I had wanted to run the ET Full Moon Half Marathon since I first heard about it in 2013 but due to conflicting race schedules I hadn't been able to until this year. I was in the midst of building my base back after my injury and surgery so a half marathon fit nicely into my training schedule.
The ET Full Moon Half Marathon is put on by Calico Racing. The course runs along the edge of the mysterious Area 51, on highway 375. This highway has had an overwhelming number of reported UFO sightings, so much so that in 1996 the federal government officially named it the "Extraterrestrial Highway".
The race is located in Rachel, NV, which is high desert, and typically offers cooler temperatures than the Las Vegas valley. This is a night race so all runners needed to wear a reflective vest and a head lamp.
We met at a hotel near the Strip and waited for several charter buses to take us to the race location. You can drive to the start but it is a few hours away and has very limited parking so taking the bus was a much easier option.
The buses were labeled with the different race distances (full marathon, half marathon, 10K and 5K). Each race had a different start line so having the racers separated made more logistical sense. We loaded into our appropriate bus and settled in for the 2.5 hour ride.
The buses stopped to drop off the marathon and 51K runners who had a midnight start time. This is where the "Black Mailbox" is, as well as a last minute packet pickup for those who couldn't pick them up in Las Vegas. We had picked our packets up at the hotel before be boarded the buses. There were several port-a potties at this location too. After a brief stop, we continued on to the half marathon starting point. There were a few port-a potties here and an aid station that the marathon and 51K runners would hit on their way through.
As 12:30 AM neared, we turned on our headlamps and lined up on the start line for some last minute instructions. My husband was going to pace me on this run since I was nervous about making my goal time. As the countdown started, we gave each other our customary "Good Luck" kiss and then we were off.
The run was a straight, point to point course. The first 6 miles were a constant climb to Coyote Summit at 5591 feet. The climb was steady and the steepest section was between 4.5-6 miles. There was a small false summit near the top that was a bit disheartening. Once at the top, we were rewarded with a nice long downhill run to the town of Rachel, NV.
This was an interesting venue for a race. The temperature was cooler but would have pockets of heat. The race is always scheduled on the weekend closest to a full moon. Unfortunately, there was a cloud cover so we couldn't see many stars. It was really dark and I could hear things off in the distance which often spooked me. I was glad that my husband was running with me. I just focused on following him and trying to keep up.
Once we were closer to Rachel, we could see the small town and it's lights. It was a nice beacon to aim for. We started to get passed by a few of the faster marathon and 51K runners. I didn't mind. They had to pass the finish line for an additional out and back before finishing.
My husband started to pick up the pace as we neared the finish line. I was struggling but was able to hang on. I knew the pain would end soon. We made a left hand turn off of Highway 375 to sprint to the end at the A'le'Inn, a tiny hotel and restaurant. We finished in 2:43:22. I was very happy with this time. It was close to my slowest half marathon ever but I didn't care. I ran the whole thing. I had hoped to finish in 2:45 and with my husband's help, I was able to come in just below that.
There was a huge spread of food at the finisher's table but I wasn't ready to eat anything. I grabbed a banana and a cup of chocolate milk. While we were eating and drinking, we saw that a bus was ready to leave and the next one would be about 30-45 minutes later. We decided to hurry up and get on board. This ended up being a good and a bad thing. As we were riding home, I was very thirsty and had nothing to drink. I also started to have tight legs that really wanted to stretch out. In hindsight, we should have caught the later bus in order to cool down and rehydrate. My husband, as well as most of the bus, fell asleep on the return ride but I wasn't able to. We arrived back to the hotel around 6-6:30 AM. We headed home but stopped for breakfast on the way. Once home, we settled in for a nice, well deserved nap.
I would definitely recommend this race to anyone. It is put on by a great company who always provides great tech shirts, original finisher's medals. fully stocked aid stations, unique placement awards, helpful volunteers, and fun courses.