My Experience From Bryce Canyon Half-Marathon Trail Run
Bryce Canyon is one of the U.S. smallest national parks, 56.2sq. mile in south-central Utah. Even though it’s called canyon it’s really not a canyon. It’s formed from compressed chromatic limestone hoodoos on the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Edges on the rim are covered with pines, high elevation meadows, and spruce forests, it’s an inspiring and breathtaking place to visit. The air feels really refreshing and it’s often called some of the world’s best air quality. I came here from Brazil where I was training to my first 100K Ultra Run Challenge and the last 2 weeks in Rio de Janeiro I had been sick with flue among other things. Finally, when I reached Utah I could really feel the fresh and clean air. Besides making it easier on the lungs, clean air also means easier on the eyes. You can literally see a panorama of three states. Not to mention the possibilities of stargazing.
Well, I have enjoyed the trails and hikes here and It is offering beautiful scenery. But the main idea to travel to Utah was the first warmup competition in my quest to run the 100K Ultra Run in Italy.
In Utah, I participated in Bryce Canyon Race with a half-marathon trail run. Even though my training and getting ready to run in one of the hardest marathons in the world, was not optimum due to my illness, I was still determined to participate in Bryce Canyon Race.
I had no expectation nor had I heard anything about the trail. There were pictures and a video on the event page, but I can tell you It wasn’t quite like that.
The race started early Saturday morning so I needed to leave from my accommodation around 4am in the morning. I reached the car and all the windows were frozen. After an hour drive, I was feeling good and warm, when I arrived at the parking lot of Bryce Canyon Race start area. Got out from the car in my running gear and realized that I had come to the mountain area and even the ground was frozen. (which was a good thing, I noticed at the end)
At the start line of this years, Bryce Canyon Race Half-Marathon Trail run gathered, 637 runners. The start was packed but I manage to start from the middle of the crowd. I started to run with mediocre speed just to save a little bit of my strength for the uphills. There were small issues due to the markings of the trail so at some point I was following a group of runners in front of me when they suddenly turned around. They were running in the wrong direction for a mile.
The terrain was pine forest, with roots sticking out from the ground and it was a muddy, extremely rocky and narrow trail. When the uphill really started it was so steep, that it’s not possible to run even, you needed to climb. There were some participants that even had the climbing poles with them. Now, the terrain needs your full attention for the reason that you don’t break your ankles combined with the uphill where you can’t run your back strength. Now all this starts to be hard for the body and tiering all the joints and muscles. This was definitely a brain and body game from the start to finish.
When you reached the top, were the turning point was, you needed to run against the other runners in this 8-inch trail. I bet I had at least 100 possible places to really break myself or even drop to the canyon. After all, the highest peak of the competition was 8200ft. (2450m) some of the steep drops could have made horrible injuries.
Concentrate and Concentrate
I was really putting everything to the concentration not to twist my ankle nor my knee. When I was coming down towards the finish line the ground wasn’t anymore frozen, now it was slippery mud. You couldn’t really keep up the speed because you didn’t have breaks. Keeping the pace like a penguin on ice. The cheering of the crowd and the continuous uplifting comments from the other runners really helped me to run. There were forming groups and there was mutual motivation going all the time.
This was most definitely one of the hardest run I have ever done. Good practice for the 100K Ultra Run even though the terrain is completely different. I am so happy that I participated in this particular competition. Now I really know what it feels like to run extreme trail without proper preparing.
The challenge has now started and I can’t wait for my next competition. I’m starting to feel healthier by now, I do have some mucus in my lungs, but fresh air in Utah will fix that soon.
The trail was really hard and definitely falls into extreme sport. Here is the winners time and my time, now normally I run half-marathon in 1:40:00-1:50:00.
Winning time in Women’s category was 2:19:06. My time was 3:19:37 so it really tells you how demanding this race was. There was 637 participants and I was on 73rd place among female runners. I’m not happy with my time, but like I mentioned I’ve been sick and preparation for the competition wasn’t on point so I know I can do better.
Stay focused and stay healthy.
Follow my challenge on my Instagram and on my blog.
Best Canyon wishes,