Kristen & Pete Stoughton
Zion is not only one of the oldest national parks, but one of the most visited. With its lush green valley floors, towering peeks, and flowing waters; it’s no wonder this is a hot destination for tourists and avid athletes alike. When Pete told me he was interested in running the Zion 100K, and having me and the kids tag along, I was thrilled to plan a vacation to one of Utah’s vacation spots. Little did I know, the park was even more beautiful than I expected, and the town even more family friendly than anticipated.
Visiting Zion in the spring meant some bustling crowds, but lots of perfectly packed trails, beautiful wildflowers, and optimal weather. The park was running free shuttle services to and from all the popular trailheads, which made entering and hiking around the park convenient and easy for our family. The hiking options in Zion are endless with plenty of short options for those with little legs and longer options for us parents and athletes. As a family we took our kids up part of Angels Landing, around Emeralds Pools, and down the paved path of the narrows. The park itself should be on everyones list as a must do family vacation spot.
The town of Springdale offers tons of great lodging options and restaurants. I think my 5 year old and I probably ate the best ice cream I’ve ever had at a little candy store downtown. There is certainly plenty to do and see while visiting the park.
This was a great location setting for an ultra race. I was able to catch Pete at mile 15 and 30 just a few minutes up the road from town with both kids in tow. This was however, the most accessible aid station access point, so after mile 30 I was happy to have a great town and park to entertain my two little ones with to pass the time.
To end the day, Matt Gunn designed the start and finish of the race to come into a town park outside of Springdale. With easy parking, a playground for the kids, music, bathrooms, food, and a beautiful surrounding we were able to pass the time waiting for Pete’s finish. This certainly, made the day and trip complete being able to see him cross the finish line after a long and hard day.
Matt Gunn has truly worked hard to pick locations for his ultra series races that are not only phenomenal in their unique beauty but ideal for the tag along crew that follows many ultra trail runners. One thing I have found, is that although I may not be able to see all the views along the course, being a part of the adventure allows me the opportunity to share in the passion my husband has for this elite sport. It has also showed our kids what commitment, endurance, support, and what passion looks like. Something they will take with them through the mountains and valleys in their own lives.
Thanks to Matt Gunn for encouraging our family to get outdoors and explore!