able to plan an amazing itinerary with these suggestions.
-A minimum of 1,500 points (any more earned gets you bragging rights!)
-All items must be checked off during your trip to Zion for the Zion at Night race.
-Post your favorite photos on social media with the hashtags: #zionatnight #zionexplorer
-Report your score within 72 hours of the end of the race (Wednesday morning) here.
-Enjoy these activities and the park responsibly - you are an explorer, not an obnoxious tourist!
We are running this race at night for a few reasons:
- The trails are crowded with mountain bikers and others recreating during the day. Running at night allows us to cut down on congestion and crowding.
- The temperatures in Southern Utah this time of year are triple digits. Nighttime will be cooler, comfortable running weather.
- Running at night will be unique and beautiful.
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 not allowed at the finish
- Water stations will be hands free, with individual packets of Gnarly Hydrate (electrolyte drink) so there is no risk of contamination.
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.
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).
Just like our other half marathon events, runners will have 4 hours to finish the race.
Though this course will have fewer aid stations than our typical half marathon events, we will have an aid station set up near mile 2.8, 5.6, and 10.6. These aid stations will have water, individual packets of Gnarly Hydrate (to mix your own electrolyte drink), 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.
For now, probably. The race industry is changing, but no one is sure how much and for how long. For the foreseeable future this is how we intend to hold events so that we can comply with guidelines and restrictions. We will likely learn things from this new experiment that will impact our other events, but these aren’t meant as a replacement. This is just a way to get us out there running and exploring for the time being.
Yes! You may use a deferment code/deferment credit from another race to run the Zion at Night (Small Group Half Marathon).
Remember- due to the compressed timeline, there are no pricing jumps, thus no refunds will be offered.