St. George welcomes thousands of participants to the 38th annual St. George Half Marathon

ST. GEORGE — Over 2,500 runners braved the brisk Saturday morning breeze to participate in the 38th annual St. George Half Marathon, 5K fun run and kids races.

Runners begin the 13.1-mile race, St. George, Utah, Jan 18, 2019 | Photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

The St. George Half Marathon is the longest running half-marathon in Southern Utah, and the path allows participants to run along the Virgin River on paved paths. Friends and families lined the start and finish line to support the runners as they kicked off the 13.1-mile race at 9 a.m.

Shane Mcaffee, St. George’s leisure services director, told St. George News Southern Utah simply benefits from the spirit of the event that runners, staff and volunteers bring every year, but it extends further than that.

“Economically, there’s obviously a benefit to the community,” he said. “I think more than anything, it gets people to go out, it gets people excited about themselves.”

The St. George Half Marathon and 5K fun run started out as a small annual event for local runners but has since grown into something bigger in its almost 40 years. Over 1,100 runners competed in the half-marathon event alone and a good percentage of the participants have come from outside of St. George and Washington County.

The medals participants of the 38th Annual St. George Half Marathon receive once they cross the finish line, St. George, Utah, Jan 18, 2019 | Photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

In the next year, Mcaffee said he expects there to be a 400-500 person increase in the number of runners participating in the half-marathon event.

“We’re going to put some more effort into marketing and promotionals,” he said. “It’s such a positive and happy time. There’s all of these people who were in a blizzard yesterday up north and now they’re down here getting a sunburn today.”

The St. George Half Marathon is the first Southern Utah race of 2020, which Mcaffee said is a great way for residents and visitors to kick of their New Year’s resolutions.

The City of St. George hosts a series of races — from 5Ks to triathlons — throughout the year to help people from all walks of life get outside, get active and see more of Southern Utah.

“Whether you’re a runner or not, find something you like to do that’s active and get outside,” “Go walk our trails; go ride a bicycle. Just get outside and have fun.”

The city’s next event is the Bikestock kids cycling event with a criterium and family fun bike ride on Feb. 1 beginning at 8:30 a.m. For the more competitive and experienced athletes, the Road Rage Duathlon with biking and running begins Feb. 8 at 9 a.m.

More information on these and other races can be found on the city’s special events and races homepage.