The BEST & WORST Half Marathons

Running

The BEST & The WORST
Half Marathons

The same question somehow seems to slide into my DM’s every single week: “so, which race has been your favorite?” There have been some INTERESTING (to put it lightly) races and places throughout my journey… but here are the absolute BEST and WORST race travel destinations that I’ve seen so far.

The BEST:

Ogden Half Marathon
Ogden, Utah

The Ogden Marathon/Half Marathon is held every May in Ogden, Utah & it was by far the BEST travel destination that I’ve been to thus far. While I have visited many big cities (Las Vegas, New York City, etc.) along my journey, Ogden offered more than any of them. Ogden is unique, gorgeous, and offers endless adventure. 

The city of Ogden itself is located North of Salt Lake City with an endless mountain backdrop lining the sky. The downtown area is a pedestrian hot-spot filled with quaint little shops, unique eats, bars, and art galleries. Right outside of town there are countless options for exploration. Here are just a few of them:

– Antelope Island State Park
– Ogden Trails
– Waterfall Canyon
– Ogden River Parkway
– Ogden Canyon Trail
– Snowbasin Resort
– North Fork Park
– Powder Mountain
– Nordic Valley

If you’re one who loves outdoor adventure – Ogden is truly the PERFECT destination for your next trip. And what about the race itself? Well, Ogden made sure that it was a perfect representation of its town. Starting at the top of the mountain in the crisp early sun, you ran downhill, between massive slabs of rocks on both sides of the street. Waterfalls slipped down into creeks as you soaked in the scenery of the beautiful mountainous landscape. After 13 miles you finished in the downtown valley, greeted by the perfect picture opportunity. 

The WORST:

Veterun Half Marathon
Summit Point, West Virginia

Well… sorry, West Virginia, but you take the cake for the worst race travel story so far. Now, nothing against West Virginia itself – the state actually has some interesting sites to see in certain cities – but not in Summit Point… At least not from what I saw. 

While the trip itself was fairly short, just a quick little road-trip weekend, I didn’t necessarily need to see anymore. The race took place at a motocross park – a never-ending road that twisted and turned into countless opportunities for half marathon chaos and confusion. And that’s exactly what happened. 

Hundreds of runners took off, twisting and turning in unison for the first couple hundred feet. Until some started leading the pack, and some started dropping back. That’s when it happened. The confusion. The chaos. The absolute disaster. The course was not marked well, to say the least, and runners had absolutely no idea which way to turn, or where the road was leading, or should be leading, us. We were all running in random directions, nobody quite sure where we had come from or where we were supposed to be going. When I finally found the finish line, I realized I was still only at 11 miles…. which is obviously a problem when you’re going for 13.1. I literally had to TURN AROUND 100 feet away from the finish line, and run back into the course just to grab another 2 miles. It was an absolute mess. Straight up madness. 

Outside of the race being a natural disaster in itself – the town itself didn’t necessarily offer too much more to see (sorry, Summit Point). We actually had to drive out of the city limits to find somewhere to eat/to fill the car with gas. So. Not that I’m saying you SHOULDN’T visit this West Virginia town – but, I’m just saying, it’s not quite gonna make the list of places I’d go again. BUT WHO KNOWS. They could build a Dairy Queen and change my mind. 

Utah

States

Ogden, Utah

State #16

Location: Ogden, Utah
Half: Ogden Half Marathon
Date: May 19, 2018
Finish Time: 1:37
Who’d I travel with? Mom, Kristen and Nora
Pre-run meal? Italian! 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME.

The best gift I’ve ever received? A trip to Utah with my absolute best friends – my mom, sister, and my niece, Nora. What makes it even better? I got to run a half marathon through the mountains. Granted, Kristen initially put the half marathon registration and flight ticket in a water bottle, so it took me a while to realize the gift was much more than something to drink from. 

I’ve never been to Utah; but my mom told me it would be one of my favorite places – and she was absolutely correct. This half marathon definitely won the prize for the most beautiful scenery thus far in my half marathon journey, despite the high elevation and guaranteed breathing difficulty. 

Before race day, we got a chance to see a little more of Ogden’s beautiful landscape by exploring Antelope Island State Park. I swear, this place looks like something straight from Star Wars. It’s a combination of beach, flat land, mountains, boulders, and a beautiful stretch of open water. Also, and this may not be as appealing as the above mentioned sightings, but there was literally buffalo shit everywhere and yet somehow we couldn’t find a single buffalo. 

On race day, my family drove me through the mountains to drop me off at the starting line with the other runners. Then they joined the cheering section at the finish line 13 miles away. Right before the race started, I got nervous, which is something that doesn’t typically happen to me before a race. But I was worried about the altitude, the course, the amount of people running. I was worried that somehow I wasn’t going to “perform” my best. This is one of the races that ended up showing me the reason I run – not for my time, not for praise or compliments, I run for me. I run because I can. I run because I like to explore new places and see new things. I run because it gives me space, time, and freedom to clear my head and be in my own world. I run because it is what I love. I had a huge realization before this race – that running because you love it is enough.

As I ran, I stopped and took pictures of the picturesque waterfall running down the side of the cliffs, a sight that I’ll never forget seeing during a run. I listened to songs by Eminem and rapped out loud despite the interesting looks I was getting from those around me. Throughout the race I remained in my zone, running my own race, and not worrying about anything else except the joy and thankful feeling I had to have my family there at the end, no matter what, no matter how I performed, no matter what place I took. They were there for me and with me, no matter what. 

Thank you Kristen, for the most wonderful gift I’ve ever received!