If there’s one thing that runners of all experience and ability levels love, it’s a new challenge. A change to pit their skills against new courses, and to test themselves in a new and unfamiliar environment. Fortunately, there are numerous fantastic races throughout the year in the state of Utah which capitalize on the area’s stunning scenery and the friendly, welcoming nature of the people who make our state so great! Each one offers something unique. Each one has a subtly different combination of challenge and gratification to allow runners to test their mettle while also experiencing some of the beauty and grandeur that Utah has to offer.
Here we’ll take a close look at the Bear Lake Marathon & Half Marathon that took place earlier this year. We’ll dive deep into the fundamentals that make the race unique before going into some more detail on this year’s race and some of the wonderful insights and experiences shared by runners…
The Bear Lake Marathon & Half Marathon: Race Overview
The Utah leg of Bear Lake Marathon & Half Marathon is one part of a trifecta of races shared with Wyoming and Idaho. This makes the Bear Lake Trifecta the perfect weekend for those who want to be able to complete a marathon (or half marathon) in all fifty states with very little travel involved between races.
While many events get lost in the trappings of the event like live bands, elaborate staging and self-aggrandizing expos, the Bear Lake Trifecta has always been about keeping it simple and putting the race and the course at the heart of the event.
But that doesn’t mean that participants take only memories home with them. Each Trifecta participant receives souvenir gifts for their accomplishments,as well as the coveted Run Bear Lake Finsher medals for each race in which they participate.
The Bear Lake Marathon & Half Marathon takes place in early June and this year took place over the weekend of June 6th- 8th. The dates for next year’s event were announced recently with pre-race beginning on June 10th with the Idaho leg on June 11th, Wyoming on June 12th and Idaho on June 13th.
Each leg of the race officially starts at 6am although runners are free to start earlier if they wish. Again, this race is less about the pomp and ceremony and more about the running. And because there are no time limits, runners are free to explore the stunning scenery of Bear Lake at their leisure.
For the 2019 race, however, due to health and safety concerns, time limits were imposed and early starts were not allowed. Time limits imposed were 5 hours for the half marathon and 8 hours for the full which seemed ample for participants.
Although it spans three states, all start and finish lines are very close together. In fact, all start and finish lines are within 45 mins’ drive of one another. What’s more, the gorgeous scenic route offers a gentle rolling course that should be welcoming for those running their first marathon while still providing enough challenge for seasoned runners, with a maximum elevation of around 6,000 feet.
Both the marathon & half marathon courses are predominantly flat with a few rollers. Runners are advised that while they’ll face few uphill challenges, the elevation and heat can be potential obstacles. The course is primarily asphalt with a few trails here and there.
The Bear Lake Trifecta typically sees several hundred runners of all types, experience and skill levels every year. This year, the full marathon had a total of 62 finishers while the half marathon had a total of 174 finishers.
Aside from the marathon and half marathons, runners can also participate in 10k and 5k runs around stunning Bear Lake. Each leg of the trifecta can be run on its own or runners can compete in all 3 across the weekend due to their geographical proximity.
The Ogden Marathon 2019 Race Review
The Bear Lake Trifacta is a real endurance test and attracts many serious runners, although there are also many who elect just to run one leg or a half a leg of the race in their home state. Whether they were just in it for one leg or going the whole hog, runners had a great many positive things to say about the 2019 Bear Lake Marathon & Half Marathon.
The best of Bear Lake
Many reviewers, year in and year out have commented on their awe at the way in which the trifecta showcases the local landscapes, guiding them through some of the most stunning panoramas across all three states. One reviewer on MarathonGuide.com remarked;
“The course is asphalt, through beautiful farm country, with newly green fields, and full of fat cattle, horses, and sheep. Also many new wild flowers and bird songs…The course was well marked and aid stations were frequent and well stocked”.
Likewise, a runner on RaceRaves.com remarked that “the scenery was amazing and couldn’t have been prettier”.
Many runners also commented positively on the low-key organisational style of the races and the fact that the emphasis was more on the running than on ceremony, although runners still felt rewarded for their hard work and endeavor.
Even when running a low-key race like the Bear Lake Marathon & half Marathon it’s still important to get help and support when you need it and many of this year’s runners were quick to praise the thoughtful and comprehensive support made available to them and the friendly, enthusiastic demeanor of the volunteers.
One reviewer on RaceRaves mentioned that the trifecta was perfect for “50 staters and marathon maniacs”, while also stating that the “Race director works hard to support everyone’s needs.”
Others praised the fact that they consistently found at two mile intervals to render support and refreshment to tired runners.
Overall, the Bear Lake Trifecta continues to draw runners of all kinds from all 50 states and beyond. With the opportunity to see three states in one great race, it’s likely to continue to be popular among those looking for a new challenge for years to come.
We hope to see you there next year!