Overall Rating
Overall Rating (160 Reviews)
4.5
(160 Ratings)  (160 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3.8
SCENERY
4.4
PRODUCTION
4.6
SWAG
4.6
The Yellowstone Half & 5K is a stunning trail race with views of the Gallatin National Forest. You’ll cross rivers and climb into the forest, where you may spot local wildlife that call this area home! The Yellowstone Half Marathon will start and end at the Old Airport on the … MORE
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Recent reviews

    seattlebiker FIRST-TIMER '22

    This was the final race for the Grand Quad race with a 5K and Half-Marathon in the Grand Tetons and the 5K and Half-Marathon at West Yellowstone. The start & … MORE

    This was the final race for the Grand Quad race with a 5K and Half-Marathon in the Grand Tetons and the 5K and Half-Marathon at West Yellowstone. The start & finish line was perfect as it was located in the same place with minimal logistics and easily accessible from our Madison Campground site. It was nice to have parking right there to easily get dropped off and picked up. I already had my bib from the Grand Tetons but we still did the expo so I could purchase a few items and look at the vendors. We drove around, with another racer and her husband, to find the Buffalo statues in town before the 5K which was fun. It was a great venue and town for both races. The 5K had very hot weather and the half-marathon Saturday morning was overcast and perfect. It started to drizzle right after I finished.

    We had been exploring Yellowstone since Sunday after the Grand Tetons run to enjoy all the sights. The Yellowstone course was beautiful and challenging! Not as scenic as the Grand Tetons but I enjoyed being in the woods and run next to the river at times. I kept my eyes open for moose and bear but didn’t see any. The trail description was right on par and delivered the challenge promised! Some of the trail followed a crushed gravel trail while the rest was snowmobile/ATV trails. Additionally, they had a backhoe and other equipment cleanup and work on the trail. It made for a more challenging trail with all the ruts, mud, broken trees/branches and such. My knee acted up at mile 4 causing me to walk fast for a great portion of miles 5-7 with the hill and mud though it was a great break. My knee was ready to take on some running but then the rocks and tree branches resulted in a lot of ankle twisting steps that I had to face the fact I would not be under 3 hours finish time in order to not injure myself. I was disappointed but accepting it. The whole way I kept thinking it’s all good, I’m going to finish stronger and feel proud of my accomplishment and my time due to the challenging course and my knee. I had trained on some trails but not as rut and rock filled as this route. Definitely will be more prepared for future “trail” races.

    While running, I focused on the experience and sense of success for my accomplishments. I received the email, when I had reception within the park (which was limited in many places) regarding the Grand Tetons Double Moose medals shortage. I felt grateful I received mine. I read that there was going to be another “200” short for the Double Bison and the Grizzly Double. I kept looking forward to celebrating my Grand Quad challenge completed and to get a medal since I knew I wasn’t going to be one of the last 200 runners. I pushed running and fast walking to finish and crossed the finish line, took a selfie and a runner let me know the double medals already were not available. I felt a bit deflated realizing my hard work would not be 100% celebrated at the end. I was grateful to get the Grand Quad medal but disappointed about the Double Bison and Grizzly Double. I texted a runner I had met during the Grand Tetons shuttle bus from the finish to the start. She got them and offered to let me take photos with them so I could get a post-race photo. It was such a nice offer! I met her at her accommodations and we took a few photos. I received an email early the next week to ensure they had my information correct from the finish line to send the medals. Their medals are amazing! The Yellowstone one had the 150th Anniversary banner which is special. The Quad and Double medals had spinners with the relevant runs for the Grand Tetons 5K and Half-Marathon (Double Moose), Yellowstone 5K and Half-Marathon (Double Bison), Grand Tetons and Yellowstone Half-Marathons (Grizzly Double) and Grand Quad both parks 5K and Half-Marathons displayed.

    I was introduced to VR by a friend that recommended I sign-up for Mt. Rainier since we live within an hour away. I saw the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone medals and scenery photos from 2021 participants and wanted to experience the races! VR does a great job with their races from promoting, communications, organizing logistics and pre-race details, expo, announcements, during race aid stations, finish line logistics of meals handed to you in a National Park branded box full of snacks, chocolate milk and bananas, receiving your medals, vendors and race merchandise and the big National Park run series signs for photo ops. I’d highly recommend their races and look forward to doing more!

    We were able to enjoy the park for one final day having driven around the entire park several times. I was also able to take some photos in the park with my medals and run into other racers and congratulate them. I met the friendliest people on these races and enjoyed the experience! Wearing your medals and/or shorts post-race really connects you in such a big park. We drove up to LaMar Valley and headed back to camp with winds up to 40 mph and pouring rain producing rivers of water in the ditches and loosening rocks on Dunraven Pass. We camped one last night in Madison Campground before we packed up Sunday morning and explored West Yellowstone again before heading home. We drove all the way home mostly in torrential rain all the way but grateful once we got home. We were especially grateful that we made it out of the park right before the flooding and closure of the park. We hope everyone made it out and home safe!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4
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    srjenkins FIRST-TIMER '22

    They had a wet spring so it was veryuddy and soupy. There were also some technical rocky parts. I recommend bringing your trail shoes if you have some. MORE

    They had a wet spring so it was veryuddy and soupy. There were also some technical rocky parts. I recommend bringing your trail shoes if you have some.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    seagroves87 FIRST-TIMER '22

    I ran this as part of the Grand Quad with vacation races. It is 1 week after Grand Teton. I did a whole bunch of hiking and nature viewing in … MORE

    I ran this as part of the Grand Quad with vacation races. It is 1 week after Grand Teton. I did a whole bunch of hiking and nature viewing in between and even saw several bears. For this race I stayed in West Yellowstone. I drove up after the Bear Lake Idaho half on Thursday and stayed for 2 nights. I also did the 5K Friday. Since I picked up my packet at Teton I didn’t go to this expo. I splurged on lodging in West Yellowstone since I was only staying for 2 nights. I stayed at the Holiday Inn in West Yellowstone and for not much more a night got a room with a hot tub. It was more than I usually pay for a hotel but really, really nice. If you can afford it I would recommend it. The race starts and ends a few blocks from the Holiday Inn and most of the hotels in West Yellowstone so it is very convenient. I knew this was a trail race and my foot was starting to hurt from the other 4 races and the hiking this week and I wanted to make sure I can complete my half next weekend in Indiana so I was planning on walking most of this race and before the race said this was going to be my second slowest half marathon (my slowest being a crazy hard trail race in NJ). It is a loop and I walked to the race but there was plenty of parking. Logistically this was a very easy race with no shuttles. It is a trail race. If you have only run road races this will be the hardest race you have done. However if you have done trail running, this was an average difficulty/pretty fun trail course. I marked it 4 for difficulty but compared to road races it is a 5. The first ~1 mile is on the road to the trail and the first maybe 3 to 4 mile was pretty non-technical and quite runnable. I did run the road portion to bank some time to make sure I finished in 4 hours (though vacation races is generally not strict with the time cut off) and walked most of the rest just running a bit of the flatter and downhill sections. At mile 6 there is a very long, steep hill. Afterwards the next couple miles are a bit more technical with some rocks and mud. I thought it was less technical than the slick rock in Zion. It was very similar technicality to the trails I usually train on in Mendon Park near Rochester. I was walking today so it wasn’t hard to walk but some sections would be tough to run. If you are the type who never walks in a race you should know most trail races require a bit of walking in the technical sections even for the fast runners as I’ve seen them walk after passing me in some multiple loop trail courses. If you never ran a trail race just set expectations that you will probably be about 20 minutes slower and need to walk a couple short sections. If you have run a trail race this a nice, not super technical but technical enough to keep it interesting type of trail race. The scenery is very pretty but like Yosemite it is mostly forest. There are a few pretty mountain views and a view of a creek but you are mostly looking at trees. I do really enjoy running around trees just don’t sign up the race expecting to run past geysers. Aid stations were frequent though given how isolated areas of the trail were some just had water and some interesting pop up toilets. At the finish line you get your medal. Vacation Races medals are always nice but I think this was the nicest with the 150th anniversary of Yellowstone NP. You also get the snack box. Again they did not have enough challenge medals but took our bib numbers and emailed a form so we would get them. They did send out an email before the race so it wasn’t as disappointing in the moment. They still had the Grand Quad medal which is really cool so I did go home with one extra medal. For the swag for the races I took away a sneaker because of the missing medals but if they were there it would be 5 sneakers. As I expected and planned this was my second slowest half marathon but it was on purpose. I also did this in road shoes even though I had trail shoes because my road shoes were old and I just bought new ones for after the trip and my trail shoes were newish and the course was muddy and I just threw out my muddy road shoes after. It was fine (especially mostly walking) in road shoes but if you want a competitive time or to run most of the course trail shoes would be better. Overall I really enjoyed this race. It was not as scenic as Grand Teton but still a very pretty race. Personally I like the challenge of trail but if you don’t this wouldn’t be my first choice for Montana unless you are planning to combine with other races. If you do like trail races, then definitely run this race. Much like Teton I’m not sure I will do it again given the remote location and expense of the trip but I may come back another year once I finish my race travel goals. I was also lucky I left West Yellowstone a few hours after the race just when it started drizzling and missed the terrible weather that closed the park down. I hope everyone involved with the race and all the other people visiting and living in the Yellowstone area are safe.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    CindyM FIRST-TIMER '22

    Everything from registration to bib pickup to pre-race staging to aid stations, to finsh line etc. was very well done. Volunteers were amazing. Looking forward to my next Vacation Race!! MORE

    Everything from registration to bib pickup to pre-race staging to aid stations, to finsh line etc. was very well done. Volunteers were amazing. Looking forward to my next Vacation Race!!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5
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    If you’re not used to running at high elevation then you may think this will make things tough. Suffice to say, if you pace yourself, it’s ok. A gentle loop … MORE

    If you’re not used to running at high elevation then you may think this will make things tough. Suffice to say, if you pace yourself, it’s ok.

    A gentle loop around West Yellowstone before you head off into the forest. You are running on trail so expect roots, rocks, mud, puddles and people who make it look easy! To be fair it is all pretty good until you hit mile 6 when someone decided to put a long killer hill in. Some may say it is a greater power, personally I blame the race director who could have chosen a flatter route.

    Admittedly that would have made things a lot easier and half the fun of running is testing yourself. It doesn’t matter how long you take, everyone runs the same distance. The scenery was phenomenal, the volunteers were top rate and the organization was second to none.

    The sheer joy when you get within sight of the finish line makes all of the pain and suffering disappear as joy, self belief and satisfaction sweep over you.

    I’ve run nearly 170 half marathon‘s and this is easily in the top 3 with the organization the best I have experienced across a number of countries. Add in the surprise of medals for age group placing and I was over the moon. My wife wasn’t so happy as I was smug for a little too long for here liking!

    I will be back for another Vacation Race and will encourage all I know to fly across the pond to take part. The combination of location and organization make these races unbeatable.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    monson4223 FIRST-TIMER '22

    This is a trail half on dirt and 4x4 roads. This year there was a lot of rain so the ground was soggy and there were lots of puddles to … MORE

    This is a trail half on dirt and 4×4 roads. This year there was a lot of rain so the ground was soggy and there were lots of puddles to navigate around. The race is a beautiful loop course. Parking was easy. There could have been more porta potties at the start.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    alyxpearce19 FIRST-TIMER '22

    This was a slow one for me, coming from sea level, the elevation was tough. I hit a wall around mile 6. The views were gorgeous though and the atmosphere … MORE

    This was a slow one for me, coming from sea level, the elevation was tough. I hit a wall around mile 6. The views were gorgeous though and the atmosphere was amazing! I will absolutely be registering for another Vacation Races race!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    RunninRy42 FIRST-TIMER '22

    This was a very scenic race! My only recommendation is be prepared for anything, since this is mixed trail. There were some rough spots with exposed rocks, and some soft … MORE

    This was a very scenic race! My only recommendation is be prepared for anything, since this is mixed trail. There were some rough spots with exposed rocks, and some soft areas so be careful depending on how their weather has been!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    I had been looking forward to my first Vacation Races experience for months. It was a great opportunity to see Yellowstone with the kids for the first time and what … MORE

    I had been looking forward to my first Vacation Races experience for months. It was a great opportunity to see Yellowstone with the kids for the first time and what a brilliant way to see to it. I did not expect the difference in altitude as I live and run at sea level so this ended up being my slowest half marathon time. However that should not deter anybody from this race as the overall experience was fantastic. I mostly run trails and I really enjoyed how muddy this course was. I lost a shoe in the mud at one point! That was a real laugh as I had to get down and pull it out from the mud with both hands! I wore trail shoes but still lost a shoe! It was a lot of fun and I was smiling for the rest of the race. The course is beautiful and there is one section where you run by beautiful South Fork Madison River toward the end. There is a tough, unrelenting hill at mile 6 which was challenging due to the altitude. Vacation Races does a great job organizing this event. The podcast was very helpful. West Yellowstone was a fun place to stay prior the race with some great places to eat.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    seagroves87 FIRST-TIMER '22

    I did this as part of the Quad and you can read my review of the Yellowstone half for more details. The 5K is 6pm on Friday. I just walked … MORE

    I did this as part of the Quad and you can read my review of the Yellowstone half for more details. The 5K is 6pm on Friday. I just walked over from my hotel around 5pm and it was easy. As I said in the half review, my foot was hurting a bit so I made the decision to just speed walk this 5K. It is similar to the first couple miles of the half with the beginning on road and the rest on non-technical trail. This had the same issue of the Teton 5K with not having a wave start with too much of a mix of pacing but the sectioned coned off on the road and the trail were both really wide so it didn’t affect this race much. There was almost nothing technical in the 5K and it was flat. I wanted to walk it in under 50 minutes and I did that. At the end you get your medal and box of snacks. Again the medal is a baby version of the half medal and is cute to have them side by side.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    colesmelissa93 REPEAT RUNNER '22

    These races are absolutely beautiful. And so much fun. The people really put in such an amazing effort to make a memorable experience. The course was a little challenging but … MORE

    These races are absolutely beautiful. And so much fun. The people really put in such an amazing effort to make a memorable experience. The course was a little challenging but you wouldn’t even notice being in such a beautiful place, with such friendly runners around you.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4
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    alaskey FIRST-TIMER '22

    This was my second worse half marathon. I literally only signed up for this knowing it was a trail race because I wanted to do the Grand Quad, which is … MORE

    This was my second worse half marathon. I literally only signed up for this knowing it was a trail race because I wanted to do the Grand Quad, which is the 5K and Half in Grand Teton the week before and then the 5K and Half in Yellowstone.

    Their production is among the best in the country (and I’m a 50 stater nearing 100 completed half’s–I’ve seen a lot of productions!). Their communication is outstanding, their deferral policy is forgiving, you can even legally transfer your bib.

    This is not a course for a novice or someone just starting to run half marathons. This was a highly technical trail that was brutal and had more than a few walking wounded as a result. The race starts out the same as the 5K on tiny bit of pavement, then chat/gravel and rapidly deteriorates onto Forest Service Roads. The roads were deeply rutted, badly water logged (wet spring) with standing water, deep mud or marsh and no good route through it. Then, they had heavy equipment on the course that had chewed up the road making soft powder, loose rocks, dangerous sticks/branches/logs strewn everywhere you had to pick your way through. I wiped out badly at mile 9 (along with many others apparently, having witnessed at least 2 other wipe outs personally and seeing the bloody mess at the finish line of many more). Mile 9 was rock/boulder/sand and there was no place to pick a path that wasn’t sketchy. The hill from mile 5-7 (no lie, that long) was not runnable, and I live at altitude and train in the foothills. If you’re a flat lander, it’s gonna hurt BAD. I literally NEVER walk in a race and I decided survival required power hiking that.

    I took second AG (which tells you something with that time) (I took home a total of 12 medals for the two weekends of running). Snack box was great (actually went online and to the store to buy more of some of the things in there they were so good) and chocolate milk at the finish is always bonus. They do awards 5 deep at every category which is amazing. The shirts are great too.

    Advice–get your housing situation squared away a year in advance. I was originally registered for 2020 but you know…Covid…When I booked that housing, I waited till maybe 6 months before and there was NOTHING anywhere near the start which would have meant camping and I’m too old to camp before/after a race. This time I learned my lesson and booked a year in advance and found an incredible condo within walking distance of the start and a couple blocks from the park entrance.

    While I loved the production and I loved the medals, I will not run this race again. I will literally have scars to show for it and I prefer to run fast on pavement.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    pbegno Jun 13, 2022 at 8:28pm

    Great Review - Thank YOU - Can you give me the names of the Condos you stayed in for both races? As soon as 2023 opens I want to book

    Great Review - Thank YOU - Can you give me the names of the Condos you stayed in for both races? As soon as 2023 opens I want to book

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    alaskey FIRST-TIMER '22

    I ran the Grand Quad, which is the 5K and Half in Grand Teton the week before and then the 5K and Half in Yellowstone. These were my first Vacation … MORE

    I ran the Grand Quad, which is the 5K and Half in Grand Teton the week before and then the 5K and Half in Yellowstone. These were my first Vacation Races and they did not disappoint. Their production is among the best in the country (and I’m a 50 stater nearing 100 completed half’s–I’ve seen a lot of productions!). Their communication is outstanding, their deferral policy is forgiving, you can even legally transfer your bib.

    This course is tiny bit of pavement followed by chat/gravel, then dirt with some mud. The 5K is essentially flat but you do have to run through a dry culvert with rocks and soft dirt that requires caution to not break a leg. Coming into the finish is a sharp turn on loose gravel that nearly caused me to wipe out. I took second female masters which gets you more bling and an annual park pass (I took home a total of 12 medals for the two weekends of running). Snack box was great (actually went online and to the store to buy more of some of the things in there they were so good) and chocolate milk at the finish is always bonus. They do awards 5 deep at every category which is amazing. The shirts are great too.

    Advice–get your housing situation squared away a year in advance. I was originally registered for 2020 but you know…Covid…When I booked that housing, I waited till maybe 6 months before and there was NOTHING anywhere near the start which would have meant camping and I’m too old to camp before/after a race. This time I learned my lesson and booked a year in advance and found an incredible condo within walking distance of the start and a couple blocks from the park entrance.

    I can’t say enough good about VR. Highly recommend.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    sydneylross FIRST-TIMER '21

    Vacation Races puts on a fantastic and well-organized race! I ran this one the week after their Grand Teton Half and in comparison, the views aren't equal but the course … MORE

    Vacation Races puts on a fantastic and well-organized race! I ran this one the week after their Grand Teton Half and in comparison, the views aren’t equal but the course was nice. Its a little tough in places where its definitely just a trail service road or rocky creek trail. If you aren’t great on balancing, be mindful of your step. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the switch up from road running and getting out into the woods. While there are no mountain views, its still definitely worth the run.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    LucieK REPEAT RUNNER '21

    have had such a wonderful experience. The race was very well organized. Overall just an amazing race, spectacular views, great route. Highly recommended this race or any Vaction Races race. … MORE

    have had such a wonderful experience. The race was very well organized. Overall just an amazing race, spectacular views, great route. Highly recommended this race or any Vaction Races race. I can not wait for my next one;)

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    kparks521970 REPEAT RUNNER '21

    The worst part of the race was the altitude. Was a stretch that was kind of technical. A lot of toe grapping rocks. The fast runners saw a bear. Nice … MORE

    The worst part of the race was the altitude. Was a stretch that was kind of technical. A lot of toe grapping rocks. The fast runners saw a bear. Nice to be on the slow side, because the bears were all scared away. Love the way Vacation Races put on there races, from the energy they produce to the great aid stations.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    50StateRunner50 FIRST-TIMER '21

    The course had one major climb. There was one area that was very technical and uneven. Other than that, the majority of the course was rolling on hard packed trail. … MORE

    The course had one major climb. There was one area that was very technical and uneven. Other than that, the majority of the course was rolling on hard packed trail.

    Vacation races does a great job with production and race swag. There was considerable tree cover and not as much landscape to admire during the run as some other vacation races.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    WTXRunner REPEAT RUNNER '21

    Vacation Races goes an exceptional job in preparing and executing their races. You will enjoy the race - easy check in, well staffed, and clearly marked. MORE

    Vacation Races goes an exceptional job in preparing and executing their races. You will enjoy the race – easy check in, well staffed, and clearly marked.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    kmyres76 FIRST-TIMER '21

    This is a very scenic course with its fair share of challenging hills and rocky technical sections. As the final race in the Grand Quad Challenge, it is the most … MORE

    This is a very scenic course with its fair share of challenging hills and rocky technical sections. As the final race in the Grand Quad Challenge, it is the most difficult of the 4 races, BUT that said, being a week after the first 2 races and having a chance to acclimate, physically this race felt better despite being a greater challenge than Tetons. As always, Vacation Races did not disappoint and I look forward to many more with them.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
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    Aheart10 FIRST-TIMER '21

    I knew this was a trail run but 3 days before the race they sent a terrain email informing of us of people falling, when the hills were and rocky … MORE

    I knew this was a trail run but 3 days before the race they sent a terrain email informing of us of people falling, when the hills were and rocky parts. They claimed we didn’t need trail shoes and we would be just fine. I risked it and didn’t bring trail shoes… boy my ankles would of enjoyed those trail shoes over my regular running shoes. Im a newbie to half’s but not to running but I still pulled that rookie move. Bring trail shoes.
    If you are truly wanting to PR and run this thing it will be difficult to look up and take in your surroundings and the scenery. I swear if I enjoyed the views I would have broken ankles. Nice backdrop during the start and finish. They did staggered starts and didn’t make announcements for the walkers to keep right which made this trial race pretty challenging due to the terrain and dogging other runners. All terrains- gravel, seriously rocky, very rocky, hills, rocky downhill, mud, sand. I seriously saw too many people fall.
    For the altitude I only really felt it on the hill from mile 5-6.something. I live below sea level so I traveled to Denver prior to this race to get used to the altitude and did fine during the race. Overall enjoyable with beautiful weather time of year and a perfect time to visit the park but it will be a one time thing.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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  1. Races
  2. Yellowstone Half Marathon