Rocky Mountain Half Marathon Race Review

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Running near Rocky Mountain National Park, this race provides spectacular scenery on an undulating course. The half marathon course has a four hour time limit while 5K runners may navigate some ups and downs along their route.

At this year’s Vacation Races national park series race in Zion National Park, runners from 38 states and six countries will come together. Other national park series events include Yellowstone National Park Race and more.

Start & Finish

The Rocky Mountain Half Marathon kicks off at Estes Park Fairgrounds by Lake Estes and follows a paved trail running counter clockwise around it, with uphill sections on Dry Gulch and downhill sections on Devil’s Gulch. It boasts very high elevation, with the lowest point reaching 7,400 feet above sea level while reaching over 8,900 feet at its highest point; though outside Rocky Mountain National Park boundaries, runners will experience challenging yet beautiful mountain town landscape known for its resident elk herd and Stanley Hotel.

The 5k course includes one aid station at its halfway mark; on the Half Marathon route there are around six aid stations with toilets, water, Gnarly Hydrate gels, Honey Stinger gels and basic first aid supplies available at each aid station. Walkers are welcome and encouraged to complete the course within 4 hours – Elk Double participants who complete both events will earn special medals and merchandise; all other runners who finish will also earn medals as they finish either of the events; unfortunately no dogs are permitted on course!


Participating runners of the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon will experience an idyllic race course located just outside Rocky Mountain National Park’s entrance in Estes Park, Colorado. Boasting one long climb and multiple shorter hills as well as numerous sweeping descents, this high-elevation loop course promises to challenge runners of all abilities.

This race starts and finishes at Lake Estes near the fairgrounds in Estes Park, on an undulating paved trail course that loops clockwise around it before turning north uphill on Dry Gulch Road and leaving Devil’s Gulch for several miles of undulating terrain. Once back towards Lake Estes it runs along more level terrain before making its final leg back to Lake Estes parking area to finish at its conclusion.

Apart from its idyllic running trails, the course also includes sections of wide paved roadways that make access for runners with strollers or wheelchairs easier. Furthermore, runners will pass multiple mountain lakes and streams along their journey.

Many Race Options

Not ready for 26.2 miles? Don’t worry. For those not up for that challenge, 10k and half marathon options are also available – as is an Elk Double that rewards finishers with unique finisher medals and goodies!

Both the 5k and Half Marathon races are chip-timed to ensure all participants experience an accurate timing experience. All runners should bring a water bottle or bladder that they can refill from any of the 6 aid stations along the route; these stations will feature water, sports drink and gel supplies every 3.5 miles.

Running races will start from the Copper Mountain Far East Lot, where runners can park and walk 0.3 mile up the recreation path to reach the start line. The course will be clearly marked with pink flagging, pin flags, flour ground markings and directional arrows on longer stretches without intersections.

At its highest point (around mile 8), runners will climb over 8,500 feet of elevation – one of the higher elevations of Vacation Racing series events and making it particularly difficult for runners who come from low-lying regions.

Packet Pickup

The Rocky Mountain Half Marathon offers runners of all skill levels an enjoyable mountainous running event that features some uphill sections, but the stunning mountainous views more than make up for any uphill challenges they might encounter during this race. Also included in this race are 5Ks and an Elk Double (half marathon + 5K).

On Friday and Saturday at Lincoln Center, participants can collect race materials as well as register for the race, provided there is still space available. Note: Please plan ahead as there will be an additional $20 registration fee on race day if registering after this point.

Packet pickup will take place from 6:30-7:30 AM at the race’s start line, so arrive early enough to secure your bib and prepare for race day! There will be a strict cutoff time.

Race Registration

Race registration opens six months prior to race day and features a well-marked course, fully stocked aid stations, professional timing services, post race food/beer (racers 21+) as well as all runners receiving a finisher medal upon completing their race.

Aid stations will be located every two miles and equipped with water and Tailwind Endurance for runners to refresh themselves on. Port-a-potties will also be provided. Runners should call out their bib number at each aid station so volunteers can record it and assist any struggling or injured runners that might need extra medical support; failing to do this could jeopardise receiving necessary assistance at each aid station.

Volunteers will be strategically located along the course to encourage runners and provide support, while spectators are welcome to cheer them on at any point, but must refrain from providing physical aid by hand or foot – crewing or pacing will result in disqualification from participation in this race. Runners needing to drop out must inform an aid station volunteer or course marshal immediately.

Race Day

The 5K and Half Marathon both begin in the parking lot of Estes Park Public Library. Both races follow an out-and-back course on a paved trail that features one long steady climb followed by several gradual descents; runners will finish up their run with breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains surrounding town.

runners will encounter aid stations every two miles that will be fully-stocked with Tailwind Endurance products, while aid station 4 offers ice. Furthermore, there will be a porta-potty near the halfway point to reduce waste and trash production. Finally, this course has no cups; all runners are encouraged to run cupless!

This race takes place in Estes Park, Colorado – situated amidst Rocky Mountain National Park – and marks the highest elevation race of Vacation Races series. It offers runners an unforgettable experience as its course combines paved trail running with road running for half of the race before gradually winding its way back downhill towards Lake Estes, offering plenty of wildlife viewing along its shores and breathtaking mountain vistas.

Top male and female winners in both races will receive cash awards, while age group champions in their age groups will earn medals. Participants who complete both events (fivek run and half marathon) may opt to do the Elk Double which offers unique medals and additional swag.

Registering for this event is easy: simply click on the “Register” button on this page. Enter your personal information, including an active email address. After filling out all necessary fields, you will be taken directly to a page where you can purchase an entry; fees start at $75 for the 5k race and $100 for Half Marathon events until July 31st when registration will increase to $90/$160 depending on when they register – registration closes after this date.

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