Quick Race Info

Note: We are excited to announce our new marathon course, which we plan on keeping for years to come. In an effort to plan for long-term growth, we have instituted the changes described below to provide the best possible course for the marathon.

This course provides a fantastic staging area at Brighton Ski Resort. It maintains the canyon feel of the race by following the base of the mountain and offering great views of the Salt Lake Valley on Wasatch Boulevard, which will be closed to all traffic and reserved completely for our runners. The course also ends with a significant downhill finish from the mouth of the canyon to downtown Cottonwood Heights. Check out more details below.

The Big Cottonwood Marathon may be the fastest and most beautiful marathon course you will ever run. Experience the amazing views in the canyon with the sun coming up and the fall leaves glowing brightly.

The marathon begins at Brighton Ski Resort at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon and runs straight downhill among the canyon cliffs and alongside Big Cottonwood Creek for nearly 15 miles to the mouth of the canyon. Runners enjoy an average 5% grade during this stretch. Make sure you train appropriately for this downhill section as downhill running works your muscles differently than flat or uphill.

After exiting the canyon the marathon course heads north for an out-and-back on Wasatch Boulevard. With the road completely closed to all traffic and reserved solely for the marathon, runners will be able to witness incredible views of the Salt Lake Valley and cheer on their fellow runners as they pass going the opposite way. This 7 mile stretch of the marathon is relatively flat with slight rolling hills.

After the out-and-back the marathon course returns to the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon and enters the city of Cottonwood Heights, following the same downhill course as the half marathon to finish in front of the Cottonwood Heights city offices.

The marathon course is USATF certified with number UT12015GAN, and is one of the fastest Boston Marathon qualifying races in the country.

The following interactive map shows the course. Feel free to zoom in and pan around to see all the details of the course.

The elevation plot for the Big Cottonwood Marathon is shown below. The full marathon has a net downhill of 4300 feet, with minimal uphill and a 500-foot drop from the mouth of the canyon to the finish line. The average grade in the canyon is 5%. This course is fast!

According to a study highlighted in a recent Runner's World article, the grade in Big Cottonwood Canyon is near optimal for running efficiency. We are confident that you can set a personal record (PR) on this course regardless of where you are coming from, where you have raced before, or how many races you have run.

Based on the experiences of runners coming from lower elevation in previous years, altitude has not been a factor and many have been able to achieve personal records by significant amounts. Because the race is significantly downhill, the cardiovascular requirements are largely minimized. Additionally, because atmospheric oxygen levels increase as the course descends, runners benefit from increased oxygen intake as they progress in the race.

The elevation plot below is interactive. Feel free to zoom in and check out every detail of the elevation profile.

This may be the fastest marathon course you will ever run. It is not uncommon for our runners to achieve significant PR's in the half marathon on our course, with many of them accomplishing double-digit PR's. Check out the "PR testimonials" from our runners on the left side of our home page to get a feel for how fast the course is.

The following chart compares average half marathon times for the Big Cottonwood Marathon and other marathons in the state of Utah and across the USA. If you want a PR, this is your course!

Race Expo

Information regarding the Big Cottonwood Marathon & Half race expo is forthcoming.

Race-Day Parking & Busing

Maps and additional information regarding race-day parking & busing is forthcoming.

Race Bags & Personal Belongings

You may take your race bag and any personal belongings with you to the starting areas. A number that matches your race bib will be affixed to the outside of your race bag. This is to identify your bag at the finish area after the race, and you will need your bib to prove ownership of your bag when you pick it up. Please carry any belongings to the starting area in this bag, as opposed to any other personal bags, which cannot be identified by your race number. Bags must be placed in the transport vehicles at the starting areas no later than 6:45 AM.

Starting Areas

The half marathon will begin approximately 10 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon at Spruces Campground, and the full marathon will begin approximately 15 miles up the canyon at Brighton Ski Resort. Porta-potties, water, hot chocolate, coffee, basic first aid items, and last-minute instructions will be provided at the starting areas. While we will provide gloves and mylar blankets, we highly recommend that you come prepared for cold temperatures at the start line by layering and then shedding your layers to put in your drop bag just before the race begins.


The races will be chip-timed. Your time will begin when you cross the starting line, not at the start gun, and will stop when you cross the finish line. However, overall race winners will be determined by gun time, not chip time.

Please do not tamper with the timing chips, as they cannot be replaced once linked to your bib number.

Race Bibs

Your timing tag will be affixed to your race bib. It is important that you do not cover your bib with clothing or other objects that may interfere with the bib tag reader when you are crossing the start and finish lines. Furthermore, in order to ensure that race volunteers, officials, and photographers can properly identify you, you must wear your bib on the front of your person in an unobstructed position.

Course Description

Both races descend Big Cottonwood Canyon for a majority of the race distance.

After exiting the canyon the half marathon course continue straight onto Fort Union Boulevard and head due west to the finish line in front of the Cottonwood Heights city offices.

The full marathon course exits the canyon and heads north for an out-and-back on Wasatch Boulevard. After returning to the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon the marathon course will enter Cottonwood Heigths and follow the same course as the half marathon to finish in front of the Cottonwood Heights city offices.

Aid Stations & Nutrition

Aid stations will be located every two miles along the courses. All of our aid stations will be supplied with electrolyte drinks, water, and basic first aid supplies. Additionally, various aid stations will be supplied with energy gels, fruit, and other nutritional items as well as medical personnel.

Details regarding nutrition along the course (brands, flavors, locations) will be provided soon on the website and will also be given in the race program.

Road Safety

The canyon will be partially closed to traffic from 6:45 AM until 10:30 AM on race day. During this time, the westbound lane will be reserved for our runners. Traffic in the eastbound lane will be limited to one direction, which will be coordinated by our pilot cars. Candlestick barricades will be placed every 80 feet along the center of the road, and for your safety you must stay to the right of these barricades at all times while in the canyon.

Once runners leave the canyon, the course will continue to be marked by candlestick barricades and road signs. Please stay within the barricades at all times and be aware of any road traffic around you.

Race volunteers and police officers will be present at all major intersections and turns on the courses to guide runners and stop traffic when necessary. Please follow their directions at all times in order to ensure your safety.

Course Time Limits

Because road closures for the race must be re-opened for normal traffic, we are required to set course time limits. Road closures will be lifted based on a 6:00:00 marathon time. Any runners still on the course after the rolling cut-off times may continue to proceed along the course route to the finish area, but aid station and traffic control support will not be available.

For the full marathon, the cut-off time is equivalent to a 13:45/mile pace for the marathon. This is equivalent to a very light jog or brisk power walk.

Because the half marathon begins further down the canyon and heads straight to the finish line after exiting the canyon, the cut-off pace for the half marathon is slower than it is or the full marathon, at roughly 22:00/mile.

The expectation is that only a few runners, if any, will be affected by the course time limits.

Race Pacing

Pacers will be at the both the full and half marathon to lead everyone to a fast time.

The full marathon will include pacers in 10-minute increments at the following paces: 3:05, 3:15, 3:25, 3:35, 3:45, 3:55, 4:05, and 4:15. Whatever level you're at, you'll be in good company running for that Boston mark!

The half marathon will include pacers in 15-minute increments at the following paces: 1:30, 1:45, 2:00, 2:15, 2:30, 2:45, and 3:00.


There will be photographers at multiple locations along the course to take pictures of your race experience. Be sure to smile big, make a tough face, or strike a pose for the cameras as you go by. Please make sure your bib is visible as well. Photographers will also be at the finish to capture your sprint across the line and take your photos in front of our backdrops.

All race photos will be provided for free via Facebook after the race.


While we can't predict the weather, we can provide some historical data for you. Please remember that these are average temperatures for the Salt Lake Valley, and that temperatures in the canyon will be considerably cooler in the morning. While we will provide gloves and mylar blankets, we highly recommend that you come prepared for cold temperatures at the start line by layering and then shedding your layers to put in your drop bag just before the race begins.

Average Low:55 F
Average High:77 F
Average:66 F

Medical Assistance

Each of the aid stations will be supplied with a first-aid kit that will include items such as bandages, moleskin, vaseline, anti-inflammatories, etc. If you are in need of any of these items, simply stop and ask the volunteers at the aid station and they will be able to help you.

In addition to the first-aid kits, various aid stations will be staffed by medical volunteers and equipped with a medical tent and cot.

Spectator Locations

Because the canyon will be closed to spectators, we recommend that your family and friends find other good spots along the course to cheer you on. There are countless places they can stake out with multiple opportunities to see you pass by if they plan it right. Refer your fan club to the course maps under the marathon and half marathon tabs to plot out their desired locations. Spectators will also be allowed to park at the finish line to cheer you in and celebrate with you after you cross the line.

Finish Area

Maps and additional information regarding the finish area is forthcoming.

Age Divisions

Age divisions follow the standard USATF guidelines and include the following:

  • 18 & under
  • 19-24
  • 25-29
  • 30-34
  • 35-39
  • 40-44
  • 45-49
  • 50-54
  • 55-59
  • 60-64
  • 65-69
  • 70 & over


Race times will be available shortly after you cross the line at the race, and will also be posted online as soon as possible after the race.

Awards & Ceremonies

All runners completing the race will receive one of our famous finisher's medals as they cross the finish line. Age division and overall awards will be given as well. Additional details regarding these awards and timing for the awards ceremonies are forthcoming.


If you are traveling to the Big Cottonwood Marathon & Half, the closest airport is the Salt Lake International Airport. It is only fifteen miles from the finish line in Cottonwood Heights, and even closer to downtown Salt Lake City.

Partnering Hotels

We are happy to partner with a number of hotels this year to provide special rates and amenities for our runners.

In addition to the discounted rates, a number of hotels are partnering with us to offer busing to the start lines from the hotel and shuttles back to the hotel from the finish line after the race.

We also want to thank those hotels that will be staffing aid stations along the course, and invite you to look for them during the race and express your appreciation for their support.

Please consult the table below for information regarding special pricing, amenities, reservation details, and hotel locations.

Hotel Rate Miles From Finish For Our Runners Reserve Room
Crystal Inn
818 E Winchester St
Murray, UT 84107
$86 1
  • Special Rate
  • Race busing & shuttling
  • Free pre-race dinner
  • Race-day bag breakfast
  • Additional Amenities
Doubletree Suites Hilton
110 W 600 S
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
$99 12
  • Special rate
  • Race busing & shuttling
  • Massage therapy
  • Aid station support
  • Additional Amenities
Make Reservation
Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham
6990 S 1435 E
Salt Lake City, UT 84121
$74 - $94 0
  • Special rate
  • Race-day bag breakfast
  • Aid station support
  • Additional Amenities
Make Reservation
Hilton Garden Inn
250 West 600 South
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84101
$99 12
  • Special rate
  • Additional Amenities
Hyatt Place
3090 E 6200 S
Holladay, UT 84121
$109 4
  • Special rate
  • Race busing & shuttling
  • Race-day bag breakfast
  • Aid station support
  • Additional Amenities
Make Reservation
Residence Inn Marriott
6425 S 3000 E
Salt Lake City, UT 84121
$104 4
  • Special rate
  • Race busing & shuttling
  • Race-day bag breakfast
  • Additional Amenities

Make Reservation

Perks for Big Cottonwood Marathon & Half Participants

Aside from offering the chance to run down an incredibly beautiful rocky mountain canyon, witness the bright colors of the leaves changing, and getting the best PR opportunity you may ever have, we strive to make this event even more memorable with some additional perks.

Free Photos & Personalized Videos

We provide all our runners with absolutely free race-day photos and personalized race-day videos. It's crazy to pay $50 to $100 for a single image download like other races make you do, and if you want multiple pictures you can easily end up paying more than what you did for your registration. We not only provide all your photos for free, we also compile a memorable highlight video that is customized with your photos and give that to you for free as well! At the Big Cottonwood Marathon & Half, your memories are on us! A registration email will be sent to each runner prior to the race to sign up for the free photos and videos, which will be made available shortly after the race.

Race Medals

Our race medals are not your run-of-the-mill awards. We award huge, high-quality medals that are equal to your effort. Medals from previous years can be seen in the slider at the top of our home page. These are certain to win a place at the top of your medal collection.


You will receive a high-quality gender-specific race shirt. We guarantee that this will be a shirt you will want to keep, and maybe purchase an extra or two.

Great Swag

While this year's swag is still to be determined, last year we offered a "GO BIG" silicone wristband, a temporary tattoo to pump you up on race day, a leaf logo window decal, race day gloves, and a mylar blanket to keep you warm at the start lines - all on top of some great promo materials from our sponsors.

Finish Line Festivities

Once you cross the line, stay to enjoy the exciting atmosphere at the finish. Runners will be greeted with some great food as you celebrate your achievement with friends and family. Check out the vendor booths, get a photo in front of our beautiful backdrops, listen to some great music, give a hand to the rest of the runners coming in, and attend the awards ceremonies to congratulate the winners.

Generous Transfer & Withdrawal Policy

We understand that things come up, which is why we try to be as flexible and accommodating as possible. We allow runners to transfer between distances (half to full or full to half), transfer their entry to another individual, and even withdraw from the race if their plans change. Please see our withdraw/transfer page for more details.

Course-Specific Tips

Because this course is unique, we do have a few general tips to offer up to help ensure that you are prepared and ready to take advantage of this incredibly fast course.

Incorporate downhill training. Whatever training plan you use, remember that this course is unique and adjust your training accordingly. Read up on this Runner's World article for information on how to prepare for a downhill course. Our advice is to pick one workout roughly every two to three weeks to replace with a downhill training session. We also recommend making this your long run whenever possible. If you live somewhere with minimal or no hills, you can incorporate downhill running by setting a decline on a treadmill. If you are not yet accustomed to downhill running your legs may be extremely sore after these early sessions, but you should feel more and more accustomed to the downhill each time you return for your next downhill session.

Don't sweat the altitude. Because the canyon portion of the race is significantly downhill, the cardiovascular requirements during this portion are largely minimized. Additionally, atmospheric oxygen levels will increase as runners descend the canyon, allowing them to benefit from increased oxygen intake as they progress in the race. Based on the experiences of runners coming from lower elevation in previous years, altitude has not been a factor and many have been able to achieve personal records by significant amounts.

Go out easy. Anyone who has "bonked" in a half marathon or marathon before will likely tell you that they went out too hard in the beginning. The beauty of this course is that you do not need to risk going out too hard to run a PR. Your mile splits will likely be faster than you are accustomed to while in the canyon, but make sure that you do not push it too hard too early. Let the canyon do the work, check out the leaves, listen to the creek, and find someone fun to run with. We will also have pacers at various paces to keep you in check and on the right pace for your PR.

Take advantage of the downhill opportunity. The Big Cottonwood Marathon & Half offers an amazing opportunity to run a significant PR on a beautiful course. We are confident that you can set a personal record (PR) on this course regardless of where you are coming from, where you have raced before, or how many races you've run.

Consult Our Medical Lectures & Medical Team

Our medical team will be available to provide additional information regarding marathon training and specific training for this downhill course in the coming months. Please continue to check back on the website for updated information, lecture dates, and opportunities to consult directly with our medical team.

In the meantime, please refer to this presentation on downhill running given by Dr. Leslie Rassner, our 2013 Medical Director.

Ask Our Management Team

Our management team consists of long-time runners who are also uniquely qualified to comment on training with regards to this specific course. Between us we have countless races under our belts, avid downhill runners, and former elite collegiate and professional runners. Please feel free to contact us with any training-related questions you may have.

Online Training Plans

There are a number of online resources available to help you determine a training plan that is right for you. Most of these are customizable based on your previous experience and goals. A list of our favorite resources are included here:

It's Fast!

Quotes from our runners

  • “PR'd by 18 min and surprised my husband at the finish (he didn't expect me for another 20 min)”
    —Mary Steinmann
  • “I ran the full marathon. I PR'd by 21 minutes and qualified for Boston for the 1st time!! Well worth the trip from Georgia!”
    —Matthew Amick
  • “PR'd in the full by 10 mins!”
    —Josh Gwynn
  • “This was my second marathon and I PRed by 23 minutes! And qualified for Boston”
    —Adriana Vars
  • “This was my third marathon this month and I got a PR by 4 minutes! Whoo Hoo!”
    —Angie Whitworth Pace
  • “This was my 3rd Marathon and I finished in 3:47:27 which is 37 minutes faster than my previous PR.”
    —Jonathan Michael Hall
  • “PR'd full by 3, but missed BQ by 5.”
    —Mark Skillman
  • “PR'd in the Half by 10 mins, my husband Eric Carlson PR'd in the full by 30minutes!!!”
    —Amy Bissonnette Carlson
  • “My wife pr'd in the Marathon by 8 minutes and qualified from Boston with a time of 3:28! Best race ever!”
    —Mark Evers
  • “PR'd in the full by 35 minutes!”
    —Michelle Neff
  • “First half and did it in less time than my 12mile train. 2:10 woot woot!!!”
    —Lauren Arnold
  • “I PR'd! Half marathon and by a butt-load.”
    —Megan McLachlan Hunter
  • “PR'd the half by nearly 10 min. 1:37.”
    —Dave Welder
  • “This was my first 1/2. Met my goal to be under 2hrs. Finished in 1hr 57min. Great race.”
    —Carlos Setterberg
  • “Beat my best time by close to 17 minutes! Also, finished under two hours. Such a great course...”
    —Max Aeschbacher
  • “I got my PR in the the half yesterday. Beat my previous best time by more than 6 min. :)”
    —Jason Forsgren
  • “This was the BEST RACE EVER!! I loved every single thing about it!! :) it was my 6th half and I still managed to PR by 23 minutes!! :) thank you,”
    —Melissa Brown
  • “It was my first 1/2, but I finished 17 minutes faster than any of my training times.”
    —James Ritchey
  • “PR'd in the Half marathon by about 3 minutes! Best race ever!”
    —Alicia M Clouse
  • “I ran the half and I PR'd by 33 minutes!!!! I kicked butt! Thanks for an amazing race.”
    —Whitney Stallings Roberts
  • “I PR'd in the full by 10 minutes!”
    —Emily Kay Stoddard
  • “Half Marathon PR by 15 minutes. My goal was to come in under 2 hours. Finished at 1:47:42. Fast course!”
    —Dick Hekker
  • “I ran the half and PR'ed by over 3 minutes and 7 minutes faster than a half I ran earlier this year.”
    —Gary Schofield
  • “Beat my old PR by 9 minutes!”
    —Kimberly Ann Richards
  • “Qualified for Boston at a 3:32:47 and my last marathon I got a 3:44.”
    —Mary Ray Lauck
  • “PR'd in the full by 6 1/2 minutes!”
    —Melissa Soper
  • “Pr'd by over 20 minutes! This was a great race, the scenery was so beautiful.”
    —Debby Nohelty
  • “PRed by 11 minutes. Loved everything about the race.”
    —Isela Phelps
  • “PR'd in the Half by 9 minutes.”
    —Sheena Tucholski Ballard
  • “PR'd in the Half by 9 minutes! My first sub two hour. Loved this race so much!!”
    —Kerry Howard Kramer
  • “I ran the Half and PR'd by 6 min. Thanks for a great course!”
    —Violet Tellez
  • “PR'd in the full by 3 minutes and qualified for Boston. Thank you for a great race.”
    —Kelli Mascher Davey
  • “Ran the full, qualified for Boston and PRed by 27 minutes! So worth the trip to Utah! The best part was the beautiful canyon. Amazing.”
    —Linda Scollick Manion
  • “I PR'd on the marathon by 18 minutes. Qualified for Boston Marathon too. Beautiful course. :-)”
    —Ken Bluemel
  • “My wife beat my personal best (PB) time by 2 mins. Luckily we crossed the line together so now we both have new PBs of the same time. She even came in 2nd place in her age group!”
    —Royce Veater
  • “This was my second marathon - PR'd by 24 minutes - woo hoo! Gonna beat that next year!!”
    —Mimi Jackson
  • “PR'd in the Half by 7 min and 4 sec!”
    —Autumn Jeppson
  • “Came all the way from California to run in the half! It was beautiful and pr'd the half by 23 min! Awesome race !!”
    —Amy Payne
  • “PR'd in the Half by 21 minutes!”
    —Sarah M. McConkie
  • “PR'd by 11 min. Oh yeah!!!”
    —Kami Herbert Sondrup
  • “I shaved off 11 min my PR.”
    —Amy Lutz Coltrin
  • “PR'd in the 1/2 by 23 minutes baby!!:)”
    —Chantele Nordberg Pehrson
  • “PR by 5 mins. 1:52 down to 1:47. Great course!”
    —Daynia Pack
  • “This was my second HALF, 1:33...beat the last by 14 minutes. That S curve alone shaved 3 minutes off my time. :)”
    —David Decker

It's Beautiful!

Quotes from our runners

  • “It was the perfect scenery for the perfect race!”
    —Angie Whitworth Pace
  • “It was amazing! For sure coming back next year.”
    —Heather Wilhelm Carter
  • “It was gorgeous!!!”
    —Andrea Pringle Jones
  • “Best runner's high ever!”
    —Danina Thatcher
  • “It is like you are in a whole different world. So peaceful and pretty. We are so lucky to have these canyons right out our door!”
    —Zoe Dyksman
  • “Couldn't have a more beautiful setting for a run!”
    —Steven A. Ohlsen
  • “So beautiful!!”
    —Terry Greenfield Bahena
  • “What a great race and beautiful day! Can't wait till next year!”
    —Laurie Summerhays
  • “It was beautiful! I'll have to train more downhills for next year, though. :) But boy, was it a beautiful run!”
    —Elizabeth Willey
  • “This was my first half marathon and I honestly got so lost in how beautiful the scenery was that I didn't notice my music stopped playing until I had already finished! Haha”
    —Rachel O'Driscoll
  • “So amazing!!!! Loved the course!!!”
    —Jason N Brandi Morf
  • “We kept saying 'Ooh look there, oh look at that' through the whole canyon. Gorgeous.”
    —Michelle Neff
  • “I loved this race!!! it was so pretty and fast! I will definitely do it again!”
    —Ana Maria
  • “The colors were amazing...I love Utah! Thanks for a great race.”
    —Lani Johnson Marquez
  • “It was so breathtakingly beautiful!! I can't wait to run it again next year!! Loved it!! :)”
    —Jann Hadfield Curtis
  • “I love running in the canyons! I feel like I can get away from the craziness of life, and have some peace and quiet! :-)”
    —Leslie Smart Hayden
  • “The true color run!”
    —Martin Cohen
  • “Absolutely incredible!!!!”
    —Susette Fisher
  • “Had to drive back up there on Sunday afternoon just to prove to myself that it really was that beautiful.”
    —Rob Bruendl
  • “My favorite runs are running down the canyon and enjoying the breath taking scenery.”
    —Kay Williams Garlick
  • “Big Cottonwood Canyon is my chapel! When I run in there, I found all my answers and my spirituality!”
    —Sandra Chamale Yingst
  • “It was a beautiful run for my first half marathon. :)”
    —Miranda Ann Redhouse
  • “So beautiful!! What a great race!”
    —Janie Jolley Newman
  • “Run, run as fast as you can you can't catch me I'm the canyon run man.”
    —Kevin Gowers
  • “I love Utah canyons... because you always have a tailwind running down them in the morning.”
    —Maureen Sletten
  • “Absolutely AMAZING!! Loved the course!”
    —LaRane Jensen Kasteler
  • “I loved it! It was beautiful. Looking forward to next year already!”
    —Gary Schofield
  • “It really does not get better than that. Running nirvana!”
    —Kristen Brinkman Olsen
  • “It was breathtakingly beautiful! I loved how fellow runners would stop to take pics along the way.”
    —Michelle Dickens Bocchino
  • “I loved it! So pretty and a really fun course.”
    —Andrea Vickers
  • “What a fun race. And you couldn't ask for prettier scenery.”
    —Lisa Turner Steed

The Cause

We are happy to support the Cottonwood Canyon Foundation whose ongoing mission is to improve the environment in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons through stewardship and top quality education programs.

More about the cause