All posts by maryjparkin


On this glorious Sunday in Escalante Canyons country, we’re hoping that those of you who will be joining us next weekend will be lucky enough to likewise enjoy the very best of fall here.  Each year we fret about whether the fall colors will be at their peak, whether we’ll have a major storm, whether the weather will cooperate, and we keep our fingers crossed.

So far, forecasts are great!  We anticipate a sunny week ahead, with cooler temperatures but clear skies next weekend.  This is good not only for  our racers, but maybe even more so for our volunteers, who won’t be working off as much body heat as those of you in constant movement.

The first time we held this race, six years ago, it rained up until race day, then the night before it snowed in the higher elevations.  Race day, we all agree, was one of the most beautiful mornings ever witnessed around here.  The sun came out, the skies were full of that after-storm clarity and freshness, and the early snow in the distance was icing for the race experience.

One thing about this place, one of its great hidden treasures:  the weather is almost always wonderful.  Sure, we get some extremes in the middle of summer and winter, but our extremes are always tolerable, moderated by the low humidity and the shelter of such a variable topography.  Of course, as we all experience more extreme weather events, the Escalante Canyons are not immune, particularly in terms of flash floods, but at this time of year, well, it’s pretty much all good!

One other thought:  There are very few places on earth that you’ll experience the pure, clear air of this region.  We’re trying to hold onto that, and to our dark skies.  When you come to run next weekend, soak in this environment.  It’s stark, our communities are isolated, it’s a long way to cultural amenities like movie theaters and big-box stores, but it can’t be beat in terms of peace, a certain type of beauty, and joy.

Enjoy your time here, dear runners and families and friends!



I was reminded recently that this year’s race date, October 14, is also the birthdate of both my grandfather and his oldest child, Nora.  My mom (now 93) is the youngest of Granddad’s 14 children, and in talking with her, I saw how much it would mean to highlight this particular synchronicity.

Granddad_1490 (2).JPG

Granddad was born on October 14, 1879, and Aunt Nora was born on the same date in 1901.  Granddad’s wife and my grandmother, Rachel, died when Mom was 3 years old, after which Granddad raised all 14 children on his own  in a two-room house  in Lake Point, Utah, next to the Great Salt Lake.

Granddad worked for Kennecott Copper, as did my father and most of my uncles.  Later on he had a small subsistence orchard and farm in the western part of  Salt Lake valley.  Just imagine the daily strength it took to support all those kids while working full-time at the mine and raising his own food.

Think of this when you are pushing past your own perceived limits.   I hope you’ll join me in dedicating this tough race to those among us who have faced the most daunting of challenges.  While I’ll be thinking of my granddad, I hope you’ll think of whom you want to personally honor, including those who have been so terribly harmed by the recent hurricanes  and the Las Vegas tragedy.  In Granddad’s and their honor, run this race with all your heart, and stay tough!



Dear runners,

I’ve been meaning to post an anticipatory blog forever, but intentions that don’t translate into action are meaningless, right?  And those of you who’ve been training for this challenging event know better than anyone how important it is to make that particular existential leap.  I admire you all!

Chalk my lapse up to a couple of knee replacements and several months of travel this year.  Finally — finally! — I’m back in Escalante and canyon country, and I can’t express how wonderful it is to be here.  This is truly one of the most beautiful areas on earth.  It’s a place of respite and reflection, a place of clear skies and clarity of purpose, a place of long views and vastness.

If I could I surely would … run the marathon myself.  I loved those long training runs and marathons before my genetic makeup said no more, and it’s one of my biggest regrets that I can no longer lift both feet off the ground at once.  So to each runner who crosses that marathon or half-marathon start line and goes as far as you can go as fast as you can go:  know that I’m with you vicariously every precious step of the way.  And when you cross the finish line, I’ll be celebrating your triumph while remembering those times I broke my own personal ribbon.

This might be the smallest marathon or half marathon you’ll ever run, but I can guarantee that it will be among the most memorable races you’ll ever participate in.  There’s really nothing like it!  Think solitude, think the loneliness of the long-distance runner, think soaking in the rocks and the sky as energy sources, think breathing pure air, think running through stark slickrock to be greeted at the end by truly good people — this is what you’ll experience amidst all your own moment-by-moment impressions and efforts.

I know you’re all in the tapering phase of training at this point:  enjoy and appreciate and gear up!  If you have any questions, please contact me at, my go-to address.  I, and our race committee and our volunteers and our whole community, will be with you in spirit every step of the way on race day.  We can’t wait!

More tomorrow,



We’re happy to announce that for the next two weeks, until August 15th, you and a friend (or family member!) can register for either the marathon or half-marathon for the cost of a single registration.

To take advantage of this promotion, apply the discount code ECMFRIEND2017 when you link to the Its Your Race registration site.  Please contact us if you have any questions or difficulties as you register.

This promotion allows each member of your pair to run the entire race, although we will also compare your combined times to other registered pairs for team rankings.  Each team member will have all the benefits of an individual registration, including a t-shirt, medal, and race packet.

We hope you’ll take advantage of this offer, which has been popular for past races, and that we’ll see both of you on October 14th!


As we prepare to update the website for this year, we want to welcome everyone to the sixth annual running of the Escalante Canyons Marathon, scheduled for Saturday, October 14, 2017.

We also want to announce the inaugural run of the Escalante Canyons Half-Marathon, which will, at least this for this year, replace the ECM 10-Miler.  Although we’re doing this in response to feedback from many runners that they would prefer the more traditional distance, we know that those dedicated 10-milers who have turned this race into their own tradition may be disappointed with the change.  To these valued participants, we want to say a few things:

We are treating this first ECM Half-Marathon as an experiment, as we want to see if it does indeed prove to be a popular course.  We also need to make sure the logistics of the longer course are feasible.   Our preliminary race route, which we’ll finalize soon, will include the full length of the 10-miler course, with the additional 3.1 miles at the starting end on a beautiful, mostly downhill, groomed dirt road.

So we hope you 10-milers who’ve been planning to return this year are ready to put in a bit more training and join us for the ECM Half-Marathon.  We’d truly love to see you again!

As we prepare to launch registration for the 2017 races, we’ll be making a few other changes as well.  We’ll be working with as our registration platform; this company works closely with our Blue Dome, our timing partner.  The link to register via ITSYOURRACE will be up within the next week or two.

We’re also arranging to have much improved, interactive course maps as an integral part of, in hopes that participants in both races will be able to plan ahead for the terrain and elevation changes.

Stay tuned!  We’ll be up and running before the end of the month.  We hope you’ll add us to your calendars!