Vacation Races: Yellowstone Half Marathon | An Interview with a Longtime Runner
Barbecues. The beach. Watermelon. Fireflies. If, when you hear the word “summer” you think of these things, then you probably also think of vacation. But have you ever thought of a race vacation?
My friend Janet Erlacher thought of just that when she and her husband started discussing places they could visit to celebrate his retirement this summer. Being a longtime runner, and having participated in a number of races throughout her running “career,” Janet decided she would try out another race put on by Vacation Races. She had previously done a couple of their other events but remembered a particular National Park race they offered that matched well with their vacation plans: Yellowstone Half Marathon.
I asked Janet some questions to learn a little bit more about her running background, her training, and her Vacation Race experience. Here’s what she had to say.
Disclaimer: I am not an affiliate for VacationRaces.com. I just wanted to highlight what seem to be some amazing race opportunities!
Can you share with us a little bit about your running history? How long have you been running and how did you first get into it?
I became hooked on running about 45 years ago when I was trying to stay in shape during the summer of junior high so I would be ready for the sports I played, which were lacrosse, hockey, gymnastics and cheerleading. I would run around the track at my school at Johnson Jr. High in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. It sounds so boring now, but that’s what I would do. The distance was usually 1 mile and I thought that was far.
Do you have a favorite race distance? Favorite race?
A few favorite distances are 10k and 15k with not really needing to train too much for them. My favorite race was Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon in the Amish country of Pennsylvania. The Amish put on the race with hot air balloons going up, all home-raised and cooked food by them, and they allowed us to run through their beautiful farms of rolling hills. The Amish children handed out water to the runners in their Amish clothes and were adorable.
What do you enjoy most about running and why?
Running is a way of life for me and I could not live without it. Running centers me, calms me down, and keeps me connected to all my friends who run.
You recently completed the Yellowstone Half Marathon, hosted by Vacation Races. How did you hear about this race and what guided your decision to sign up for it?
I recently ran the Yellowstone Half Marathon which is put on through Vacation Races. I was impressed by how organized they were at the Grand Circle Trailfest in Utah, which included Bryce Canyon Half Marathon, Zion Canyon Half, and Page Rim Circle – all in 3 consecutive days. So I didn’t hesitate to sign up when we decided to vacation in Yellowstone and celebrate my husband’s retirement.
I first heard about Vacation Races at the Everglades Inaugural Half Marathon.
What did your training for Yellowstone look like? Coming from the mostly flat terrain in Florida, were there any major changes to your usual race training that you had to implement to be prepared for the different elevation profile at Yellowstone?
Training for Yellowstone is challenging when you live in Florida. I ran any hill I could find and many causeway repeats, along with stairs. The beach and local trails were a big help. High Point in Cocoa! This is the highest elevation in Brevard County. It was also a great place to train with 83 feet above sea level. Not as high as Yellowstone, but better than nothing. In the half, we climbed about 300 feet and ran along the Madison River.
What did you enjoy most about this race?
The Yellowstone Half was a challenge due to so many rocky trails, but beautiful at the same time with evergreen trees all around you. The fresh air scent was amazing.
What did you enjoy least?
There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this race. I looked at the challenging trails as an adventure.
Is there anything you’d like to share with readers about doing an out-of-town race or, even more specifically, about any of the races put on by Vacation Races (Yellowstone included)?
My advice on out-of-town races, especially Vacation Races, would be to not hesitate and go try one. You will be pleased.
What’s next for you in the running sphere? Any future races on your schedule?
Future races for me… possibly the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in Washington DC and more trail races would be on my dance card.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Advice I would give would be to try your hardest at each race because you never know when you will place. I was surprised at my second marathon in Celebration, when I came in first place. I didn’t expect that to happen but was so happy I gave it my all.
Wrapping it up…
Well, a big ol’ THANK YOU to Janet for answering my questions. I enjoyed learning a bit more about how she got into running and about her training for Yellowstone. After hearing about her experience, I know I would absolutely love to do one (or many) of the races hosted by Vacation Races sometime in the future!
In addition to 5K and Half Marathon distances (in some of the most beautiful, picturesque locations in the US), they host Ultramarathons, a 3-day Trailfest (yes, you run ALL three days!), a variety of Global Adventures (think: daily trail runs in Patagonia 😲), and 3-day Wine Country Adventure trips.
If you’ve read this far, and still haven’t clicked over to Vacation Races’ site, what are you waiting for?! Go there now and discover all they have to offer. Then come back and let us know…
Which one do you want to do first?