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Bryce Canyon Ultras

May 18, 2024

runner at bryce canyon ultras

Bryce Canyon Ultras is a scenic Utah mountain course that runs around the northern half and western edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau, offering spectacular views above and below the hoodoos. The race is run at high elevation, with most miles on this rugged course between 7,000 – 9,000 ft which is one reason we at Strambecco consider this to be one of the Best Trail Running Events in the Southwest. The event is a qualifier event for both the UTMB World Series and the Western States 100.  Bryce Canyon Ultras comprises four distance options, 50 Mile, 60K, 50K, and 30K, however organizers plan to offer the 100 mile option again in 2024. Check out Relive to explore interactive maps of the course as well as thorough course descriptions on the organizer’s website.

The event is produced by Vacation Races, who pride themselves on producing meticulously organized running events at the world’s most breathtaking destinations.  Bryce Canyon National Park, a sprawling reserve in southern Utah, is known for crimson-colored hoodoos, which are spire-shaped rock formations. Hoodoos (irregular columns of rock) exist on every continent, but here is the largest concentration on Earth. Situated along a high plateau at the top of the Grand Staircase, the park’s high elevations include numerous life communities, fantastic dark skies, and geological wonders that defy description. Vacation Races produce several UTMB World Series and Western States qualifiers races, including Zion Ultras, Antelope Canyon Ultras, and Bryce Canyon Ultras.

Awards presented at the finish line include a finisher medal and specialty awareness for each course. The Ultras include special awards for the top three male and female finishers.  There are aid stations throughout each course, a mix of water-only and full stations with food supplies and medical support. A finish line is a welcoming place with supporters, your fellow participants, and many amenities like a recovery area with food, beverages, and a medical tent. Check out the official 2023 Race Guide for all of the important details.

The area around the race is a bit remote, however there are lodging options in nearby towns of Hatch, Panguitch, or Bryce. For those that are up for primitive camping, there is convenient $40 drive up camping available just for the event – no reservation required – and $10 showers available at nearby Riverside Ranch. After the event, explore everything that Bryce Canyon country has to offer. Beyond the National Park, you can enjoy fishing in the Seveir River or Panguitch Lake, enjoy a drive on Highway 12 Scenic Byway, or explore Dixie National Forest.

The Western States 100 is the grandaddy of ultra-running events.  It is an epic 100-mile trail run from Olympic Valley to Auburn, CA, in one day on the last weekend of June. It is the world’s oldest 100 trail race, starting in 1974 as one of the ultimate endurance tests. Over the course, runners will climb more than 18,000 feet and descend 23,000 feet.  See the dedicated Western States Endurance Run website for details on the lottery process, training, support, and volunteer opportunities. Participants must qualify for the race within two years and enter the lottery. If you are selected as part of the lottery, you are officially sent details to register within two weeks. If not completed in time, the registration will be available to runners on the waitlist of 50-75 people.  Nearby qualifying races include Black Canyon Ultras, Moab Trail Marathon & Half Marathon, and Canyon Endurance Runs. Register and plan for the ultimate experience that will challenge your endurance.

UTMB World Series is the ultimate global trail running series uniting the sport’s biggest stars and amateur runners through a leading international event series in the most stunning locations.  The UTMB World Series gives all trail runners a chance to experience UTMB events worldwide, with 25 events taking place across Asia, Oceania, Europe, and the Americas in 2022. It is the only place runners can begin their quest to UTMB Mont-Blanc, home of the prestigious UTMB World Series Finals.  The UTMB World Series integrates three levels of events:

  • UTMB World Series Finals
  • UTMB World Series Majors
  • UTMB World Series Events

To qualify to enter the lottery for Finals or Major events, you must collect a “Running Stone” by finishing qualifier events in the 20k, 50k, 100k, or 100M categories.  Only 1 Running Stone acquired in the past two years is mandatory to enter the lottery. Running Stones are cumulative, have no expiration date, and each Running Stone gives you an additional chance to be drawn.  Collecting Running Stones is the only way to access regular runners’ UTMB World Series Finals.  Discover the events that will allow you to collect Running Stones in 2023 to enter the UTMB Mont-Blanc lottery from 2023 onwards here.

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