RACE #110: The SLC Haunted Half


I’ve been looking forward to this race for quite a while and for a number of reasons. For one, I love this race. Runtastic puts on a great Halloween race. Well, I should say races. They also have one in Provo and in Phoenix, AZ (both next week).

But, I also was excited to run the new course. After running the course the previous two times this would showed to be faster. Instead of running up through the U towards Memory Grove, the course runs down towards Sugar House Park from Emigration Canyon. I must say, I do like the new changes.

A lot.

One of the most gorgeous sunrises I’ve ever seen. This was at the summit of the canyon. SO BEAUTIFUL!

Additionally, I was sweeping the course for the RYR Pacers. It’s fairly well known how much I love pacing, especially sweeping. I find it tremendously rewarding, fun and inspiring. Whether I am pacing it alone or with someone else — it’s always a great experience. For this race I swept the course with my friend Connie Lyons — who also happened to be six and half months pregnant (more on that later).

The night before the race I spent the night ghost hunting with my family, Jimmy Chunga and the rest of the Goblins at the Zions Building in Downtown SLC. I didn’t get home until just after 3am. Since I had to be in Sugar House by 6am, I didn’t even chance going to sleep so I ended up just staying up all-night. Probably not the best idea, but I wasn’t really worried since I was sweeping the course and didn’t need to meet a certain pace.

Me and Elsha! It’s not a race without first getting our customary selfie. I love this young lady. Talk about an inspiration!

So, I just pumped myself up with some caffeine and merged my Friday and Saturday into one loooooong day.

The one thing about pacing — especially sweeping — is that you don’t know what to expect. Every race is different and anything can happen. You can be running with a first-time runner, an injured runner, walker or no one. It really depends on the race and it’s impossible to prepare for — so you just do it. That’s one of the things I love about sweeping.

Connie and I pretty much kept our distance from most runners for the first 5-6 miles of the race. We spent most of the time tailing a couple dressed as hippies while we picked up a number of gloves runners threw alongside the course. These gloves were perfect for winter running and were great quality. So why not pick some up for yourself when others could care less about them?

Me and Connie before the race. Um, I’m pretty sure I have food in my mouth?! Hot.

It was funny though, at one aid station while I was picking up gloves this teenage volunteer kind of freaked out at me when I started stuffing gloves in my bag. She was a bit taken back at the audacity of me “STEALING” the gloves so blatantly. She tried to guilt me in taking them. But, I told her these are just thrown away by the runners and they are not expecting them back. I don’t know if that sufficed as an answer, but I got a good laugh at it.

At about mile six or so we ran into JessicaSue — a first-time runner. This was her second organized race. She did a 5K earlier in the summer, but this was her first half. She is 25-30lbs. into a weight-loss journey and to help that journey along signed up for this race — not knowing what to expect. She was running alongside her health coach and by this point of the race she was starting to slowdown from an achy back, sore blistery feet and cramping quads.

But, she was still going.

So all four of us stuck together. We got out of Emigration Canyon as the police officers were opening up traffic along Sunnyside Ave. Since the runners had the right hand side before the cones were torn down we decided to move across the street to run along the run/bike lane.

Busting out the last few miles of the race.

Since we were the last runners on the course our biggest worry at this point was having the last two aid stations open. Luckily, the mile 9 station still had volunteers — they were breaking down — but still there. It was perfect because the heat was starting to rise just a bit. It wasn’t horrible, but enough to be slightly uncomfortable.

Throughout the last part of the race I tried to keep JessicaSue’s attention off of the pain and on the reasons why she was running. She is quite the warrior. Not only was she fighting through this race, but she’s also fought cancer and — like me — thyroid issues. It was just rewarding helping her along the course, but also making a new friend. I can’t say it enough, she inspired me. A lot.

The last half mile was the toughest along the way. Mainly because you could see the finish line as you are climbing a hill inside Sugar House Park. I am glad Connie was there because she related to JessicaSue how this final push was like childbirth. Something I couldn’t relate with, but I’ve had food babies before — sadly not the same.

As we came across the finish line the three of us backed off and let her cross by herself. It was a beautiful sight. One I tried to capture on my camera. It’s a beautiful picture, but it doesn’t give the moment justice. At last, she was a half-marathoner!

JessicaSue crossing the finish line at The Haunted Half in Sugar House Park. I love this picture.

Experiences like these that I had with JessicaSue are reasons why I love sweeping. I feel somewhat selfish in only asking for these assignments. It’s not because it’s easier than pacing a 2:30-2:40 time slot, it’s not because it’s “easy” (because it’s not) — it’s because I feel like I can relate to a lot of these runners. Whether it’s because they’re on a weight-loss journey, have a health setback or simply just love the sense of accomplishment of finishing — these are MY people.

I’ve been there, I am there and sweeping is my way of giving back to a sport that has given WAY much more. I’ve realized the more that I pace, the more sacred a gift I am able to give many of these runners in the back of the pack — empathy. Sympathy is great to give, but empathy is divine. And, on my drive back home from the race that day I shed a few tears realizing that.

But, with that said — I can’t wait to see what next week has in store for me. I can only guess.



After this weekend’s experience at The Haunted Half in Salt Lake City, I am REALLY excited about the Provo edition. I am sweeping the course and doing so alongside Tim Gill. His wife BJ is going to be joining us as well. This is the third time that I have swept with Tim — so we’re pros. And, quite honestly, I’ve learned a lot of “tricks” from him. He has a gift with people and diverted their attention from the pain to the task at hand. Especially with since sense of humor.

I am not sure exactly what I am going to dress up as. I could do the sweeping outfit again — but I think I need something different. I would say my friend Robert Merriman, but running shirtless during an early morning October race doesn’t sound like my idea of fun. Plus, I’m sure I could get arrest for that as well?

Either, way I will come up with something great. It should be a great time.



Leading up to my 50K (in three weeks … gulp!) I am going to be running the Snow Canyon Half Marathon down in St. George, Utah. I am BEYOND excited about this race. This has been on my race radar for a while now. But, since I signed up for the St. George Runner Series I decided to make it one of my two races so I can guarantee a spot into the St. George Marathon.

I am going to be carpooling down with the Henrys on the 6th after work. We’ll crash somewhere overnight, run the race and then come back home on Saturday afternoon. There are a few races up here in northern Utah, but since this will be November 7th and likely COLD … why not St. George? It just seems like the right thing to do.

Plus, since Jason is also running the 50K with me we’ll consider this our opportunity to warm up our race the following week.


Getting ready to ghost hunt with @benhansen00 and @jimmychunga at the old Zions Building. #iaintafraidofnoghost

A photo posted by joshua o. snow hansen™ (@kindaqwerty) on

Great friends give their friends cat socks. #checkmeowt A photo posted by joshua o. snow hansen™ (@kindaqwerty) on

This is what we do for fun as a family. We race the kids through tunnels to see who’s got the fastest kid. #kidlympics

A photo posted by joshua o. snow hansen™ (@kindaqwerty) on


Total Mileage Breakdown for 2015
2015 Training Miles – 230.5 miles
2015 Walking Miles – 399.8 miles
2015 Race Miles – 387.4 miles
2015 Total Miles – 1017.70 miles
Monthly Total Miles for 2015
January – 78.8 miles
February – 72.85 miles
March – 115.3 miles
April – 76.3 miles
May  97.4 miles
June  131.15 miles
July  101.65 miles
August  110.2 miles
September – 115.69 miles
October – 124.35 miles



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  1. Pingback: The 95th Fartlek Friday™ – So, um, this is Halloween? Can it be Christmas already? Cuz — I’ll gladly trade in all my candy corn for a chocolate Santa | Running180

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