Remember when I warned you about the crazy busy week ahead? #rmhalf

I was not kidding. Plus the wi fi in Estes Park was seriously awful.
Kat, Kristen, Sean and I went to Estes Park, Colorado to run the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon for the second time. This is my third time? I lose count. We have made it an annual trip and it is without question the best experience we have ever had with a race company.

Vacation Races is attached to national parks to remind people we have this great beauty right here in front of us and we should throw our selves into our cars and take road trips like we used to (or get on a plane like so many people did) when we were kids. We should travel the country and visit those parks we never thought we’d see.

We should see the parks unseen. Love the world we have and appreciate what God has given us with such grace. SO MUCH GRACE.

And so they show us the parks in the form of the half marathon and the 5k and they do that with the most well done races we’ve ever seen.

Leave No Trace: 
They want no trash at all found. If they catch you littering or throwing you trash you are disqualified and banned from all future races.
Bring your own container or buy one of their Hydra pouches. It’s reusable and you fill it up at each aid station. It’s rather brilliant and no more paper cups all over the road.
Discount for next year and visit the park:
They want you to stay and visit the park. Because the races aren’t IN the parks they want you to actually stay and visit. So they have hiking incentives of different levels and if you do one of those hikes and photograph proof with bib and medal within 72 hours you get 50% off the next year’s race. win win.
They encourage donations to the parks at checkout. Because…they care.
After the race they send out detailed surveys asking what can we do different…then they do those things different. Can you imagine the audacity?

I ran this race for the first time during my ~13 Half Marathons in 2013~ and I was completely hooked. At that time, the capped the race at 750 and there were only 200 runners. Sigh. The good old days. Now they allow 2500 runners which is a LOT more but still a VERY small race (hello….have you run a Rock ‘n Roll?). This is far better. After the race you get to enjoy the mountains, the town of Estes Park, the people, the food (if you don’t have Celiac there is pie and ice cream and oh so much joyful food…) if you do have Celiac we found several places to eat and I plan to make that Buffalo Burger with the gluten free bun we found at Ed’s Cantina and Grill  my last meal. I died with joy. We ate there twice.

I could go on and on…so I’ll leave you with this and tell you if you ever get a chance to run with Vacation Races at one of their national parks you should do it. It’s the best experience.  Estes Park is very touristy but if you go in knowing that you’ll still have a great time and in my experience 95% of the people appreciate you. That one guy in the t-shirt shop just had a bad day. Or perhaps needs a new job.

Bear Lake~ Rocky Mountain National Park

because the sunsets there all look like postcards…

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These are part of the course…on the left is the morning half marathon. The right was the evening 5k. It was awful. Really disgusting.

This was Bear Lake. I should just live there. It was my favorite.

Alberta Falls…

Sean took this of us to show the Continental Divide. See the girls with their hair all sleeked back in their cute bobbie pony tails? And mine…literally blowing straight forward? At least three photos show my hair going in four hundred directions. It’s pretty damn sexy. I am the master of the windblown look.

    this is what it is supposed to look like
this is what I look like. I’m a work in progress.

Middle of the half marathon…we’re totally excited to be here!

Shocking to believe I’m the one who went to school for photography here and this is the photo I took. So wrong. However, my disclaimer is that we couldn’t see anything. Anything. It was a blank screen the sun was so bright. So I just pointed…and pushed the button and basically said…hope you’re in the picture. so the were…and so was that red bag. Sorry Ladies. 🙁  (Kat is on the left, Kristen on the right, stupid red bag in the bottom corner)

Our rewards!
Source #rmhalf

Source: born2ramble on Instagram. This is the MOST amazing account. Worth your time.

I’m leaving you with that because it cannot be topped.
See you tomorrow!

Run on…and plan your next road trip to explore America. There is nothing like it.

unless otherwise marked: photo credits go to Katrina and or Kristen and the occasional Sean. They were all so good I had trouble choosing.