Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
This weekend, runners flock to Moab for a wild trail marathon through the desert
Photo by Chris Hunter
Date: November 2, 2013
Distance: 26.2 miles (plus half marathon and 5K obstacle race options)
Elevation gain and loss: 3,500 feet
As you wind through canyons and valleys in a big loop along a backdrop of the La Sal Mountains, it’s easy to lose track of how long you’ve been running. This multi-terrain marathon includes narrow singletrack, rugged jeep trails, sandy washes, red slickrock, dirt road, old mining trails and a couple sketchy sections of fixed-line traversing.
You’ll run past sandstone arches, funky rock formations and lots of lizards. “It’s spectacular,” says race director Danelle Ballengee, four-time Pikes Peak Marathon winner, world-champion adventure racer, six-time “U.S. Athlete of the Year” and survivor of a near-death experience. “I love seeing how happy people are when they finish. I can see it in people’s eyes—that ‘oh wow’ look.”
There are some solid climbs, topping out around 5200 feet, that will get your blood pumping in the chilly desert morning. Aid station volunteers post up to offer refreshments in some of the most remote places on the trail, like in Taz’s Canyon at bottom of a long slickrock scramble—so you’ll never get too lonely out there.
Pam Minard, 47, from Dillon, Colorado, will be coming back for her third half-marathon in Moab. “I don’t have many opportunities to run along a rim trail about 1,000 feet above Kane Creek Road,” she says. “Plus, the trail is awesome, especially since my knees can’t handle pavement anymore!” A close friend of Ballengee, Minard keeps coming back to the event to spend quality time with her inspirational friend.
And the soup? Minard loves it. “Danelle knows what runners want when they’ve left their last calorie on the course,” she says. “Soup, cookies, sports drinks, water and more soup … yum!”
This event is sanctioned by USA Track & Field and serves as the Trail Half Marathon National Championship. Proceeds will support the Project Athena Foundation, which helps female survivors of debilitating injuries or illnesses discover themselves in outdoor recreation.