JOSHUA TREE — Around 5,000 people are expected to drive into Joshua Tree for a half-marathon Saturday that starts and ends at the Joshua Tree Lake campground.
More than 3,100 runners from 45 states and five countries have signed up for the second annual Joshua Tree Half-Marathon Night Race, according to Vacation Races, the company that holds the race.
About half will be visiting the Morongo Basin for the first time.
The runners have donated more than $12,000 to the National Park Foundation, Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Wanda Stadum said.
The Joshua Tree Lake RV and Campground on Sunfair Road will be filled with runners, vendors and race staff during the race expo, held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
The race will start at 6:15 p.m. and go until about 10:30 p.m. The course takes runners on hard, packed dirt roads around Joshua Tree.
Sunfair Road will be closed for about 20 minutes as all runners cross.
Roads on the course also include Coyote Valley, Sonora, Mt. Shasta, Winters, Border and Sunny Sands.
All runners will be required to wear headlamps or carry flashlights.
To prevent littering, this is a cup-free race. Runners will be offered Hydrapouches to wear and aid stations will provide refills.
The organizers also are committed to sending as little waste to the local landfill as possible. Trash stations will have bins for recycling, composting and “everything else,” and staff will sort through the material in the “everything else” bins to see what can be repurposed. For example, according to Vacation Races, they make belts out of used gel packets and building material from plastics and Styrofoam.
At the end of a Vacation Races event, the goal is to send less than one bag of actual trash to the landfill, according to the runners’ guide.
To encourage runners visiting the area to explore Joshua Tree National Park, the organizers will host club hikes to the Lost Palms Oasis, Willow Hole and Keys Ranch. Runners who complete one of these hikes within 72 hours of the race will get a medallion.