Marathon

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 inclines and declines.

Unlike previous years, this course finishes on a great downhill! 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!

The out-and-back portion is from mile 15 to mile 23, and is mostly flat with some slight inclines and declines. After the out-and-back portion, the last three miles head straight downhill to the finish line.

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

The REVEL Big Cottonwood Expo will be held at the South Towne Expo Center on Friday, September 12, 2014. The expo center is located roughly 10 miles from the finish venue at South State Street in Sandy, Utah. The expo will run from 10:00 AM until 8:00 PM. Parking is free and is located on the west side of the building. The expo will be held in Hall 5, which is on the far north end of the building.

A photo ID is required to pick up your race bag. We will allow individuals to pick up someone else's bag, but will require a photocopy of the person's ID and a written note authorizing them to do so. Bag and shirt pickup will not be available the morning of the race.

Race-Day Parking & Busing

Race parking is available at the business parks to the immediate south of the finish line. Multiple parking garages are available for parking at that location as well as on the west side of Union Park Avenue. All parking is free.

Buses will depart from the corner of 1300 East and Fort Union Boulevard, just east of the finish line. Half marathon buses will load from the northwest corner of the intersection, and full marathon buses will load from the southeast corner of the intersection. Please make sure you get on the right bus! Staff will be on hand to help direct runners and ensure that parking and busing runs smoothly.

Spectators may also park at the same locations as runners, though parking spaces may be limited. If parking garages are full, additional parking is available in the retail lots to the south of the finish venue.

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 added to your race bag when you pick it up at the expo. 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.

For security purposes we require these bags to be used to carry any clothes or personal belongings to the starting area, as opposed to any other personal bags. 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.

Timing

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. Overall prize winners (top 3 in each race) 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, Mylar blankets, 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 continues straight onto Fort Union Boulevard and heads 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 beautiful 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 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. The aid station map below indicates the locations of each aid station as well as the supplies and amenities available at each.

Road Safety

The canyon will be partially closed to traffic from 7:00 AM until 10:30 AM on race day. During this time, the westbound lane will be reserved for runners. Traffic in the eastbound lane will be limited to one direction, and will be coordinated by police escorts. 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 cones 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. 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. Runners must follow their directions at all times in order to ensure their safety. Any runners seen intentionally running on the wrong side of cones or barricades will be disqualified.

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

For the full marathon, the cut-off time is equivalent to a 13:45/mile pace. 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 the full marathon, at roughly 22:00/mile.

Race Pacing

We will have pacers for both the full marathon and the half marathon to lead everyone to a fast time.

The full marathon will include pacers at various Boston-qualifying paces, including:

  • 3:05 (Men's 18-34 BQ mark)
  • 3:10 (Men's 35-39 BQ mark)
  • 3:15 (Men's 40-44 BQ mark)
  • 3:25 (Men's 45-49 BQ mark)
  • 3:35 (Women's 18-34 BQ mark)
  • 3:40 (Women's 35-39 BQ mark)
  • 3:45 (Women's 40-44 BQ mark)
  • 3:55 (Women's 45-49 BQ mark)

The half marathon will include pacers at the following paces:

  • 1:30
  • 1:40
  • 1:50
  • 2:00
  • 2:10
  • 2:20

Photography

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 of your high resolution digital race photos will be provided for free after the race. Your memories are on us!

Weather

While we can't predict the weather, we can provide some historical data for you.

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

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.

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.

In addition to the first-aid kits, various aid stations will be staffed by medical volunteers and equipped with a medical tent and cot. See the Aid Stations & Course Nutrition section for more details.

Spectator Locations

Because the canyon and Wasatch Boulevard will be completely closed to traffic, spectators will need to stake a spot out on Fort Union Boulevard. Refer your fan club to the course maps 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 Venue

The finish line is located at 1300 East Fort Union Boulevard, in the heart of Cottonwood Heights. Please refer to the finish venue map for information regarding the exact location of the finsiher's area, family meet-up area, awards, toilets, bag return, massage, team tents, and so forth.

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

Results

Your results will be available shortly after you cross the finish line at the results tent indicated in the finish venue map. Results will also be posted online as soon as possible after the race.

Awards & Awards Ceremonies

All runners completing the race will receive one of our famous finisher's medals. Additional awards will be given to the top 3 runners in each age division. Runners that place in the top 3 of their age division can claim their awards at the awards booth, indicated in the finish venue map. Age division placers must pick up their awards at the race.

Additional awards and prize money will be given to the top 3 overall finisher's in each race. The top 3 finishers in the half marathon will receive trophies, additional awards, and a cash prize of $300, $200, and $100, respectively. The top 3 finishers in the marathon will receive trophies, additional awards, and a cash prize of $500, $300, and $200, respectively.

Awards ceremonies will be held for the top 3 finishers in each race at the location indicated in the finish venue map. Times for the awards ceremonies are as follows:

  • Men's Half Marathon: 9:30 AM
  • Women's Half Marathon: 10:00 AM
  • Men's Marathon: 11:00 AM
  • Women's Marathon: 11:30 AM

Airport

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
801-685-9300
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
801-364-5200
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
800-331-3131

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.

Shirts

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, and finishing the run on a flat surface after the downhill to customize your legs to that transition. 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 Team

The medical team from Intermountain Healthcare's Alta View Hospital are available any time via our Ask a Doc link. If you have questions regarding a specific injury or anything else medical-related, they are the experts and are happy to help!

In addition to the Ask a Doc link, local runners are invited to attend lectures that will be hosted at Alta View Hospital, located at 9660 South 1300 East in Sandy, Utah. Lectures will be roughly one hour long, and will be held at 7:00 PM on July 17 and August 14. A free race entry will be raffled, and refreshments will be provided.

These lectures will cover a variety of subjects, including injury prevention, recovery, running technique, among other additional race-specific items. Race Directors will also be on-hand to answer any other race-specific questions.

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: