The Haunted Half Provo is a spookily themed October marathon, taking a point to point route throughout the Provo Canyon at Orem, Utah. As one of the most popular themed runs in the state, you’re bound to see plenty of people dressed up in their most elaborate (and hopefully most run appropriate) costumes as they take a gorgeous route through red canyon cliffs, rock formations, and some more verdant terrain thrown in there, as well. 2019 will mark the fifth year of the Haunted Half Provo.
Haunted Half is undoubtedly one of the more popular half marathons in the state, seeing over 1700 runners in the 2018 event. Besides the half marathon, there’s also a 5K run and a ½ mile race, each starting slightly later so there are races for runners of all ages and abilities. It’s a downhill run, like many of the half marathons in Utah, starting at a peak elevation of a lofty 5,727, and reaching down as low as 4,726, meaning an overall decline of about a thousand feet. Entering the half marathon costs between $74.95 up to the expo pricing of $89.95.
The route is predominantly a road run, taking a straight shot through the Provo Canyon. The party starts at the University Place Mall, after which all runners will board the shuttle that takes them up to the starting point in the canyon. Between miles 3 and 4, the run takes a left turn at Vivian Park, continuing to decline straight on the way down to the finish line, back at University Place Mall in Orem. After Mile 8, you’re out of the canyon and will start to hit a bit of an incline after the 10-mark mile (of roughly fifty feet), before the finish. Temperature tends to be mild enough thorough the run, with average highs near the 60-degree Fahrenheit mark, and average lows sticking consistently around 40. A little nippy in that cool canyon breeze, but nothing too taxing.
Naturally, costumes are not only allowed for the race, they’re actively encouraged. Fun is the name of the game with the Haunted Half race. Provo offers the easiest of the three runs, so expect to see entrants of all skill levels and ages taking part, getting involved in the fun, and getting ready for the festivities that await them at the end.
The expo takes place the day before at the Utah Valley Convention Center. It’s open from 11am to 7pm. Here, runners pick up their bibs, chips (for timing), and hang out with the other runners. At the staging area right before the start of the race, the party’s kicked off with music, water, Powerade and porta potties are provided here as well as at aid stations dotted throughout. Hit the end to see where you placed, enjoy the Fear Factory finish, collect awards, take part in costume contests, and enjoy the Halloween festivities. The race isn’t the only thing going on, there’s pizza, candy, doughnut eating contests and face painting, with entrants from all the runs, including the kids’ ½ mile run, getting involved in the fun.
As the second in the series of three Haunted Half marathons (the others taking place in Austin, Texas, and Salt Lake City, Utah), this Provo Canyon run has quickly risen to become one of the most popular themed runs, as well as one of the most beloved Halloween events in Orem, Utah. It’s another downhill run, which are far from uncommon in mountainous Utah, however it is more a gentle incline, so it’s as challenging as some of the others. It can still be tough, but there are certainly steeper runs in the Utah Valley.
The event is going to be the biggest draw for many of the runners. Seeing the creativity of the runners on full display, all the wacky costumes that will be right there alongside you, and the festivity of the finish makes joining this half marathon worth it, alone. It’s more than a run, it’s a fantastic family day out and you’ll arrive back in town to join a whole haunted host of people from the local community getting involved with face painting, costume contests, and generous servings of pizza and sweet treats.
Although some experienced runners might not find it as challenging as others in the Utah Valley, there’s certainly a lot of praise to be directed towards the production of the event. The free parking at the staging area of University Place Mall, transportation to the mall, and shuttle up to the actual starting line of the match leave nothing to be desired. Staging areas are well set up along the route and there are plenty of volunteers there to lend their support and make sure you’re safe and comfortable on your way through the gorgeous Provo Valley.
You can’t talk about the half marathon without talking about how picturesque the route is, either. The road route is comfortable and well maintained, had the route takes you through the scenic byway, just off the Alpine Loop (though past races have incorporated the loop as well, so it could appear again). As such, you could spot such sights as the Bridal Veil Falls, Squaw Peak, and will spend some time running alongside the Provo River. Though, the route has changed over the past five years, so there’s nothing to say that it might update to provide the optimal half marathon again in future.
Overall, it’s not going to be the most difficult run for experienced runners, especially those who are expecting a steep incline. However, the beauty of the scenery, the decent Halloween themed swag and the excellent production values that go into the staging, celebration, and organization of the event make it one worth visiting every year if you’re in the Provo Canyon area.