Location: Bryce Canyon National Park; Bryce Canyon City, Utah
Trail Type: Mountain Single Track
Host: Ultra Adventures
Atmosphere: Each distance has its own unique beginning in terms of weather. The longer the distance, the earlier the race time starts. Because of this the longer distances started in cooler conditions. However, all distances by mid-morning started to suffer with record breaking heat. Additionally, this is classified as a mountain race, this means that elevation also plays a part in the atmosphere. Distances peaked out between 9000-10000 feet, noting that this also plays a large role in hydration, and oxygen levels.
Terrain: Single track course through and through with a few creek crossings or wash out creek beds, depending on distances. Switchbacks are extremely steep, very narrow, and the rocks that comprise the entire trail are very loose. It is not uncommon to see someone sliding down the side of a switchback. Nearly all of the half marathon course is 100% exposed, and the longer distances hit the exposure later in their races. Significant climbs, and steep drops, and a lot of vertical gain. On the plus side, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking with several opportunities for beautiful photos regardless of which distance you chose.
Logistics/Aid: This is an area of concern. Shuttling services to the race start were delayed at some distances. The shuttling from the finish line eventually reached a three hour wait line to get back to the parking lots. The start line for the half marathon was changed the day of the race due to complaints from the area campground due to noise levels. There was limited certified medical at the finish line, and several runners came through severely dehydrated. There were reports of aid stations along the longer distances running out of food and water. The half marathon had one fully stocked aid station, but that is at mile 5 with 9 miles left on the course. High likelihood of running out of water somewhere on the course. Emergency personnel had issues getting back to the race to find runners due to personal vehicles blocking the roads attempting to pick up their own runners, ignoring the signs that stated no personal vehicles beyond set points of the course. Furthermore, the event was extremely understaffed from the aid stations to the finish line; easily three times the amount of volunteers were needed. I will not return to an Ultra Adventure race until I know that the logistics of their races have been significantly improved.
Post Race: There is hydration stations, but some things will cost you, such as soda. You are equipped with a meal ticket for post race at one of the stands; this could be pizza, smoothies, etc…a nice novelty after the race. Seating is very limited, resulting in worn runners standing due to fear of cramping if they sit on the ground. Medical tent was available, but was easily overrun with limited certified medical staff available. As noted above, getting out of the finish line and back to your vehicle was a huge problem.
Beginners Luck: Highly advise against using this race for a beginning runner. The lack of support and aid, mixed with the extremely weather conditions and the challenging course could result in a very poor experience. This is a race for people with experience, and also who are self sufficient.
Personally, I want to love this race. The average number reflects two primary things. First, it shows a very hard, challenging course with very wicked weather conditions. These are things that make the race a challenge, and something that new runners should be aware of. Second, it also shows the unfortunate situations that unfolded with the logistics of the race. This stems from aid stations issues, transportation mishaps, lack of volunteers and overall health concerns for runners coming into the finish area. Someday I would love to come back to this race, or even other races that Ultra Adventures hosts, but as noted earlier, only after they adjust and make corrections from this event.