Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Zion National Park, Utah

We didn't spend near enough time at the Grand Canyon, thinking we had to hurry up to the Zion area for some training runs before race day smacked us upside the head.  However, Vanessa had the start date wrong (yeah, I'll put the blame on her) and we ended up arriving a full month before race day rather than the 2 weeks we had thought.  No worries, Zion is beautiful and there is lots to explore both in and out of the park.
We decided to make our home base at the Bumbleberry Inn since we still had their wifi password and their parking lot was rather large.  From here we were in close proximity to various trailheads, boondocking campsites, and the park itself.  However, the park wasn't our goal since it was full of tourists.  Instead, we make the trails outside the park our playgrounds.
Matt Gunn, the race director for the Zion 100 introduced us to the local running group, the Trailheadz, and Vanessa and I joined them on a run along the GEM Trail which was part of the race.  Beautiful trail that ran along a slot canyon.  The trail was slightly uphill on the out portion and we struggled to keep up with the girls leading the run.
We also scoped out some camping sites that Matt suggested on his FAQ.  There are quite a few very cool sites but we were saddened that a lot of the river sections were closed off to the public.
Inside the park we ran along a few trails, most notably was Angel's Landing which Vanessa loved but my acrophobia prevented me from summiting.  Still, it made for a great training run.
The Zion 100 race didn't go exactly how Vanessa and I envisioned, both of us getting sore knees from running on the slickrock early on.  We struggled with the trails and dropped at mile 52.  Vanessa's race report can be found HERE.  Still, we had a wonderful time out there and would love to attempt this race again.  Especially since Matt mentioned he'd comp us if we should return.

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