In an effort to run a half marathon in all 50 states, we signed up for Timpanogos as the second of two half marathons during a trip out west. We’re embarrassed to say we signed up almost as an afterthought, because the race turned out to be one of our favorites.
Packet pickup was held at The Outlets at Traverse Mountain from 10 am to 8 pm on the Friday before the race. While pickup was a modest size, we were jaw-droppingly impressed by the outlets… and we’re not mall people. If you run this race, be sure to visit the restrooms at Traverse Mountain. They’re so impressive you’ll want to sit in the lounge area with a cocktail. The actual packet pickup was staffed by a few vendors. KT Tape was taping runners up for free, RooSport was selling their fitness pouches (www.theroosport.com), and the usual running wares were being sold by a third vendor.
To pick up our actual race packet we looked up our names in a binder, located our bib numbers, and wrote them on the Timp Half card provided by race organizers. At a second table we handed over our cards and were given our bibs, gender specific technical shirts, and a drawstring Timp Half bag that included some generous coupons. For an extra four dollars, women had the option at this race to upgrade from their gender specific short sleeve t-shirts to a women’s running tank. One of us upgraded her shirt and was glad she did. Rumor has it that the women’s t-shirts were running extremely small and many participants needed to trade up a size on race day morning.
Hotels are everywhere along I-15, the interstate that runs between Salt Lake City and American Fork. Since there are no hotel options within walking distance to either the start or the finish line, choose any option along I-15 in the American Fork/Lehi/Timpanogos area.
Places to Eat
Much like hotels, places to eat were nearly limitless. Runners can choose their food type (American? Thai? Southwestern? Fast? Local?) Its all there in American Fork. Our race swag bags included a free chicken biscuit from Chick-Fil-A. Runners looking to save a few dollars can always go where their race coupons take them.
Course and Fan Support
This was probably the earliest we’ve ever had to wake up for a race, and it was well worth it. Runners were bused from American Fork High School between 4 am and 5 am to Tibble Fork Reservoir, the race start. The 6 am start allowed for a few things. First, runners got to watch the sunrise over the canyon while still witnessing the giant blue moon hanging in the sky. Second, the early start kept us out of the heat that spiked during later hours in the day. Temperatures were an ideal fifty degrees at the top of the canyon at race start and rose gradually to sixty-five degrees as we descended to the bottom of the canyon. The course took us down American Fork Canyon along Alpine Loop Scenic Byway. The road was closed to traffic coming down the mountain, though open to cars going up.
We had nearly an hour to wait between being dropped off by the race shuttles and beginning the race, which left us plenty of time to stand in the manageable port-a-let lines and do some warming up before running. It was chilly at the top of the mountain (for just standing around) so we recommend taking advantage of the bag drop. Wear extra layers that you can remove a few minutes before race start; it will make for a more comfortable waiting period. Bag drop was super-easy, and required us only to toss our bags on a bus based on our bib number before walking a few steps to the starting line.
Timpanogos Half Marathon has a course for nature lovers. Between the sunrise, full moon, Tibble Fork Reservoir, American Fork River, and views of the canyon, there was always a view to appreciate while descending nearly 1800 feet from the race start to the finish. We found the descent to be manageable, especially compared to the race we completed the previous weekend, which dropped about 1400 feet in only five miles. While our quads and calves were still sore from racing seven days prior, we never felt like the descent at Timpanogos was impossible. Actually, we felt like it was downright enjoyable.
Because of the road closing, there were few spectators in the canyon. Once we exited, there were some super-enthusiastic friends and family members cheering runners on along the Cedar Hills trail system and Murdock Canal trail. The tiny rolling hills along both trails were a pleasant contrast to the constant downhill of the first eight miles of the race.
The race finished under an inflatable arch on the track at American Fork High School. Tons of spectators were here cheering on finishers as volunteers draped impressive finisher medals around the necks of those who had completed the race.
The post-race festivities were held on the back corner of the track at American Fork High School. Because of the crowds, it was a challenge to pour a cup of water and grab a Creamies ice pop or some Chick-Fil-A before waiting in line for a photo-op. Photos for this race were free, so lines were appropriately long!
The awards ceremony began around 9 o’clock, with overall winners and age group winners of the 5K race called first. Age group winners received a second medal to complement their finisher medals.
If we lived in the area, we would run this race every year simply for the stunning views offered by the race’s course. We would have loved to experience this race on fresh legs, rather than ones that were still sore from a half marathon the weekend before. A little pain in the quads and calves still did not detract from our enjoyment at Timpanogos. We say run this race if given the opportunity!
Tips for Running a Successful Timpanogos Half Marathon
- Run hill repeats to prepare for the 1800 foot descent of this course. Run up a hill, then run race pace down, and repeat.
- Don’t worry about wearing sunglasses. Of the 13.1 miles, we only felt like we needed them for about a mile.
- Take advantage of the bag drop. It’s cold at Tibble Fork Reservoir (the race start) and you’ll be waiting for about an hour for the race to begin. Bring warm clothes and shed them shortly before the gun goes off.
For more information visit http://timphalf.com/.