This was such a fun race! I would do another Vacation Races event again, but probably not this one (there are just so many other places to see). This was my first time in Yellowstone and I had been planning this trip before I even heard about this race.
The Expo was ok. It was pretty small, but I really am not that big of a fan of race expos anyway. They did have some birds from a nearby rescue facility come in and I thought that was cool. I work with birds of prey and I always like seeing them. They had some nice race merchandise, but nothing outstanding.
I thought the course was pretty hilly, though the elevation map says otherwise (my Garmin was acting weird so it’s not a good indicator).
It was very pretty though. I don’t think you can run through better country. They joked (or were they joking) a lot about getting eaten by bears, but the trails we were on seemed to be pretty well visited by humans. It was mostly pretty level trail, but a few parts went into more rocky territory. I saw a few people fall, but not many.
The elevation change was tough for someone who lives at sea level, but not terrible. I had to change my intervals up a little, but I wanted to take lots of photos anyway, so it was no big deal. They had emergency personally in ATVs on the course, and apparently someone to scout for bears.
After the Race & Discounts:
I’m not accustomed to doing halves outside of Disney World, but the after the race stuff was pretty sparse. I wouldn’t expect much more for just a half, but you might. I think trail runs are usually sparse (this was my first and it wasn’t a real trail run). They had a few snacks. Not a big deal to me. I headed into town for one of the race restaurant sponsors. My mom and I attempted to eat at The Branch. We both ordered salads. The lady was swamped. We came in and there was hardly anyone there and then a whole crowd of people came in. I felt bad for her. I was planning on tipping her the cost of my meal actually, because I could tell she was really over whelmed, but then we waited and waited almost two hours (for salads, but in fairness everyone was waiting at that point). Eventually, food for people who arrived after us started coming out; burgers, fries, sandwiches. Some people had come in and sat about 30 minutes and she brought THEIR food out. We decided to just walk out (actually, I told her I wanted a ticket to pay for my tea, which she had never refilled). It was really a mess. I hope they get more staff and prepare next year if they do the race again.
We also went to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery center, which was pretty cool. The best food we had in West Yellowstone was at a little Mexican spot right outside that place (and cheap, even without the discount). Skip the race restaurants and go with something else. The other race restaurant we ate at (Gusher’s) wasn’t that great.
Overall, I think Vacation Races did a great job. It was a challenging course, but not so challenging you couldn’t enjoy Yellowstone after. They had a few perks and I saw plenty of race support. I’d do another VR race.