There are only 88 long distance relays in America to date. Top of Zion Relay, to be held here in our own back yard, will be the relay of all relays. Southern Utah has a treat in store for runners!  When runners start to realize they will be running through 10 world class parks and scenic landmarks and incredible awe-inspiring beauty, this relay will grow very fast.

One other big name relay has capped off at 1500 runners. When word gets out to the running world that this race is not only an opportunity to run a new race, but will let runners into the back country of world class scenery, this relay will be popular around the world. 

Imagine running through this exciting scenery for the first time! Do you recall the first time you saw the breathtaking landscapes by Capital Reef, or the vivid red rock formations and towering white cliffs and unique and colorful hoodoos created through eons of time? Think of these runners going under the famous vermilion stone arches by Bryce for the first time, or running over the famous Hogs Back, a narrow stretch of highway that drops off 2000 feet on both sides of a narrow highway, overlooking vast mountain ranges.

Within just miles, the diverse landscape changes to beautiful thick pine tree forests, aspen groves that turn into open green meadows where deer are often seen.  Just as quickly, they’ll run through open plains that turn to shade trees, summer cabins, and beautiful Lake Navaho.  

Hundreds of runners will experience this diverse country run for the first time this summer as they cover 195 miles from Capitol Reef National Park to Zion National Park. It will end in our own Kane County at Zion Ponderosa Resort, overlooking the majestic Zion Park Mountains.  

Running, which is usually an individual sport, can now be enjoyed as a long distance team sport as relays are beginning to dot the nations. Teams consist of 12 runners or six ultra runners. They run 24 to 36 hours, through beauty by day and stars by night. They divide into two vehicles, typically decorated vans. While one van drives along supporting the runners, the other group rests, sleeps and tours. Each team member runs two to nine miles depending on their skill level.  

This is a grueling 195-mile adventure that now allows teammates of different skill levels to compete together…like a family, co-workers, buddies and friends of friends. They encourage each other in training before the relay.  During the relay they cheer each other on, sometimes running alongside the runner encouraging them on. When they cross that finish line, they have achieved together a life building experience, strengthening friendships and solidifying relationships. It is an adventure, it is a memory maker: Top of Zion.

We have a treasure here and now Top of Zion Relay will present it as never before seen.  This relay will bring an awakening to the hundreds of vacation possibilities, previously unnoticed.  We here in southern Utah have wanted to find ways to encourage tourism. Top of Zion Relay has become one of those avenues.   Top of Zion is more than just running.  It’s a destination vacation activity.

One more reason to support Top of Zion is the cause. Runners will be running for WHOLives.org, an organization that created a man-powered drill which allows people in third world countries to drill their own wells.  Clean water can change everything.

If you would like to be a volunteer or register a team, or be a sponsor, go to topofzion.com or Ellen@topofzion.com or call Ellen Johnson Mueller at 801-809 3230. Discounts include 25% off from now until June 25 ($50 per team member) to celebrate this inaugural run.

Volunteers will help with safety at one of 36 van exchanges and will receive a small compensation for their hours of fun involvement.

Sponsors may have an e-mail sent personally to each of the runners and/or have a flier advertising their business placed in each of the runner’s goody bags at the beginning of the race and be printed on the T-shirts.

Vendors are welcome at key locations to keep the runners fed and happy. Just call the above number to explain your interest.

Ellen is a native of Orderville, Utah, and understands how events like this can benefit each of the communities it passes through. She hopes you will help make this event a success for all on June 29-30 and for years to come.