-- Dehn, your Zion Half Race Director, did a Facebook Live about these updates. Watch it here. --
Somewhat unexpectedly, the town of Springdale has denied our permit to finish our race in their town. The 2021 Zion Half Marathon is not being cancelled, but it is being drastically changed. Please read on.
The town has expressed concerns over the rising COVID cases in Washington County and the unique challenges and concerns their community faces. Despite our insistence that the event poses minimal risk and our confidence in our modified operational plan and ability to safely and responsibly hold an event that is compliant with COVID guidelines, the town is not comfortable hosting the event.
As event organizers, we have two immediate instincts: 1) to show how our event is 100% within compliance of guidelines and demand a permit, and 2) to respect the concerns of permitting agencies, to be a positive impact on our host communities, and foster good relationships that contribute to the well being of the event for years to come. In this instance, it would not be possible for our event to be completely compliant with the guidelines and restrictions the town of Springdale has put in place, and any effort to further press the issue would not only be unlikely to yield favorable results, but would also break existing relationships that allow this event to continue year after year. Here is the town’s refusal in their own words:
“The Town of Springdale's unique setting and demographics make our community especially vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. The Town has an older than average population which places a larger percentage of our population at high risk for contracting the disease. The Town has only one part-time medical clinic and is located over an hour away from the nearest emergency room meaning there are limited resources to fight an outbreak of the disease. In the face of these elevated risk factors the Town also hosts visitors from throughout the country. The Town has a responsibility to be extra vigilant in defending against a COVID-19 outbreak because of the constant threat of visitors bringing the virus with them. For all these reasons the Town has been and will continue to be proactive in protecting its residents from COVID-19.
As we discussed in our meeting earlier this month, the Town of Springdale has taken a leadership role in actively fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and public health crisis. The Town was the first in Southern Utah to issue a town-wide mask mandate. The Town has cancelled all Town-sponsored events throughout the course of the pandemic. The Town does not allow rentals of Town-owned facilities. Public Town meetings are conducted virtually to avoid large gatherings. The Town has taken these proactive steps to help fight the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to be proactive in the fight against COVID-19 through the regulation of public events that require permitting in the Town.
Section 10-22-4(F)(8) of the Town Code allows the Town to deny an application for an event permit if the proposed event would pose a significant danger or threat to the public health, safety, or welfare.
The Town finds protecting public health in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is a compelling, countervailing public interest that would be jeopardized by approving an event permit for the Zion Half Marathon. Therefore, the Town will not approve a large outdoor event permit for the Zion Half Marathon this year.
We appreciate Vacation Races' past cooperation with the Town and your sensitivity to our unique needs. We have enjoyed working with you during prior years and look forward to welcoming your event in Town once the pandemic has ended.”
So what does that mean for you?
Well, every runner’s situation is unique. This event is NOT BEING CANCELLED, but it is being DRAMATICALLY CHANGED. Here are a few things to be aware of that will affect all of you:
The biggest change is the course.
- This will no longer start in Virgin, UT and end in Springdale, UT. The course will start and end in Apple Valley, UT.
- This course is a dirt road and trail combination. Although the trail portion (~8miles) is not terribly technical, it is single track with fewer aid stations. This is 100% a trail run.
- More details, maps, and course description can be found below.
Here are some photos from the course:
**The bottom right photo is not actually part of the course. This was a photo opp that you can get to easily from the course. No part of this course is dangerous and should you have a fear of heights or anything, we don't think you'll have any issues.
We will try to have more aid stations than a traditional trail run, but there will still be fewer than we would normally have on the Zion Half Course. There will be 5 (down from 6) near mile 3, 5, 6, 7, and 10. Mile 7 will be water ONLY. All of our events are cup free, but with one fewer aid station and no aid stations from mile 10 - Finish means runners should plan to be self supported for those miles (for example: if you know you’ll need hydration in those 3 miles, you should bring a water bottle, belt, pack. Etc. something to carry your hydration in).
All parking and runner drop-off will be at the start line on private property in Apple Valley. With the new location, consider carpooling if you are staying in Springdale.
There will not be any shuttles to the start line. The finish line is a short 3 miles away from the parking area. All runners will be shuttled back to the parking area.
Expo and Bib Pickup
The expo (which will likely be a drive-thru bib pickup with our merch tent setup) will be held in the same location as our start line in Apple Valley. Due to the distance from Springdale, if you are staying there you might want to consider adjusting your registration to have your bib shipped to you ahead of time to avoid making the trip out here on Friday. You can do this by following the below instructions. We will also have bib pickup race morning at the start line.
- Log in to RunSignUp
- Click on Profile
- Click on Manage Registration
- Click on Add Ons at the top of the page
- Make changes
- Click Continue
With the change of the start/finish line, your current lodging arrangements might be less convenient. Apple Valley is on the south side of Zion. There are three ways Apple Valley is connected to Springdale:
- SR-9 to SR-59 through Hurricane (main road)
- Sheep Bridge Rd (dirt road)
- Smithsonian Butte Rd (dirt road - high clearance vehicle only)
SR-9 to SR-59
Sheep Bridge Rd
Smithsonian Butte Rd
Springdale is still the best choice for staying near the park, but with this venue change both Virgin and Springdale become less convenient for race morning. Hurricane and La Verkin are much closer for race day.
All runners who cannot attend or these changes are too drastic for them to adjust their plans to accommodate can defer their registration with no deferment fee. You can request a deferment on your own by following these instructions:
- Log in to RunSignup
- Manage Registration
- Click Defer at the top of the page
- Confirm Deferment
- Complete Deferment - if the race you want to transfer into isn't open yet or you're not sure which race you want to run, you can leave your deferment at this step and log back in once registration is open to complete deferment.
**Runners who used deferred credit or used a coupon to register and wish to defer because of these event changes will need to contact us by emailing email@example.com - if this does not apply to you you do not need to email customer service.
This may appear to come in the eleventh hour, too late for participants. But I assure you we have been working to be as transparent as possible and reach these conclusions as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, these big decisions and changes often don’t come until the last couple months leading up to an event.
We know this is unexpected, and we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding. Obviously, these are some big changes. This course is SPECTACULAR… but so very different from what you may be expecting. If you can adjust your expectations and get in the headspace to prepare for this course and some of these changes, you are going to have an amazing time. I’m not blowing smoke. This is my favorite trail to run and will be an amazing experience. This is not a “Plan B” in quality, it is just so very different from our Plan A. The differences are significant, but not bad. If you can make these adjustments and join us, you will not regret it. That being said, I know these changes might throw a wrench in your plans. You might have chosen lodging based off course start/finish. You might be planning travel based on the shuttles we were going to have. Lots of details go into your planning to travel and participate in an event. We get it. Hopefully this information is enough of a resource to help you make necessary changes (if you need to). If this is all too disruptive, we get that too. We would invite you to defer your race entry and come run this race with us in 2022 or run one of our other races!
As always, we appreciate our community and are doing our best to put on the best events for you we can. Zion will be spectacular and unforgettable. We hope to see you there.