Zion 100 : Discover the geological wonders of southern Utah

17 Nov 2011 06:01
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Focus on a race Interview

§staticmap(10370,5,450,250)On May 11th 2012, you’ll be organizing the Zion 100. Can you tell us where it is located?

We will start and finish in the small town of Virgin, UT which is about 15 minutes from the main entrance to Zion National Park and half that distance to the park boundary on Kolob Reservoir road.

Virgin is about 2 hours and 15 minutes by car from Las Vegas, Nevada.

How old is the race and why was it created in the first place?

This is our first year. The event was created because a few locals were asking ourselves why we were driving such long distances to attend ultrarunning events when the trails we train on right here are so amazing.

Credit : The Zion 100
What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?

It’s a figure 8 loop course. It’s got a lot of variation in the trail with smooth and fast sections, technical slickrock, steep rocky scrambles, and even a little sand.

Overall, about half of the course is on technical sections and half is pretty mild.

The course puts most of its miles in on top of three gorgeous mesas near Zion National Park and actually cuts through a corner of the park for about a mile and a half.

It’s an open desert in the lower elevations between the mesas which will throw in an added challenge for runners.

How many runners do you expect on Friday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract?

We’ve had a lot more interest than originally anticipated and we’ll probably have to cap each race at 100 entrants. While our permits allow us for more runners, we want to keep things manageable for our first year.

We have a lot of volunteers from the community on board already and we’re optimistic that we can put on a quality event.

Credit : The Zion 100
Do you organize other races during the Week-End? If so, on what distances?

Yes. We’ll be doing a 50 miler on Saturday that mostly shadows the second half of the 100 mile run.

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

Spring weather down here is full of surprises. Afternoon temperatures out in the open can reach up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit on a bad day.

We also see snow up on the mesas in May on a bad day, so runners will have to be prepared for both extremes. Each extreme brings its own element of challenge and beauty.

Have you planned festivities around the marathon?

Runners can turn in their race bibs for a free drink at the post race party in Springdale where a favorite local band will be playing.

Credit : The Zion 100
The race finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Springdale before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?

Springdale (located at the main entrance to the park) has it all. There are several outstanding dining options for all appetites.

Oscar’s is a personal favorite. Obviously, you’ll want to get out and see the main canyon of the national park.

If you stay at the Cable Mountain Lodge (10% discount for runners), you’ll only need to walk across the footbridge about a hundred yards from the hotel to get on the shuttle bus into Zion Canyon for sightseeing on Sunday.

While Saturday night you probably won’t feel like doing much more than soaking in the hot tub and staring at the surrounding cliffs in the moonlight, those with a little spunk left in them might want to head over to the Bit and Spur saloon and restaurant.

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Zion 100?
The course has got to be one of the most scenic out there. If you have the even slightest hint of desert rat in your blood, then this run is for you.

Credit : The Zion 100


Interview with Matt Gunn, Race director. Matt grew up on the trails of southern Utah but just recently moved back. After a 15 year absence roaming the globe, he can better appreciate the unique geological features and amazing trails in the area. He teaches Spanish and P.E. at a local middle school and currently reside in a little town called Toquerville, which is only ten minutes from the starting line of the Zion 100.