Sunday, October 23, 2022

2022 Haunted Half 5K Race Recap - Salt Lake City, UT

Post race photo with the headless horseman

Official Time: 23:24
Placement: 6th in age age group, 42nd male
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: mid 60's, 20 mph winds from the south
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2021] [2020]

Mile TimeComments
17:31Rocket start. A few tiny hills but 100 feet of downhill.
27:33Repeat of the first mile.  Spurts of speed but cruising
37:38Lost a bit of time running into the finisher's chute
3.100:45Stopped my watch late, probably ran this a little faster.
Total Miles: 3.10: 23:29

At the bib expo the day before the race.


One of the premiere events to do during the Halloween season is Runtastic's Haunted Half races. It is a heavily attended races set in Salt Lake County and Utah County that offers a 5K and half marathon distance.  They usually get over a 1500 runners for their races, so the competition can be fierce for one of their coveted award medals.

For the past 2 years I've signed up for the Salt Lake edition.  Each year the course has been different. The first year was around the neighborhood's of the downtown zoo -- which were very hilly.  The next year was around a park in the downtown area.  This year, was a super fast course that involved bus transportation 3 miles up a canyon and you ran until you hit the zoo area. This course promised fast times and it certainly delivered!

The Race

As stated above, the race was set to start at 8:00 AM about 3 miles up Emigration Canyon.  When the settlers first arrived in Utah some 150 years ago, they took this route into the Salt Lake Valley.  

Now it is a well traveled scenic route that is lined with hills, hiking trails and expensive houses nestled on the sides of the canyon.

When I arrived at the race site, the bus loading was packed and lined up well over several hundred people deep.  They had instructed us to arrive by 6:55 and at 6:45 they already had a problem.

It wasn't until 7:15 that I was on a bus and about 10 minutes later dropped 3 miles up the canyon.  On the way there, I had taken stock of the course -- it was going to be a fast one.  And I was suddenly questioning my decision on wearing very thin racing shoes.

The weather had been threatening rain but it was supposed to arrive later in the day.  We did get some sprinkles, but all things considered the 30 minute wasn't too inhospitable.

Surprisingly the race started on time despite the bus fiasco.  

I had lined up close to the start and in the final minutes I was debating how hard I wanted to run this.  Certainly the course was going to be fast but could I count it as a personal record given that it had over 450 feet of elevation drop?  I decided to give it a max effort -- it was a race after all and if it did turn out to be a person record for me, I could always highlight it with an asterisk.

From the get go there was a pretty strong wind coming up the canyon.  At times, it seemed like gale force winds and other times it buffeted you from the sides.  The wind was coming from the south but it had found its way into the canyon.

I rocketed off to a 7:31 first mile.  I had presumed the course was primarily downhill, but there were a few rollers in there to make it a somewhat honest course.  At times, I drafted off of larger runners.

I knew I had gone out too fast but I also knew I could coast most of the race.  That even if my pace dropped off, I'd be assisted by gravity.  

I was thoroughly enjoying the race though.  The downhill wasn't as quad smashing as I thought it was going to be. 

The race was packed but I was never hindered except maybe at the very start.  I found myself with some pretty strong spurts of energy as I cruised down the hill.  I was feeling super strong and hit the mile 2 with another 7:35 mile.

I actually was a bit surprised that this mile wasn't faster but I also knew I had hit some headwind.  I couldn't imagine this course with a trail wind though.  

Mile 3 got a bit more realistic and my pace dropped a bit.  Most of the massive downhills had ended and the wind definitely seemed to pick up.  There were a few less people to draft behind and clearly I was hurting.  I was on target for a great race, but I had to hold it just a little longer.

Finally the finish line's Halloween set up came into view.  I could hear music playing and could hear the echo of the announcer.  As I exited the canyon I tried to get an idea of where and how this course was going to end and when to start my final sprint.

There didn't appear to be anyone in my age group but that didn't mean that someone had started well behind me and was going to beat me.

My only complaint about the course was the final home stretch.  After exiting the canyon, the finish line pretty much immediately appeared and we had to hang a quick left into the park. I glanced at my watch and I figured there was no way the remaining distance would be 3.10 miles. The course -- after all the mile markers were spot on -- was going to be well short.

Fortunately I was wrong.  However, I did have to run through a darkened tunnel with streamers hanging from the ceiling.  It was part of the Halloween thing and it definitely slowed me and everyone else down.  I simply for the life of me couldn't plow through it.  

After exiting the tunnel I had another 100 yards or so before making a sharp turn and finishing under the Runtastic arches.  This was all done on grass and it was flat -- so the finish -- while usually my fastest -- was my slowest segment of the race.  So much for a finishing kick.  Best of all though the course was spot on 3.10 miles.  So it was a legitimate race distance.


So I ran really well on this one.  According to my Garmin, I had about 450 feet of drop and only about 50 feet of uphill.  I suspect there was a bit more uphill and the headwind definitely slowed me up.  

I am not sure whether to count this race as personal record worthy but I ran well all things considered.

Post race refreshments were donuts, juice, Powerade, and water.  They also had candy and fruit.  It was a well stocked finish line.

Sadly, I placed 6th in my age group.  I knew one other 50 - 54 year old who I knew would beat me, but I didn't expect this race to be so competitive.

The race shirt was nicely designed but it isn't 100% polyester (60 / 40).  The medal was weird -- didn't seem very Halloween themed but I am not much of a medal freak.  It's always nice to get one but they usually wind up in a box by the end of the week.

I paid $20 for the race a year in advance during one of their sales.  It was well worth the price of admission.

Upcoming Races

10/29: 2022 Haunted Half Provo 5K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
11/05: 2022 Vineyard Blizzard 5K - Vineyard, UT (Confirmed)
11/19: 2022 Snow Canyon Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)
11/24: 2022 South Davis Recreation Center Thanksgiving Day 5K - Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
01/14: 2023 St George Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)
02/26: 2023 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)
03/04: 2023 March Madness 10K - West Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
04/22: 2023 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
08/19: 2023 Rock 'N Roll Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)

Sunday, October 16, 2022

2022 BYU Homecoming Cougar 5K Race Recap - Provo, UT

Official Time: 24:20
Placement: 7th in the 50 - 59, 113th overall
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 50's, sunny, breeze from the south
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2017]

Mile TimeComments
18:15Jammed start.  Mostly up hill on this mile. Felt slower
27:40Finally opened up and had some downhill.  Was hauling here
37:53Ran out of gas at about mile 2.5.  Turned it back on though
3.050:18Track finish.
Total Miles: 3:05 - 24:06


It's hard to resist a $15 5K.  With prices climbing on just about everything, it is nice to still find a bargain for a race.  

I'll be upfront.  I am not a huge BYU fan by any means (the football team).  When in Utah you basically pick one of two teams: BYU or the Utah Utes.  In a rivalry game, I'll always take the Utes but that doesn't mean I hate the BYU Cougars.  They are both from Utah so if either team wins I am happy.

The race is held on the track at Brigham Young University and this year's edition meanders off onto the campus for 3.1 miles.

This year's edition had a completely different course than the one I ran in 2017, so something new to experience.

The Race

I had to park quite far from the track -- maybe a quarter mile or so.  With an upcoming football game and the race (drawing over 500 runners). They had a great organizational system though.  Find your bib number on a sheet and grab your number from one of the many volunteers.  They had it well staged so I had my bib and shirt within a minute of arriving.

With about 25 minutes to spare, I did a quick warmup.  I did some drills, strides, and some easy jogging to loosen up.

The race had a funny start time: 9;45 to be exact.  With about 5 minutes to spare, we lined up on the track and started off.  

My first surprise was that the race was NOT chip timed.  We had a timing chip on the back of our bib but the start had no crossing mat.  I had started about 100 - 150 people behind the front runners and it had already cost me about 15 seconds.

Almost immediately the race became a standstill.  So many runners were trying to get out of a narrow start, onto the track and then run about 100 meters before going up a grass embankment and then to a narrow sidewalk.  There were a few times were I came to a complete halt.

The first quarter mile or so was extremely agonizing.  No chip time and I was already jammed.  As I made my way up a hilly street I wondered if I should just dial it back and call it a fun run.

But I continued on. Despite what I figured would be a disappointing first mile, I decided to see what I could do with the race.  The field was completive and most people were dealing with the same issues I had.

I am glad I didn't give up -- the first mile came in at 8:15 -- not too bad considering the early jam ups and up hill mile.  Perhaps with the downhill second I could salvage a decent race.

I was enjoying the course.  I was never alone during the entire race and the race involved a lot of twists and turns.  There really wasn't a dull moment as I flew by campus buildings, meandering students, and fall colors amongst the tall trees.  At times I surged and passed by several people in a burst and I finally felt like I was running well.

Mile 2 -- I smashed in 7;40.  This could wind up being a great race on account that I still felt like I had quite a bit of downhill left to use.

The fun continued into mile 3.  I was really enjoying the race.

Around mile 2.5 is when I started to slow up.  There was a bit of a section with a hill and mentally it was too much for me and I wound up slowing down.  

Fortunately once I crested the hill, I was greeted with a downhill and I could sense where the finish line was ahead.  I looked at my watch and I figured I had less than half a mile to go.  I told myself to push hard.

I cruised down the final hill and hit the grass embankment on the top of the collegiate track.  I made a quick jump down and ran the final 300 meters, which seemed to last for an eternity and into the finish.  


So I managed to salvage the race.  I ran a 24:06 on my watch, 24:20 for my official time due to it being a gun timed race.

So I loved the race course. I actually don't remember very much of it and if you asked me to rerun any part of it, I think I'd get pretty lost pretty quickly.  The course did have marshals and had been marked with race arrows but there were so many twists and turns and I was so focused on racing that I don't remember many of the details.  It just felt like a wild, fast amusement park ride.

I paid $15 for the race so I didn't expect many frills.  I got a cotton t-shirt that actually had a nice design on it.  I feel like I sort of got gipped in my age group: my age group got into the 10 year increment while those younger than me had 5 year.  There were still plenty of 50+ year old runners.  I would've loved to have seen if I would've gotten a top 3 in my age group for the 50 - 54.

Post race refreshments were water and pancakes.  They had chocolate milk as well.  The line was pretty long for pancakes and I suppose I had my chance as soon as I had finished, but I wanted to go back to the car to get my phone for some photos.

I really enjoyed the event and felt like I had performed well.  The course was well marshalled and despite the complexities, I never felt like I was going to get lost -- but then again, I was always running with people.  I did not like the gun time start and the overcrowded start line.  It was great running on the track but there just wasn't enough room for everyone.  I suspect the hold ups set me back 10 - 20 seconds.

I suspect the race was a legit 5K.  There were so many turns and so many ways to probably run a tangent that hadn't been measured correctly.  I wasn't surprised when I came in at 3.05 miles (according to Strava most other people did as well).

For $15 this race was hard to beat for the price.  Despite my complaints, I was happy with my experience and it was great to see so many people I knew there.  It was a welcoming event even if you weren't LDS or an alumni as well.  I'd definitely run this one again if it fit in my calendar.

Upcoming Races

10/22: 2022 Haunted Emigration Canyon 5K - Salt Lake City (Confirmed)
10/29: 2022 Haunted Half Provo 5K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
11/19: 2022 Snow Canyon Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)
11/24: 2022 South Davis Recreation Center Thanksgiving Day 5K - Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
01/14: 2023 St George Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)
02/26: 2023 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)
03/04: 2023 March Madness 10K - West Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
04/22: 2023 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
08/19: 2023 Rock 'N Roll Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)


Saturday, October 1, 2022

2022 Witch Run 5K Race Recap - West Jordan, UT

Official Time: 24:20
Placement: 2nd in the 50 - 54, 10th overall
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 50's, sunny, no wind
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2021] [2020] [2019[2018]

Mile TimeComments
17:59Off to a decent start.  Things are holding up
27:45Feeling confident, feeling good.  Pushing it a bit more
37:51About to give up on myself, but running for a great time
3.100:41A lot of turns in the final stretch, but getting it done!
Total Miles: 3:10 - 24:18


Since its inception, I've done OnHillEvents Witch Run.  It is held at the end of September and it kicks off the Halloween racing month.  In years past, it was a simple 5K race, held at night.  Last year, they introduced more distances and started the race well before sunset (resulting in some warm running).

This year they went to a morning race due to capacity issues and continued on with the 5K / 10K / half marathon options.

The race is held at Gardner Village, a local collection of shops and restaurants that borders on the Jordan River Bike Trail.  It is a really nice location for a race with plenty of parking, bathrooms, and the shops are all decorated with Halloween decorations.

The race's start line is a mere 2 miles away from my house and the course is very familiar to me -- I often run in that area.

I had signed up for the race during a Thanksgiving sale and it winds up being one of my favorite races of the year in terms of the sheer number of runners and the excitement it generates.

The Race

Originally I had signed up for the 10K and I had every intention of running it this morning.  However, when I woke up, my IT-band was inflamed and my hamstrings felt tight.  They had been bothering me since Tuesday's hard workout and despite having taken some ibuprofen and running easy, they hadn't really recovered.  I took an ibuprofen before leaving for the race.

While sitting in my car massaging my hamstring I really questioned whether it was a good idea to run, let alone race a 10K.  I headed over to the race director and got switched to the 5K.  Even if my hamstring blew up, I could get through a 5K.

I did an abbreviated warm-up and deemed myself ready to start running the 5K.

The race was delayed a bit.  There was a long line of people wanting to use the bathroom and the race director gave a grace period of about 15 minutes.  By the time the race started I was kind of itching to use the restroom.

In years past, the course headed straight out of the shopping center and it was pretty easy to navigate to the paved bike trail for the out and back course.  This year we had to make an immediate left after starting and running along a fairly narrow sidewalk until we reached the service drive and managed to get out of the shopping area.

It was slow going for a bit, but fortunately I had lined up at the front and it didn't slow me down too badly.

Within a quarter mile I was running with about 10 - 15 other 5K / 10K runners (the half marathoners had started at 7 AM).

I settled into a nice pace with a few other runners.  My hamstring and IT-band were holding up and I was running comfortably.  Occasionally I glanced down at my Garmin.  I didn't have any specific goals for this race, but I'd like to have hit the first mile in 7:55 or so.

I made some ground against the people I was running with and I felt really good.  I hit the first mile a hair under 8 minutes.  A little slow for the first mile but I was just happy to be running pain free.

Digging deeper, I pushed the pace on mile 2.  Having run a lot of 10K races in the past month, I knew I had the speed endurance to get this one done.  It was such a beautiful morning as I crossed over the bridge and worked my way to the turn around point.

Hitting the 1.55 mile mark, I was greeted by a course marshal who I knew and gave me a big cheer.  It was nice to get that encouragement and to be honest I didn't expect to see them at all at the race.  The course was going to be a legitimate 5K.

I was stunned to see a faster mile 2 (7:51).  I was expecting at least an 8:05 / 8:10.  Could this be an awesome race?  I had my doubts.

This race is a bit of a fun run -- getting a lot of casual runners.  There are only a handful of faster runners that show and I knew one guy was well ahead of me (I had had hopes I would've been able to keep up with him) but as the race progressed I was running solo, with the exception of another female was I worked with for miles 2 to about 2.75.  There was no one behind me, but at this point I was holding a solid pace and I was on target for a great race.  I had had hopes / dreams of going sub 25 minutes but I didn't think it would happen.

The final quarter mile of the race has a lot of turns and I had to navigate my way to the finish line (it was well marked) through the sidewalk / service drive of the shopping area.  It is always the most challenging part of the course but I was running solo.  It was awesome getting some cheers from the course marshals as well.

I made the final turn and sprinted through the finish in a shocking 24:19.  I had totally smashed my expectations on this race.


I am simply over the moon with my success at this race.  The last few 5Ks I had turned in times of just over 25 minutes.  Prior to Covid-19 and my back injury, I was running low 24's.  It was about time that I turned in a great time.

I am not sure what to make of the soreness I was experiencing prior to the race.  Nerves? Did the ibuprofen block the pain and allow me to run?  I definitely know I had been plagued with some soreness and issues prior to the race.

I am happy that I ran the 5K though.  I've been shooting to get back to where I was this spring and this was a sign that I am there.  One of my goals this year is to run consistently under 24 minutes.  I think I would've achieved this goal if I had stayed healthy.   But I still have time.

Signing up for the race late last year, I paid about $35 for the race.  Pricey but still well worth the price of admission.

I didn't really check out too much of the post race refreshments but there was drink, oranges, granola bars and some candy.

The race was well done.  The course was well marked, accurate and had an aid station.  It was also accurate (at least to my watch).  It did start about 15 minutes late, which sort of led me to be cooled off by the time it started.  But that sometimes happens at races that have over 600 runners.

Once again, I am still really excited.  This race may go down as one of my top performances for the year.  I ran consistent splits and from the looks of it, negatively split it by a few seconds.  I am just happy that my training is leading to some positive results.

Upcoming Races

10/15: 2022 BYU Homecoming Run 5k - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
10/22: 2022 Haunted Emigration Canyon 5K - Salt Lake City (Confirmed)
10/29: 2022 Haunted Half Provo 5K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
11/19: 2022 Snow Canyon Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)
11/24: 2022 South Davis Recreation Center Thanksgiving Day 5K - Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
01/14: 2023 St George Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)
02/26: 2023 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)
04/22: 2023 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
08/19: 2023 Rock 'N Roll Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)