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A Roundup of Unique Vacation Races in Utah

Start planning the portmanteau of Utah getaways: the racecation.

By Melinda Rhodes
February 09, 2024

Pack your Oofos and your Body Glide. Whether you’re visiting Utah for the first time or have lived here your entire life, these destination races are shoo-ins for runners or riders of all ages and all abilities. And you don’t have to be an elite athlete to participate in one of these annual events. A racecation is for anyone who enjoys staying fit, meeting new people and seeing picturesque places from a different point of view. 

From the Valley Above to the City Below

Al Capone got it all wrong. Ogden ain’t rough. It’s vibrant and charming, filled with independent eateries for pre-race carb loading and a herd of handpainted fiberglass horses scattered about to celebrate the annual Pioneer Days rodeo. In the valley above Ogden, you’ll find plenty of luxurious lodging options with hot tubs for soaking the post-race aches away. 

Ogden Marathon | full, half, relay, 12K, 5K | May

This downhill qualifier for the Boston Marathon starts in Huntsville, snakes through Ogden Canyon and finishes on Historic 25th Street in downtown Ogden. 

Spartan Trifecta | obstacles: sprint, super, beast, kids; no obstacles: 10K trail run | July 

Snowbasin ain’t just for skiing, folks. The world-class resort boasts 26 miles of beautiful summer hiking and biking trails, through which this race course careens.  

Wildflower Trailfest | 6-mile trail run, 6-mile MTB ride, 15-mile MTB ride | July 

Grab your favorite females — this non-competitive event held at Power Mountain is for women only. And yes, you will be pedaling past pretty petals. (Say that five times fast!)

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Red Dirt Don’t Hurt

You thought Moab was only for climbers and mountain bikers who personify #vanlife? Wrong-o, Joe Schmo. Comfortable temps in the spring and fall, combined with a truly iconic landscape make this the place to run or cycle. Lodging options run the gamut from kitschy motels to safari-inspired glampgrounds and haute hotel rooms.   

Canyonlands Half | half marathon, 5 miler | March

This race takes place on a closed highway near the Colorado River and Arches National Park. No wonder it was mentioned in Runners World UK as one of “The World’s Greatest Races.”

Thelma & Louise | 50K, full, half, 15K | April

Today the ladies aren’t running from the law. They are running for adventure on smooth jeep trails, rocky double-tracks and other terrain. Men? Not allowed … even if they do look like Brad Pitt.

Moab Century Tour | 100 miles | September

Though this isn’t a competitive event, it is still worth training and traveling for. Riders who make the quadbusting climbs are rewarded with gobsmacking views and canyon-carving descents.

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Mountains With Momentum

Two of the highest peaks in Utah are found in the Wasatch Range, but every mountain here is famous for being skiable, bikeable and hikeable. As for the streets in the cities below? Though usually drivable, they are closed at certain times of the year to make them oh-so-runnable. After the race, sit down … but please don’t shut up. Sing your heart out at a piano bar in Salt Lake or chortle audibly at a comedy club in Provo.  

Salt Lake City Marathon | full, half, 10K, 5K, kids K, bike | April 

From the 2002 Olympic Legacy Bridge to Memory Grove Park, Eagle Gate Monument, Temple Square and beyond, see some of the most famous landmarks in our capital city along this course.

Utah Valley Marathon | marathon, half, handcycle half, 10K, 5K, kids K | June 

Another fast, downhill qualifier for the Boston Marathon, the full course follows the Provo River and finishes in historic downtown Provo.

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All Roads Lead to Zion

There are also a couple of national series coming to southern Utah in May — one on the east side of Zion, the other on the west. But we don’t like to pick sides. So we’re just going to encourage you to visit our most popular national park in conjunction with one of these epic competitions.

Ironman 70.3 | 56-mile cycle + 13.1-mile run + 1.2-mile swim, kids fun run | May

Complete this endurance event and you’ve earned bragging rights for life. And may we also suggest a post-race massage?

Ragnar Trail Zion | 200-mile team relay | May

Sleep? Who needs sleep? One of the highlights of this two-day event is running under a dark sky full of stars. But the daytime views of Checkerboard Mesa in ZNP ain’t too shabby either.

St. George Marathon | marathon, half, 5K, fun run walk n’ roll | October

Fun fact: Altra Running’s founder, Golden Harper, ran the full at the tender age of 12 … in 2:45:34. While most people aren’t going to set a world record on this course like he did, it is still a world of fun to run.   

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Cornering the Competition

Nobody puts Baby in the corner. She’s a dancer, and these events in the two farthest corners of our state are for cyclists and runners. The scenery is still cinematic, however. In one corner, you’ll find evergreens and mountain passes. In the other? Lots of rock in solid shades of red, as well as formations showing of white, orange and pink striations.

LOTOJA Classic | 200(ish) mile cycle | September

This scenic course starts in Utah’s topmost corner (Logan = LO) and crosses the western border, climbing and winding its way through Idaho and into (Jackson = JA) Wyoming.  

Bears Ears Marathon | full, half | November

Another Boston qualifier? Yep. This one starts in Blanding, a small town in the southwest corner of Utah, descends through White Mesa, past a butte-iful national monument of the same animal name, finishing in Bluff.  

Looking for more things to do in our six-sided state? Utah.com has ideas for everything — from single-day events to weekend getaways and weeklong trip itineraries.