The Timpanogos half marathon takes place in American Fork, UT, starting from the Tibble Fork Reservoir and finishing at the American Fork High School. Usually taking place on late July or the beginning of August, it attracts up to 2000 runners a year. The course is also home to the Timpanogos marathon and 5K, as well as a Kid’s Run starting from American Fork High School Loop.
The run starts at an elevation of 6,721 ft., dropping down to 4,649 ft. throughout, making for a huge net downhill drop of about 2,072 ft. The steep downhill drop takes you down the slopes of the American Fork Canyon, exposing you to some gorgeous elevated views along the way. Paved trails offer a pleasant run, with the relatively isolated environment ensuring that no traffic can get in the way of the majority of the run.
From Tibble Fork Reservoir, a gravel road takes runners 2.5 miles down the road, before a right-hand turn takes them into the canyon on R192. 5 miles are spent through the canyon, before turning left into a golf course trail and, through that, onto N. Cottonwood Drive. The runners progress through the Cedar Hills paved trailer system, across Harvey Boulevard, and head onto Caveman Boulevard for the final stretch through the American Fork High School Loop.
This half-marathon, taking runners through plenty of gorgeous mountain trails, wooded parks, and residential streets, has been going since 2011, making the next run in 2020 its 9th annual event. The average low temperature on the day of the race tends to be around 61 degrees F, and the average high is closer to 91 degrees. The half marathon starts at 6am, with a fee of $60 – $95. Before the race, there’s an early morning yoga session at the Tibble Fork parking lot from 4:30am to 5:30am, followed by an electric guitar rendition of the Nation Anthem at 5:50am, right before the start of the race.
The Timpanogos half marathon is professionally timed using chips attached to the back of the bib given out before the race. Each runner’s results will be based on gun time, from when the sound of the gun starts the race until the end, as well as chip time, which the real time ran by the runner, based on the chip’s data. There are six fuel stations along the way, providing water, Powerade, access to porta potties and first aid.
With the finish of the race taking place at American Fork High School Track Stadium, runners will be greeted by food, plenty to drink, music, some sponsor swag, finisher medals, and an awards ceremony that starts at 8am. Awards are given for overall winners, as well as for those within the 13 different age divisions in the race. Awards are also separated by gender. The half marathon takes place under the USA Track & Field rules and regulations with non-registered runners liable to be pulled from the course. Baby strollers, pets, rollerblades, vehicles (including rollerblades and skateboards) and personal support vehicles are not permitted in the race.
The seven miles of running featured in the Timpanogos half marathon throughout American Fork offer some of the most diverse and gorgeous running ground you can hope for. Mountain slopes, residential streets, and wooded parks with well-kept biking and jogging paths make up the entirety of the journey, with plenty of great vantage points to enjoy far-reaching views of the canyon and that cool mountain air ever present.
Starting at a very high altitude for a lot of races, you start from over 6,400 feet above sea level, making a gradual descent that reaches over 2,000 ft. down along the way. North Utah’s gorgeous Wasatch Mountain range accompanies runners along the way down, showing off the American Fork Canyon as well as the Alpine Scenic Highway, all of it closed from traffic for the race. Of course, as the name suggests, the peaks of Mount Timpanogos feature in the background throughout.
With an early start at such an elevated space, the race starts off cool, but as the sun rises and the descent keeps going, things start to heat up. Keep your head up around 6:20AM, too, as that’s when you might be able to glimpse to gorgeous sunrise peeking into the canyon, adding a beautiful glow to the scenery with the right weather overhead. The race starts in the crisp cool air, which remains nice and refreshing throughout, but it does start to get a little warmer as you head down further into the canyon, but never uncomfortably warm.
The run isn’t just a beautiful one, it’s also handled beautifully, with volunteers setting up well-positioned aid stations throughout. All manner of help is provided incredibly efficiently. The half marathon sees a lot of support from the locals as well. The run through the American Fork Canyon might be quiet, green, and gorgeous, but when you exit from the canyon and head out through the gold course, you’ll find yourself encounter a lot of cheering fans.
Overall, the scenery alone can be worth making this half marathon for. The American Fork Canyon is well known for some of the best sport rock climbing in the world, with gorgeous limestone walls stretching overhead as you progress further down. It may not be the most difficult of faces, but don’t underestimate how downhill it can get at points. Furthermore, with high production values and effective organization, and some great swag to go with the extensive celebrations at the end, it does feel like an event worth truly getting invested in.