Camp Hale Half Marathon set for Saturday |

Camp Hale Half Marathon set for Saturday

Marlin Smickley at the 2019 Camp Hale Half Marathon. The 2020 event is set for Saturday.
Special to the Daily

With an eye to the skies, organizers have decided the Camp Hale area has seen clear enough conditions over the last few days to host a running race.

The Camp Hale Half Marathon, however, is no ordinary running race.

The most grueling of the Vail Recreation District’s seven race series, the 13.1-mile course begins at an altitude of 9,200 feet above sea level. The race is the fifth in the district’s Dynafit Vail Trail Running Series.

Race organizer Beth Pappas said participants are hoping for conditions similar to those seen on the eastern end of Eagle County over the last two days.

“It has been beautiful in Vail,” Pappas said.

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Smoke watch

Earlier in the week, race organizers issued a warning saying smoke from the Grizzly Creek Fire could cancel the event.

With the fire reaching 61% containment by Thursday, and high-elevation areas in Eagle County seeing light winds and even some rain over the last few days, the smoke has been cleared from many of the valleys near Camp Hale.

“The weather has been fluctuating but the skies are looking clear again,” Pappas said.

Marlin Smickley said he was hoping the race would happen. The 82-year-old hiker and runner said the half marathon has long been his favorite race for its beginnings on Vail Mountain, through the Benchmark area.

“That was a truly breathtaking course,” Smickley said.

After moving to Camp Hale, a relatively flat course which takes place on gravel roads, the half marathon race has developed a new appeal by offering runners a chance to compete on the same terrain that the ski troopers of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division used for training during World War II. 

“I like the new course for its history,” said Smickley, who is a former teacher.

No day-of registration

Due to tightened county restrictions regarding gathering sizes, registration is capped at 175 participants, and race starts will take place in waves, according to racer age categories, with the first wave beginning at 8 a.m. There will be one aid station on course for the 5K and several aid stations on course for the half marathon.

Day-of registration will not be allowed; participants can preregister at Racers can pick up their race numbers or register ahead of time in person on Fri, Aug. 28, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Vail Tennis Center in Ford Park.

While the race series title sponsor is Dynafit and the race is presented by Vail Health, Vail Recreation District partners in putting on the race series also include The Steadman Clinic, Steadman Philippon Research Institute, East West Hospitality, Alpine Wine & Spirits, Eagle Outside, Lululemon, Renewal by Andersen, Optic Nerve, Central Rockies Mortgage, Vail Mountain Coffee and Tea, Northside Coffee and Kitchen, Skratch Labs, Vail Resorts, Beaver Creek Resort Company, Vail Honeywagon, Honey Bunchies and KZYR 97.7.

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