Home to rich USA history and many a strange phenomenon, the Wyoming cowboy town of Jackson exudes a witty western feel and has rightly become a beloved tourist trap for folks in search of old-world American charm. With its perfect location by the tantalizing Teton Mountain range, the region has become a mecca for mountaineering enthusiasts, climbers, skiers, and lovers of the mighty outdoors - and the Grand Teton National Park in which these legendary peaks lie promises endless opportunities for those to indulge in their wildest wilderness fantasies.
Buzzing with stunning trails and outdoor opportunities, the region is overwhelmingly attractive to the fit and active. And what many don't actually know is that Jackson itself is incredibly cultural with quintessential American sights and a delightful array of fresh cuisines for which many pay a pretty penny. But there's something else stirring in this wintertime skiing hub - something sensational and rewarding that many descend for come summer.
Skip the skiing and snowboarding, for Jackson presents visitors the Grand Teton Half Marathon & 5K each and every year - a vigorous event showcasing the town's gravitational backyard: Grand Teton National Park, to where everyone big or small, abled or disabled, and hardcore or leisurely are invited to join in.
Grand Teton Half Marathon & 5K
Running in the shadow of the mighty mountains of the Grand Teton National Park may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many, but for the people and visitors of Jackson, it's a yearly occurrence in which two distinct challenges take place; the half marathon and the 5k, both which launch from the town. Whether one comes for the stunning scenery, the thrill of the race, the friendly and sociable atmosphere amongst the crowds, or simply the cool swag, there's something for everyone throughout the event's days.
Setting off just outside the entrance to Grand Teton National Park, both the Half Marathon and the 5K take runners on a high-elevation route through Wyoming’s Jackson Hole and a significant portion of the surrounding park, allowing ample chance to sample those glorious mountain vistas. The more taxing of the two, the half marathon 13.2-mile race starts at 6:30 am with groups being sent off in waves according to their racer bibs. All participants have four full hours until 10:30 am to soak up the scenery and make their way to the finish line, permitting a brisk 18 minutes per mile to complete the track in time - a fairly doable feat even for walkers and people with less-abled bodies.
The race begins from the organizers' expo location in Wilson and is followed by a run along Beckley Park Way before moving onto Teton Pass Highway 22. Participants then venture onto a jogging trail and loop around the pasture before returning to the finish line. Conveniently, most of the course is flat and provides paved roads, which makes for ideal access even for those with strollers and wheelchairs. The description of the race may sound quick and somewhat lackluster, but the show-stopping scenes of the dramatic landscapes combined with the magnificent Teton mountain range are sure to slow racers down in their tracks.
There will also be around six aid stations on the Half Marathon course in addition to a medic station near the halfway mark. Aid stations are there to offer refreshments and facilities in between running and walking breaks and include toilets, water, honey stinger gels, gnarly hydrate, first aid supplies, and many more bits and bobs people may need throughout the race.
It's also important to note that this is a beautiful course set in the midst of the Teton's spectacular natural environment, and events organizers wish to keep it that way. This is why it's a cup-less event in order to minimize trash. There'll be no cups or drinks holders provided at the start and finish line nor at any of the aid stations - instead, participants and spectators are kindly asked to bring their own reusable water bottles, cups, and drinks containers to use throughout the day.
Overall, the course is extraordinarily breathtaking, with paralyzing scenes of snowy capped mountain peaks, breaths of the freshest crisp air, and maybe even encounters with the local wildlife - all making participation worthy of one's time and effort. Be it running, jogging, walking, or strolling along in a wheelchair, everyone is invited to come and enjoy the event.
What's The Purpose?
It's not just stupefying panoramas, the thrill of the race, and a decent day's exercise attracting visitors to the Grant Teton Half Marathon & 5K; it's also good causes. Vacation Races - the hosts of the running event - has led the race for several years, providing runners, joggers, hikers, and leisurely saunterers with an amazing chance to experience the Tetons in a unique and competitive way; by giving back to the local community. Through Vacation Races’ non-profit sector - the Wander Project - the funds raised through participant ticket sales, runners' raised money, and sponsorship all go towards charitable work.
In fact, one of the benefactors of the Vacation Races and their marathon events is the Grand Teton National Park Foundation, which has been awarded grants and funding from the Wander Project. As a result, this has had a tremendous knock-on effect, allowing the foundation's teams to further their efforts in the conservation of Grand Teton National Park, undertake wildlife and natural resource conservation, launch and maintain trail projects, and even offer education.
Summary of Races
Confusingly, there are a few different ticket styles along with several race options taking place over a couple of days and some a week or so later. However, to help, here's a brief summary of each one to give some clarity on what every challenge entails:
- Moose Double: The Moose Double Challenge incorporates both the Friday evening 5k and the Saturday morning Half Marathon. Participants receive a medal for both the 5k and Half Marathon, along with a third medal for completion of the Moose Double Challenge.
- Grizzly Double: The Grizzle Double Challenge involves running the Grand Teton Half Marathon as well as the Yellowstone Half Marathon the following weekend. Runners in this event receive a medal for the Grand Teton Half Marathon and one for the Yellowstone Half Marathon, as well as a third for fulfilling the Grizzly Double Challenge.
- Grand Quad: The ultimate Grand Quad challenge sees participants compete in and complete all four of the Vacation Races routes across two weekends. These are Grand Teton 5k, Grand Teton Half Marathon, Yellowstone 5k, and Yellowstone Half Marathon.
How To Get To The Grand Teton Half Marathon & 5K
- Start Point: 1455 Beckley Park Way, Wilson, WY 83014, USA
- Parking Available at Three Sites: Stilson Lot on 1455 Beckley Park Way (the start line), Ranch Lot at Teton Village on Après Vous Road, and 250 N Cache St Parking Lot on the corner of Cache St and E Gill Ave. Note that no parking is allowed at the finish line.
- Shuttle Service: Participants can use a convenient shuttle service that runs from the finish line to the three parking lots after the race.