Zion Ultras – April 4-5, 2014

We want to hear your suggestions on how we can make the Zion 100 a better experience for you.  Post questions/comments below or send emails to info@ultra-adventures.com  You can also get in touch via our Facebook page.  The FB page has the most up to date photos and happenings related to the race.

Where does the race start and finish?  The race will begin and end at the Virgin town park. To get there, turn right at 100 W as you come into Virgin on Hwy 9 and continue for one block.

What time does my race start?  6:00am (official start time for 100 mile and 100k).  7:00am (official start time of the 50k).  Coffee and hot chocolate will be ready by 5am.

A few runners have inquired about starting early in order to make sure that they make the 32 hour cutoff.  We will be offering two options for an early start: 4am and 5am.  Anyone that takes the early start will not be eligible for overall awards, this is intended for those that need more time.  If you are a mid-pack runner that isn’t worried about the cutoff but not competing for the top spots, feel free to use this option as well.  We will not be opening aid stations earlier for the early starters, so be prepared for water-only with limited food options at the first two aid stations.  Just make sure we get your name down when you line up to take the early start.  The additional one or two hours will be added to your official time after you have finished the race.

When and where is the pre race check in?  Thursday evening from 5-9pm at this gorgeous home located in the national park, ten miles up Kolob Reservoir road. Click here for a map of how to get there from the start/finish line. The physical address is: 95 North Kolob Terrace Rd. Virgin, UT. You can bring drop bags to pre-race check in or drop them off at the starting line Friday morning.

Is there a pre-race meeting? Not a set meeting, just important information handed out at pre-race check in.  Your goodie bag will have updated handouts.  Make sure to give yourself time to read them over.  Any remaining questions can then be addressed with the race staff.  Your opportunity for a free wood-fired pizza is at pre-race check in, so don’t miss it!  If you are unable to make it, your packet will be available Friday morning before the race (but you’ll need to arrive at least an hour early.)

How often are the aid stations?  Between 5-10 miles.  Water-only stations and sponge buckets will be placed between aid stations, with the exception of between the starting line and Aid station #1.

When will drop bags will be accessible? You can leave a drop bag for any aid station that you’d like.

What will be available at the aid stations?  Aid stations will be stocked with: water, ice, Heed, Gatorade, Coke, ginger ale, gel packs, fruit, boiled potatoes, broth (both vegan and chicken), tortillas w/ Nutella, PB&J, turkey sandwiches, dill pickles, chips, Ensure (or similar drink), coffee, hot chocolate, hard candies, granola bars, fig newtons, anti chafing agent, sunscreen, first aid supplies.  We will have some electrolyte caps, but not enough to supply all runners if they rely on us as their only source.  If you run out or need a few at each aid station, they’re there for your use, but please plan to supply your own.  Same with gels.  We will supply an average of one gel per runner per aid station, but that’s obviously not enough to cover every runner if they are fueling only with gels and relying on our supply.

Birthday cake will be served at the Goosebump aid station, celebrating all of the runners with April birthdays!

In addition to the standard fare, any night aid stations will have different warm food items (rice/bean/cheese/salsa burritos, grilled cheese, quesadillas, and pancakes in the morning).

Dutch oven potatoes (vegetarian, meat lovers, and breakfast varieties) will be served at the finish line.

The pre race meal is organic, wood-fired pizza made to order from the Rise Up Pizza Co.   The pizza oven will also be available on Friday afternoon and evening at the start/finish line selling pizza.  A beverage of your choice will be provided with each voucher as well.

Coffee and hot chocolate will be ready at 5am on Friday morning at the starting line.

If you have a favorite item that you can’t live without at the aid stations, let us know and we’ll see what we can do.

Can I have a pacer?  Pacers are allowed anywhere after Grafton Crew Access Point (approximately mile 47).  We will provide a pacer shuttle service from the start/finish line to the Grafton and Camino del Rio Crew Access Points.  The shuttle will leave every hour on the hour so plan accordingly if you wish to use this service.

Can you help me find a pacer? Use the Facebook page to find a pacer or offer to be one.

Where can friends/family (crew) access the course to provide support?  At Goosebump, Grafton Mesa, Grafton Crew Access, Camino del Rio Crew Access,  Walsh Aid Station, Smith Mesa Turnaround Crew Access, and Mesa Road Turnoff Crew Access (3 miles from the finish line.)

What percentage of the course is run on single track trail/dirt roads/paved roads? The 100 mile course has approximately 30 miles of single track, 63 miles of dirt roads (good running quality, not gravel) and 7 miles of pavement.  (Don’t let the paved miles get you down too much- 5 of those miles are on remote, very scenic stretches.)

Where are the nearest/best accommodations?  Virgin is located right in the middle of Hurricane and Springdale, about a 15 min. drive to either of them. We highly recommend staying in Springdale if you can- hotel prices are  higher than Hurricane or St. George, but the proximity to the park and the ambiance of the town are worth it.  A discounted rate has been offered from the premier hotel in Zion Canyon-  Cable Mountain Lodge (10% discount- use “Z100″ for discount code on their website).  Follow this link for more lodging options around Springdale. (Links to lodging in the Hurricane and St. George areas are also available through this same website.)

Our sponsoring hotel on the Hurricane side of the event is the Holiday Inn Express- St. George, Utah, just off of the Hurricane exit that takes you to Zion National Park.  Mention that you’re with our group and get $32 off of the regular rate.  Access this trail in the Red Cliff Desert Reserve from the hotel.

Here is a blog post about camping options within 15 minutes of the starting line.  The unofficial “group” free camping area is about 5 miles up Kolob Terrace Rd, next to North Creek. We will have a port-a-potty set up at this site (for reals this time- it didn’t get delivered to the right place last year!)

See this post for links to home rentals in Virgin, Springdale, Hurricane, and St. George.

Where is the nearest airport?   The St. George airport is about 45 min from Virgin.  Las Vegas International Airport is about 2 hours and 15 minutes from Virgin.

Who gets belt buckles? What do they look like?  Only finishers of the 100 mile race.  Buckles are custom made with materials harvested from the course and will make a perfect souvenir of the area.  Here is a link to a preview of the buckles.  Runners will select their buckle in the order that they finish the race, as there are a variety of styles to choose from.

100k finishers will receive a unique finisher’s medal.

What are the average temperature highs and lows?  Tough question. Highs could still hit upper 80 degrees in the lower elevations, although that is less likely than our first year.  It could also snow up on either of the mesas in April. Be prepared for either extreme.  Average temps for April should be around 80 for a high and in the 40′s for a low.

What are the cutoff times?  100 mile= 32 hrs, 100k= 20 hrs.  Use the early start option if you’re worried that you won’t make the cutoff.

Why was the cutoff time shortened?  Two full days exposed in the desert sun is just too risky if we get hot temps like we did in 2012. We had some close calls last year which were heat related, all of which occurred late in the afternoon on the second day.

How are the races timed? All distances are professionally timed with live tracking and immediate results.

Do I need to purchase a pass to get into the national park?  No.  The race is run on 5 mesas on the outskirts of the park, not inside the park.  Even though the pre-race check in location is on a property that is surrounded by the park, it is a lesser traveled road and there is not an entrance fee to get there.

Am I required to prove that I’ve completed a race of another distance in order to qualify to register?  Nope.  Just need to be crazy enough to try.  Fortunately we can easily access all aid stations by vehicle and can give runners a ride back that have had enough. (But that would never cross your mind!)

Is the race held on bike trails? If so are there a lot of bikes on the trail? All of the single track sections are shared with mountain bikers but we’ll be using the busiest trails during times with very low traffic.  We’ll have signs up to let bikers know to use caution.

What will be used to mark the trails? High visibility flagging (no more of the cheap stuff), removable paint, flour,  high intensity reflective tape, LED lights, and signs to mark junctions.

How technical is the trail? The ascents onto Gooseberry, Eagle Crags Grafton, Guacamole, and Smith mesas are hands-on-knees steep.  The descent off of Gooseberry Mesa is steep and technical with bad footing.  Gooseberry and Guacamole have lots of ups and downs and slickrock sections mixed in which make it nearly impossible to find a good running rhythm. Other sections such as Smith Mesa road, Smithsonian Butte road, Eagle Crags road, and Dalton Wash road are very straightforward and fast.  This course has a little bit of everything!

What do the shirts look like?  Race apparel has our logo on it, with a variety of products that you can choose from.  Upon registering, you will choose one of the following: a T-shirt, longsleeve shirt, hoodie, running cap, visor, armsleeves, or a handheld watter bottle.  All of these items will be available for purchase at the race as well or you can pre-order  items via ultrasignup.  Here’s a look at what the merchandise will look like with our logo: 

Is there cell phone reception on the course? It’s pretty spotty, depending on your provider. You can pick up a signal every so often. Most aid stations will have volunteers from the local Ham radio club that will help us keep track of runners and communicate emergencies.

Will it be possible to track runners online during the race?  Yes, there will be 4 checkpoints from which runners’ locations will be updated online.  Miles 19, 31, 57, and 82.  Goosebump and Walsh aid stations are the only ones where we will have internet access to do this.

Is there a “Plan B” course if the weather is bad? Yes.  Much of the course is a nightmare when wet. The clay sticks to the bottom of shoes and it becomes almost impossible to run. Gooseberry and surrounding area is much better under rainy conditions, but the access getting there can get a little ugly.   We’ll likely have to run laps on Gooseberry if it gets ugly.  Crew access will be the biggest challenge in this scenario.

What are the post race festivities? We will now be heading over to the new Brew Pub at the main entrance to Zion National Park (next to Cable Mountain Lodge). Runners will receive a complimentary brat, burger, grilled chicken, or veggie burger. You can enjoy the only fresh draft beer in southern Utah (from Zion Canyon Brewing Co.) on the patio overlooking the Virgin river while listening to live music.

Can I get a refund if I’m not able to run? The amount refunded will be determined by how much advanced notice you give us as many costs involved with the race are incurred early.  By 60 days before race-Roll over to next year.  By 30 days before race-50% refund.  Within 30 days-no refund.  You may also transfer your entry to another person with a $30 transfer fee.  One chance of getting the full amount of your money back is if the race is sold out and there are people on the waiting list, we’ll put you in touch with the next person and you can make arrangements for them to pay you directly (and pay us the $30 transfer fee).  Once this transaction has taken place, you’ll let us know and we’ll delete you from the racer’s list and add the new person’s info.  This saves us time and hassle in mailing out checks and ensures that we have a paying participant to take your place.  Many runners sign up for the waiting list, but when it comes down to it, only about half of them seem to be serious about running the race when they are contacted about a vacancy.

Is there a cap on the number of runners allowed to enter in 2014?  Not really.  There is but it’s high enough that we don’t anticipate being anywhere near it.

Are there age group prizes?  No, overall winners only.  (1st-3rd, M/F- for each distance)  Age group places will be posted on your ultrasignup.com profile.  Awards (and buckles) will be handed out individually after runners cross the finish line.

Can I run the course while I’m in town? Yes. We’d love to have you come and join us on any of our group runs.  The group run schedule will be posted on the blog in the fall.  If you’re in town and want to run, post on the Facebook page and chances are myself or another local will join you since a few of us are usually out running the trails on weekends.

How does the 2014 course compare to the original 2012 course in terms of difficulty? What was the reason(s) for changing it?  We changed the course for 2013.  This course is a bit more difficult in terms of elevation gain (about 20% more climbing).  It is hands down better in terms of views offered (we’re much closer to the national park).  We get out of the hottest desert section bright and early before it heats up and most runners won’t hit it again until evening or night when it has cooled down.   We’ll hit Gooseberry during the day instead of at night.  We climb up and descend 5 mesas, each offering dramatic panoramic views of the park.  It is logistically easier to manage and more accessible. While the course isn’t easier to run, it has much more to offer.  Scroll down through the course description photos in the sequence that they come at you in the race, and you should get an idea of why the changes were made.  I wanted to showcase this area that we’re running in and this course does that much better.

I’m a little concerned about the animals that could be out roaming at night. What do I need to look out for? The biggest concern would be possibly stepping on a rattlesnake. But the good thing about rattlesnakes is that they rattle to warn you before they bother you, giving you time to get out of the way in 99% of the encounters.  There’s a good chance that you’ll hear coyotes howling, but they aren’t a real threat around here. While mountain lions are around, we’ve never had any attacks in the area. It’s wild enough here that they have plenty of room to roam and they keep their distance. I’ve never seen one personally in the area in over 30 years and I do a lot of late night running.

I’m traveling from far away and planning a vacation around the event.  What are some of the “must see/do” activities for someone who has never been to Zion National Park before?  Here’s a link to a nice variety of hikes within the park.  There’s so many backcountry options that even local enthusiast have a list of canyons that they have yet to explore.  Click on this link to see some great mountain biking trails in the area.  These mtn biking trails give a good overview of what’s available in the region.  There’s also plenty of great climbing to be had in southwestern Utah.

The Facebook page is the best place for current events/discussion surrounding the Zion 100.

  • Steve LaBranche

    I attempted to use the promo code listed in FAQ for Cable Mountain Lodge. It wasn’t recognized. Is the code “Z100″ still valid?

  • Steve LaBranche

    So, I read about rattlesnakes. My first thought was to tune down the MP3 player.

    Question – Are we allowed to run with earbuds? Some races do not allow them for safety purposes.

    • admin

      Yes, headphones are allowed. Just be considerate at aid stations and at the start/finish by turning it off or removing them from your ears.

  • chip henry

    thinking about doing the 100 miler for my first is zion 100 a little to hard for my first 100 ???

    • David Pauwelyn

      I am in the same boat as you Chip. I am really thinking of making this my 1st 100 miler. I live in Vegas and I am thinking about going out there in a week or so to check out the course. What part of the country do you live in?

      • chip henry

        I also live in vegas david I was thinking of going after the holidays…find me on fb if you like

  • chip henry

    i live in vegas david I was planning on going after the holidays