About seven or eight months ago got a text from my son about a half marathon out at Zion National Park. It's put on by an organization that does races at various Nations Parks - Vacation Races. It looked interesting. He and his wife were interested in doing this race so I said if they wanted to do it, I'd join them.
After agreeing to do the race the thoughts that went through my mind though - February - winter - Utah - cold. Hmmm... I am not a big fan of bitter cold, let alone doing half marathons in cold weather. However, their website listed average temperatures as 33 - 60 degrees F. That convinced me that it would not be too cold to do a half in February.
Average weather listings are funny things. They may or may not be true on the day you are there. Well, this apparently was not an average year as the temperature at the start of the race was 10 degrees F!!! It was sooooooo cold!
As typical, weeks, days, before any race, I'm always checking the weather forecast. There was no doubt in our minds, it was going to be unseasonably cold. This lead to the purchase of balaclavas, hand warmers, and thoughts of layers, layers, layers.
We had to get up very early (4:00 AM-ish) to get to the race as we were staying in an Airbnb in Orderville, about 45 miles away which included going through Zion National Park (in the dark, a very interesting drive, icy roads, a very winding road, meaning you were not going to go fast at all). We did make to the starting line which was in Virgin, UT. The race was a point-to-point race from Virgin, UT to Springdale, UT. Although the race is called Zion Half Marathon, the course was not actually in the park. The finish line was a couple hundred yards from the entrance to the park.
The other thing that was unique about this race, a point-to-point race, it was all uphill! So between the cold and going uphill the whole time, I knew I would probably not be able to finish in my self imposed (secret :) goal of three hours. No worries though, just finishing would be good enough.
|Scenery was incredible!|
|~Mile 9, warmed up to about 20 degrees!|
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Fun, senior sidebar note: Since our Airbnb was on the other side of Zion National Park, during our stay we made five trips through the park. It cost $35 each time our vehicle entered the park. However, since I purchased the Senior Lifetime America the Beautiful Pass a few years back, we did not have to pay the $35 each time, got in for 'free'. What a deal!