The last in a series of three spooky Halloween runs, The Haunted Half is a half marathon taking place in Salt Lake City, Utah, the other two Haunted Half runs taking place in Provo Canyon and Austin, Texas, in mid-October. A widely beloved themed run, it sees well over a thousand costumed competitors and fun runners taking a gorgeous downhill route from Emigration Canyon and into the city. This latest run in the Haunted Half series has been going since 2013, making the upcoming 2019 event its sixth year.
The Haunted Half originally began with the Austin, Texas run but has since expanded to Salt Lake City and, despite its relatively new status, it still managed over a thousand runners in its second year. It’s not just a half marathon, either, the event also covers a 5K run and a ½ mile race, making it a great day out for those of all abilities and ages. The Salt Lake City route starts up in Emigration Canyon, at an elevation of over 6200 feet and dropping down to 4400, making a 1800 foot overall drop. It costs $60 and up to get involved in the half marathon.
A road course that is almost entirely a straight downhill shot, with some hills along the way, it starts with a shuttle taking the runners out to Emigration Canyon. The main Emigration Canyon Road serves as the route for nearly half of the entire race and runners will definitely find themselves running down that hill at some speed.
Later in the race, the incline evens out, with a few more hills along the way as runners head into Salt Lake City, on the way to Sugar House Park. The urban setting makes a nice change to the natural scenery, stunning as it is, and as the run starts to slow a little. The weather on race day tends to stick to average lows around 40 degrees F and highs in the mid-60s, staying mostly cool and dry, but not too chilly.
The expo takes place at Highland High School in the city, the day before the race. It’s open from 11am to 7pm. This is where runners pick up their packet, bib number, shirt and race swag, providing they can show their ID. These packets aren’t available at the morning of the race, so ensuring that you pick up your is essential. The bus picks up all the runners on the morning of the race, with loading starting a 6am, and all runners must be there by 6:45am to ensure transportation to the starting point. There’s free parking available both at the pickup point at Highland High School, as well as the finish point at Sugar House Park, both of which are a five minute drive apart.
There’s water, Powerade and porta potties available at the staging area of the race as well as the aid stations along the route, which also provide first aid. At the end, the race finishes with a party, ending in an exciting Fear Factory finish. After that, there’s the award ceremony, costume contests, face painting, doughnuts on sticks, and all kinds of tasty treats to indulge in. Entrants from all three races end up in the same place, making a great family event with the surrounding community.
Fun is the name of the game when it comes to the three Haunted Half Marathons, and while it doesn’t see quite as many entrants as the Provo Canyon or Austin run, the Salt Lake City run still makes for a wildly popular event and one of the most loved themed runs in the area. Like many runs in the heights of the Utah Valley, this is a downhill run, and it’s quite a fast one, too. So fast that you might not quite have time to enjoy the varied beauty of Emigation Canyon.
Those familiar with the Provo Canyon run might expect something just as easy going with as relaxed a downhill route, but that’s not really the case here. The path down Emigration Canyon has a challenging decline, so runners have to be careful not to hurt themselves. It evens out making the final stretch a little easier, but there are still some hills to add a little challenge.
However, the struggle is all worth it for the sheer spectacle of the event, not to mention the party that you get to join in when you get back to the town. The face painting, costume contests, and generous servings of themed foods make for an excellent party. This serves to show, primarily, the love and care put into organizing the event. With a great expo, free parking, all kinds of entertainment set up, transportation, and provided swag, it’s amongst one of the best organized runs you will find in the Utah Valley. Add to that the friendly, enthusiastic volunteers helping at every rest station and there are positive vibes throughout.
Even though you might be rocketing past most of it without getting to see as much as you might like, the route down from Emigration Canyon is still gorgeous. It presents some pretty dazzling views of Salt Lake City on the way down, as well, so those who enjoy a run with some good eye candy are going to be undoubtedly pleased with this one.
It’s hard not to recommend the Salt Lake City Haunted Half, in the end. If you find the Provo Canyon sister-race a little too unstimulating, then rocketing down Emigration Valley is sure to add some of the excitement that you’re after. Add to that the gorgeous scenery, the funky swag that certainly stands apart from other half marathons in the area and the fantastic organization, staging, logistics and celebration, and you have yourself a top-notch run, a must-do for anyone in SLC.