Antelope Valley/Page AZ Half Marathon

Vacation Races Antelope Canyon Half Marathon 2018 Review

Running buddies suggested Antelope Canyon and I was immediately on board. While the Antelope Canyon half marathon course itself doesn’t go through the famous canyon – that only happens on the 100-mile route – it was still a stunningly beautiful course. While not technically a Las Vegas marathon, Vegas is probably the closest international airport, so we’re counting it.

Training

I switched my long runs from road to trail. Weekday runs (Tues & Thurs) during the holidays were trail, as I had a great trail area 1 mi from my house and the time to explore. I stopped using that area in January, as some people also use it for a shooting range and I don’t enjoy running in Las Vegas to the sound of gunshots. After that, weekday runs went back to road, but long runs stayed trail.

I joined a trail running group to find new trails and reduce the possibility of getting lost and met some great fellow runners who were also doing the race. Running trails changed my definition of “uphill,” “downhill,” and “fast.” It also meant new shoes – I had started with worn Brooks Ravenna 7s and wanted more grip – and a hydration vest.

My running buddy got sucked into a black vortex of work, and didn’t have time to join me on long runs. Two weeks before the race, she finally got out of that morass, so she had minimal trail time under her belt.

Running the Antelope Canyon half marathon

This is the first race I actually had to travel to. We left Friday in snow, arriving just before bib pickup closed. Quick Mexican dinner and early lights-out for the start the next morning.

Grabbed two hard-boiled eggs from the breakfast buffet at the hotel before heading out to the course. Arrive at 7:30 for an 8 AM start with a temperature around 30 degrees. Saw friends from the trail running group before meeting my running partner and her two fast friends. A few stretches, and we were off!

Miles 0 to 5

This entire section was gorgeous. On the right, you have desert scrub brush, and on the left, the long expanse of the wild west, with mesas and buttes off in the distance. The hard-packed sand/dirt trail skirts along a mesa, giving some exposure, and the track is just wide enough for one person for the most part. So you’re stuck with a big crowd during the 2-3 miles. On the plus side, you don’t burn up all your energy too quick. On the downside, you can’t run your pace or leverage the easy downhill in this section. Our two fast friends were stuck closeby until about mile 3-4, when there was actually room to pass on a steep uphill section.

Miles 5 to 10

Just past mile 5 was the first rest station, at the top of a hill. There was a long line for the bathrooms, especially since one of the stalls wasn’t being used, but nobody had checked that it was empty! Major derp factor for everyone in line. This section curves around the back of the city of Page and gives great views of the Colorado River. It’s a wide ribbon of blue against the red, orange and white of the sandstone around it. The river has carved an amazing gorge on the other side of Glen Canyon Dam. It’s incredibly deep and narrow. We got a little bit of a view, but weren’t close enough to enjoy it.

Vacation Races Antelope Canyon Half Marathon Review

Miles 10 to 13.1

Around mile 9 or 10, my right knee started acting up. I had fallen last Sunday, hitting both my knees, and this had probably aggravated the injury. Going uphill wasn’t bad, but downhill, my favorite, was torture. This slowed us down significantly. My running partner and a gal from Tucson we chatted with hung in there for me and we all got through mile 12 together. Our fan club (a mutual friend and my buddy’s husband) had set up close to the finish line, where the trail turned to loose sand, with signs. There was a metal ramp over some rock to the finish line, where we all gave our last, best effort, coming in at 3:14.

Antelope Canyon half marathon: Post-race

The Antelope Canyon half marathon finish area had bonfires, hot chocolate, soda, bananas, pickles, and a meal, your choice of pizza or Navajo tacos, along with music. Plenty of folks were hanging out savoring their win and waiting for runners. We took off to see Horseshoe Bend (on the 55k race but not the half), which was worth it, and made me glad we saw it on the off-season. On Sunday, we visited Lower Antelope Canyon, which was well worth it. And we even made it home before dark!

Antelope Canyon Half Review

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