Saturday, October 13, 2012

Zion Half Marathon

Got up today to go for a run -- half marathon #22 in the 40@40 project! But today, we are in Zion National Park!

Woke up in darkness, got dressed, and then drove into the park. It was beautiful and quiet, and we got in and to the trailhead just before sunrise at 7:20 a.m.

We started off on the Pa'Rus trail -- 1.7 miles of paved goodness. First you run on the back side of  a campground, and then you just run along the river, crossing back and forth over it. That was a great way to get started in the dim light - no traffic at all.

Then we arrived at Canyon Junction, and then ran along the park road out to the Temple of Sinawava and back. The run was absolutely glorious -- the only traffic being shuttle buses, the occasional car headed to the lodge, and a park ranger making the rounds.

We ran and ran and ran, and had a few wildlife encounters:

some mule deer, including one who quietly walked toward us...

 a flock of wild turkeys, some of whom just came closer and closer...

My favorite, however, were the pair of glossy, "none more black" ravens who croaked at us. One flew off, but the other watched us keenly, hopping along after us. I love ravens. 

Overall the run was uneventful -- we ran past Zion landmarks such as the Grove of the Patriarchs...

 ... tried to decide which peak was the Great White Throne....

...and, basically, just enjoyed the views of the river and the absolute quiet. 

Eventually we reached the Temple of Sinawava -- the end of the line for the shuttles -- feeling great. We did spend perhaps a little too long there admiring the spectacular view, which meant that I was cold and stiff when we started the return journey. 

That said, we still had spectacular views. We even got called out by a ranger on a bus tour -- "here we have two runners ... they will have run to the end of the canyon and back!" -- and got waved at by a large group of strangers. Yep, it was almost as good as having my name called out by random strangers!

Wil and I had decided, yesterday, to go ahead and buy ourselves a National Parks pass. We buy one every year, but had been using Tony's pass that a friend loaned him. But here's the thing -- most races we do cost way more than $40 each. Sure, we didn't get a race shirt or anything, but we had a fantastic, perfect half marathon today.

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