After scrapping my plan to do the Caldera Triple this year, I was still determined to do the Vacation Races Bison Double in Yellowstone, and finish I did! It was a challenging weekend due to the weather and one hiccup with the race medals, but overall it was a wonderful race.*Disclaimer, I am a Vacation Races Ambassador, however I DID pay for my registration for the Bison Double and received no compensation for this race review.*The Bison Double consists of a 5k Friday evening and a half marathon the following day. Many Vacation Races have a Double option and I always sign up for them because of the amazing medal haul you get for doing both. Finishers get a 5k medal, a half medal, and a big glorious medal for doing the double. The 5K was a first for me in that I had family running (well, walking) it with me! After 4 years of running, my subtle hints and empty bank account have somehow inspired these people to do this crazy stuff with me. I was so happy and excited about this development. There’s talk of them doing the 5K at Rocky Mountain with me too, and I could not be more thrilled. If you’ve never been to Yellowstone, you need to add it to your bucket list. I drove there from my home in Colorado and the Grand Tetons followed by Yellowstone were magically breathtaking. The courses aren’t in the park; they never are, and there is GREAT reason for that. Imagine 2000-3000 runners trampling through the forest, accidentally leaving Gu wrappers and tissues on the trail for the bears and other critters to investigate and pick clean. (The Gu wrapper, not the tissues.) Imagine the damage done to the trail and surrounding vegetation? It’s a lot of impact on the environment, and not the best idea to keep our National Parks pristine. That said the National Parks Service sponsors and fully supports Vacation Races. The goal is to get folks out for a race and to enjoy the natural treasures our wonderful nation has to be proud of. That’s a message I can total get behind. The evening of the 5k was cold and wet. So wet. And muddy. I had zero experience running in wet, cold conditions, and that is totally by design. But it wasn’t bad, thanks to a disposable poncho and my Skirt Sports running gear. The first mile was through town on paved road. Then we transitioned to dirt (read mud) trail for the rest of the race. It wasn’t bad, but we had to pay attention to avoid slipping in the mud or sloshing through deep puddles. I took my time and took it easy because I wanted to be sure I could do the half in the morning. The trail wove through thick forest or tall, slender lodge pole pine. If we were gonna see a bear, this would have been the place! Luckily we didn’t, though. We slogged through with a time of about 42:00. Slow by steady. When the half started in the morning, the weather hadn’t improved. In fact it was wetter, colder and there was graupel falling. (Google graupel because it’s the weirdest.) I dressed in layers and was grateful my shoes had dried out overnight. We started by taking the 5k course and then extending the trail to a 740 foot elevation gain at mile 5 through 6.5. It was grueling. I was grateful for living in Colorado because it was obvious from the wheezing all around me that folks were really struggling with the altitude. Don’t underestimate high altitude races, folks! They will kick your butt every time. The trail was wet and super muddy, but the sun came out before we hit mile 4 and it was glorious! I was running this one alone, and just kept to my mantra: Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. Through the mud and up, up, up the mountain. It was slow, but I stayed under Disney balloon lady pace (always my measure of failure) until mile 7. The course took a lovely turn as we came down the mountain and ran alongside one of the many rivers in the area. It was one of the prettiest courses ever from then on. The trail also turned more technical with large rocks and loose gravel but the decline wasn’t too steep. I stumbled a few times but managed not to fall, and felt great as we crossed mile 10. The aid stations were just about every 2 miles and at mile 11 we savored the orange slices and bananas for that last little push. I wasn’t fast at this race, my time was 3:42, but I finished it feeling good and happy. The only complaint I had about this race was the 5k medals and the Bison Double medals had been lost in shipping and I’m still waiting for them. I do expect to get them in the mail any day, and can’t wait to unite them with my half marathon medal. This little snafu didn’t deter me from deciding to the Caldera Triple next year. It’s ON!