This was my 16th half marathon and 10th state and possibly one of my favorite half marathons ever! The Jackson Hole Hole-Half is at a higher altitude than many may be used to, however it is a VERY small half marathon (they also offer a full marathon there as well). The race is run almost entirely on their amazing bike paths and very well-marked. You get picked up at the base of their ski mountain (by the finish) and take a shuttle 13 miles back from the finish near the Teton Science School. The overall course is mainly flat (it loses a bit of elevation within the first few miles) and then gradually increases elevation over the remaining 7ish miles. I think the entire half-marathon maybe had 250 runners, so the field is pretty small and I was often running by myself (especially towards the end), which made for the experience different than those big-city races and pretty nice to really step back and enjoy the scenery!
We camped the night before about 55 minutes from the finish line (and shuttle area) at the Fireside Resort Buffalo Valley, which was a nice campground, but a really long drive to get there (we saw the biggest moose we've ever seen driving in right next to the road). There aren't a TON of camping options by this race course (which was a disappointment) and all of the hotels were pretty expensive (given it's held over Labor Day weekend), so camping was definitely a good option (just remember to give yourself plenty of drive-time before the last shuttle leaves). Plus, the views from our tent the night before the race was amazing.
The start area was pretty small and they didn't even blow a gun when it was time just announced it over a microphone. It was REALLY chilly at the start (temperatures in mid-30's), but we were able to stay on the heated bus until 15 minutes before start time which was super amazing.
After the first few miles were VERY chilly, I started to warm-up and got to enjoy all of the natural beauty that this race has to offer. You have sweeping views of the farmlands, cows, and Grand Tetons almost the entire time. It's a really great race to just ENJOY running- I know I most certainly did! It was also really nice to never have to worry about getting elbowed by crowded courses because this one was pretty small. It's very well-marked (I turned off my auto mile alerts on my Garmin) and I only glanced at my watch twice. One thing to remember for this course is that it is a CUPLESS event, so you'll have to bring your own hydration (which is fine if you train on long runs with something, just bring that). They had several stations lined up with jugs full of water and Gatorade, so you could always fill up if needed. I ended up just drinking from my already full water bottle of Nuun & took 2 Honey Stinger Gels (one at mile 6 and one at mile 10).
There wasn't a lot of fan-fare along the course, so if you want a lot of cheerleaders this race may not be for you. I truly enjoyed the quietness of the race and just having that time to 'zone-out' to my music and focus on keeping my breathing nice and easy. It never got super warm-out along the course (it starts at 7am) and by the time I finished at 9, the temperature was perfect!
The last .1 of the race finishes on a grassy area up a hill, but I'm so glad that I left a lot in the gas tank for that kick! I also had 2 runners close behind me saying 'ok give it a final kick', so I knew I didn't want them to pass me! I live for that kind of adrenaline.
The medals were SO pretty and they also had a bunch of race swag to purchase (if you're into that). I already have so much race swag that I decided to save my money.
Alex had to finish packing up the tent after he dropped me off at the shuttle, so he wasn't able to make it back in time to see me finish (which is fine), but that did give me enough time to just relax and enjoy the base area of their Ski Mountain. We also grabbed the most amazing breakfast sandwich (bacon, egg, cheese) at the local coffee shop that is at the finish, which was SO perfect.
The race also finishes right where the Tram is, so that was SO fun to watch. It's SO giant and carries you up to almost the top of the ski mountain.
I ended up finishing 4th in my age group and honestly felt like I could've gone out and run another 10 miles easy! I didn't 'race' it like I had originally planned (probably could've gotten 3rd in my AG) and felt amazing after I finished, but since I was still dealing with a nasty head cold and major congestion I knew not pushing myself to exhaustion was key to recovering and getting 100% healthy. Plus, I have some pretty major goals coming up this Fall!