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  • Writer's pictureJoe Nail

Project 1310 | Episode 8: Utah

100-degree heat, more altitude running, and more serious hills, but back to sub-4 hours for this marathon!

We drove from the Grand Canyon to Zion and made a quick pit stop at horseshoe bend in Page, AZ. I had only been to Zion once before on a trip with my high school and college friends. At the time Angel’s Landing and the Narrows seemed like a big task, but this time we would be needing a full 26.2 miles!

There is no escaping some elevation change in Zion if you want to run the cool parts of the park, but the main aspect I dreaded was the heat. This may seem like the ultimate irony given that I am running 50 marathons during the summer, but I don’t like distance running, and I particularly dislike running in the heat. Sometimes, it’s good to do hard things, though, and that is what this summer is all about.

The temps were over 100, so we loaded up extra on ice, Gatorade, water, and liquid IV. This run would also be a bit more logistically complicated, because the first part running from Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel would be mountain running and need to be supported by car. From there we would turn into the valley, which is only accessible by foot or e-bike after the shuttle stops running.

Our friends at a local shop, including Marine Corps veteran Evan Wallace, hooked us up with a couple of e-bikes, and we were off. Another special treat for this run was having the company of one of my best friends, Marco. He and his friend Jacob made the 6-hour journey from LA that morning just to run with us.

Like the Grand Canyon, I started the run, actually feeling pretty darn good. The sunset was stunning, and when the stars came out, and we were just alone in the canyon under the stars—just spectacular. As I’ve come to expect will likely always be the case for the rest of the summer, my body started really feeling it by mile 20. But I held a decent pace and finished the marathon in 3:58. From there I knocked out some push ups and then just laid out, exhausted from another big effort.


Max elevation: 4,836 feet

Max temp: 101 (91 for the run)

Time for marathon + 1,000 push-ups: 4:37 (3:58 marathon)

Elevation change: 2,618 ft

Heart rate: 157


Up next: Oregon



Over the course of 50 marathons, Joe will be running a total of 1,310 miles. Each and every mile will be dedicated to a veteran or service member nominated by this community.


In each of the 50 states, Joe will be running the marathon and completing the push-ups in an iconic location, from Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and encouraging everyone to come out and walk or run a mile in honor of a veteran or service member who you know or admire. In each state, Joe and the crew will also be meeting and walking or running with local veterans groups and active military service members.


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