Yaateeh runners! Welcome to Monument Valley Ultra weekend!
Silence… then, Navajo Prayer, chanting, drumming…runners gather for the Monument Valley Ultra, as iconic rock formations become increasingly visible in early light; the depth of running-tradition seems palpable , east to greet dawn, in this land, sacred to the Navajo, and the privilege of being able to move on the earth, at this time, in this place, infuses the experience of those offering themselves to it.
The land is beautiful, powerful beyond words, the culture welcoming, and there are so many special touches in the event; also, the splurge of staying in the Navajo-owned and run View Hotel ( the nicest in which I’ve ever stayed!), right by the start, is well worth it! Run in Beauty!!!
Situated within the Navajo Nation, Monument Valley boasts amazing formations that reach over 1,000 feet into the sky and draw your gaze in wonderment. You will likely recognize these formations or “monuments” from the hundreds of movies that have been filmed in this desert backdrop over the years. Vibrant colors and dramatic shadows cast along the valley floor will give you a sense of becoming “in tune” with nature, experiencing the same inclusion with the natural world that the Native Americans have practiced for generations. Running becomes less of an activity and more of an intrinsic way in which to absorb the landscape.
Join us to share the experience in this beautiful setting as we wander and wind our way around the majestic towers and entwine Navajo culture into our event, which will leave you with a new understanding and respect for the natural environment and appreciation for the Navajo lifestyle.
All three courses are entirely dirt, mostly singletrack and includes very challenging terrain and climbs in one of the planet’s most dramatic landscapes.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is located 23 miles northeast of Kayenta, Arizona and 20 miles south of Mexican Hat, Utah. The park straddles the Arizona/Utah border, and the races all start and finish in Arizona.
Average low temperature: 37 degrees Fahrenheit
Average high temperature: 60 degrees Fahrenheit
The weather in the high desert is variable and early spring weather, wind and rain are possible, as are much more mild conditions.
The 50-mile race is capped at 50 runners, while the 50K race is capped at 150 runners.
50 Mile – This route starts off by heading into the North Valley an area where few tourists are able to see without a Navajo guide, then over to the 3 Sisters Aid Station, where it links into the 50K route. You’ll do the North Window and Arches loops before heading up onto Mitchell Mesa, then back to the finish line.
50K – The route starts on the Valley Drive road where you will witness a sunrise that will be permanently etched in your memory. After about 3.7 miles you’ll arrive at the 3 Sisters aid station for the first time, located at the parking area of the Dineh Trailrides horse corrals. The next leg of the course will have you following horse trails around the towering formations of Monument Valley before looping back to the aid station again at approximately mile 8. From here you’ll head out on a 9.5 mile journey through the desert which will take you by several remote, seldom-seen, jaw dropping formations in areas of the park that are only accessible with Navajo guides. Our group Navajo guides will be covering the trails by horseback to help ensure that you remain on the appropriate path. After returning to the 3 Sisters Aid station for the 3rd time you can regroup before embarking on the daunting 1,500ft climb up onto Mitchell Mesa, an area seldom seen since it was mined for uranium. The turnaround at the top of the mesa will offer life changing views that you have earned by pushing through the crux of the course. After returning to the aid station at the horse corrals, 50k runners will take the Valley Drive back to the starting line.
Half Marathon – This run starts out along the Wildcat trail single track around the backside of the West Mitten following roads to the 3 Sisters Aid Station. Runners will do a 4.5 mile loop following horse trails between the landforms of Monument Valley after a second pass through 3 Sisters Aid Station runners follow Valley Drive back to the finish line.
AID STATIONS – There are well-stocked aid stations throughout the course, providing hydration, medical support and a variety of nutrition. Stations will include an assortment of the following: Honey Stinger energy gels and chews, Gatorade, salty snacks, fresh fruit and sweet snacks. The menu for 50K and 50-miler may include Nutella wraps, sandwiches, hummus wraps, among other food items. We will have major medical support at Three Sisters Aid Station and the Start/Finish area, along with first responders on the course.
AWARDS – There are unique finisher’s medals for all finishers, plus special awards for the top finishers. There are overall awards for winner and age-group awards for top performers in each of the three races. Awards go to the top two finishers in age groups.
Tough, but worth it for the scenery.
This is a very tough, entirely off-road trail run in some of the most stunning desert scenery you'll ever get to run in. This is Navajo land on the AZ/UT … MORE
This is a very tough, entirely off-road trail run in some of the most stunning desert scenery you’ll ever get to run in. This is Navajo land on the AZ/UT border with scenery most of us are familiar with from countless movies, not least Forrest Gump.
Aside from a wee little problem with signage to the last water station (who needs water in the desert?, but seriously, carry your own) it’s hard to fault this race. Not least because you’re too busy going gaga over the stunning scenery.
It’s a lot of driving to get here from. About 6-7 hours drive from Salt Lake, Vegas and Phoenix so just plan for sightseeing as part of longer vacation. Drive north on highway 163 to get the iconic Gump road shot.
And plan to stay at the View Motel because it’s right beside the start/finish and the only thing for miles around.
Totally worth the effort.
Amazing views with lots of sand
This race is a real beauty, I went not for time but for the views and I do not regret it. The course per se is very nice and has … MORE
This race is a real beauty, I went not for time but for the views and I do not regret it. The course per se is very nice and has a lot of sand (so if you are not used to it, IT WILL BE HARD!!!) but if you have run on loose sand, then you wont have a problem.
The course is well marked so you dont have to worry of getting lost. Has one hard climb and the rest are little rolling hills (again, lots of loose sand), and the aid stations are well stocked and full of great volunteers. The Navajo tribe are very friendly people and you will enjoy for sure this race. Again I went to enjoy the run and the scenery not to beat a PR, if that is your thing the first place on the 50M Finished in 6+ hours, so it does have challenge.