Review of the Provo City Half Marathon

Race Overview

The Provo City Half Marathon is a fast-paced, scenic point-to-point half marathon that is held annually taking runners from South Fork Park in Provo Canyon to University Avenue and Center Street in Downtown Provo. Taking place in May each year, it’s a race that shows off some of the best of the gorgeous Provo Canyon and finishes up with an excellent finish line party. This USATF certified run also offers a 5K run and a kid’s run on the same day, so everyone can get involved in the action, not to mention the celebrations

Marathon, street runners in spring day

The route starts off in the canyons and offers a lot of natural scenery to runners. However, it’s a road race from beginning to end and, as the runners start to descend, they will soon find themselves surrounded by more urban sights, as the latter portion of the run takes them down into the city where the ground gets a lot more even and the supporting crowds become a much more common sight.

As with many of the runs in the Utah Valley, the Provo City Half Marathon has some elevation to consider. The race starts off at a high point of around 5500 ft and there’s a net elevation drop of around 900 feet. Runners can expect some steep hills and gradual inclines along the way, it’s mostly a straight shot out of the canyons, directly down into the city.

One of the fastest growing runs in Utah, the Provo City Half Marathon has a pre-race packet pickup that starts the day before the race. From the Provo Recreation Center on 320 West 500 North Provo, runners can pick up their packet from 3:30-7:30pm. Since any delays on the morning of the race can result on runners missing the bus that shuttles them to the starting point, it’s always recommended that participants do what they can to make the pre-race packet pickup. That said, there are race morning packet pickups for the half marathon at the Utah County Courthouse from 4:30am-5:30am, an hour and a half before the race.

All runners have to purchase their place in the half-marathon before the pre-race packet pickup. When you arrive, you have to have your ID with you, and you can find your own packet number by looking in the list. You should be able to spot your own name and the corresponding number. Then, with this number, you can line up to pick up your race bib, chip, race bag, and race shirt. Participants can also pick up the packets for other runners if they have a note from them as well as a copy of their ID.

As mentioned, the Provo City Hall Half Marathon is one of the fastest growing runs in the state, with over 1700 participants in the opening year’s half marathon alone, not counting the 5K or kid’s marathon. The race has been going on since 2015, so the upcoming 2020 race will be their 6th race since the beginning.

There are 6 aid stations along the course, dotted at mile 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 11.5, each of them offering water, Powerade, porta potties, first aid and so on. There will also be energy gels available at mile 6. Then, at the end, there’s going to be food and drinks for all runners at the Finish Line celebrations, including a Magleby’s Fresh breakfast. Not to mention bounce houses and face painting for the kids. All three races end up at the same point and roughly around the same time, most years, so it’s a celebration that everyone can get involved in, before the awards ceremony offers medals to the winners of all races, including men’s, women’s, and overall winners of the half-marathon.

Race Review

The gorgeous mountain peaks overlooking the crystalline waters of Provo Bay make for an excellent view. On this downhill race starting up in the canyon, you’re sure to get your fill of both. The Provo City Half Marathon is a race that offers both the natural and the urban, starting with the sights of the canyon above and ending in style with a fun, energetic celebration at the very end.

If you’re familiar with the Provo River Trail Half Marathon, then you will likely have seen a lot of the course before and know the challenges it can offer. A downhill run, like many in the Utah Valley, this is a somewhat more demanding one than most, switching up things with gradual inclines the occasional steep hill.

That said, it’s not the most grueling race around. The Provo City Half has been treated as a family-event since its inception, and the calm weather in May, starting cool and tending to heat up a little as the day goes on, keeps things nice and settled, too.

Runners will start up in the mountains, at the South Park Road and will head west and south. The Provo River Parkway lays the way ahead for most of the first half of the race, dropping around 900 feet of elevation in total. At the halfway point, runners turn off to University Avenue, taking them towards the finish line in more relaxed fashion until they reach the Center Street intersection, where the finish line, party, food, and plenty of hydration await.

As one of the earliest races in the area, the Provo City Half Marathon can make for a great early-season starter to the calendar of runs in the Utah Mountains. It’s challenging and fast, and easy going, offering some fantastic views on the way down. There is plenty of opportunity to catch the sights of surrounding snowcapped mountain ranges, including Cascade Mountain, Freedom Peaks, and Mount Timpanagos, each of which is famous in the area amongst hikers, campers, and runners alike.

With great organization, including pre-packet pickup, bus to the starting line, aid stations, and a celebration at the end, this could be the perfect half-marathon to kick off your year and get you prepared for what the Utah Valley has to offer.