Rating Scale (based on the amount of beer needed after race)
- 4 Brewskis: So excruciatingly painful and lame you’ll need a full year of recovery just to forget this race
- 3 Brewskis: The best thing said and remembered about race is; I finished
- 2 Brewskis: Challenging race in a masochistic I’d could do it again sort-of-way given enough time and Ibuprofen.
- 1 Brewski: Good solid race that exceeds your expectations
- No Brewski: A must-do annual event for both friends and family
If the race organizers were to set up several dozen treadmills down the main street of Moab and set them to 13 miles and call it the race, I think I would still go. There is a reason this race is 31-years-old with a lottery to get in. The reason is that this is a spectacular well-run race, in a beautiful location, with perfect weather, and a gently rolling downhill course almost guaranteed to help you smash your personal best.
Please move closer to your screen. This part is just between you and me. You see I’m really having a hard time writing this review because I sort of feel like I want to keep this race our little secret. I’ve been lucky enough to get into the race two years in a row and all I need is for the word to get out that this race just rocks! So do me a small favor please. Let’s just keep the rest of this review between us. Call it our little secret and if you do happen to enter the race and get a slot just smile and keep it to yourself.
Ok that we’ve got that cleared up here’s the rest of the review. Feel free to move back now ;-)
What makes this race so incredible is the location. The race starts about 10 miles up the canyon from Moab. The course follows the road down along the silt filled roaring Colorado River as it cuts through the red clay earth creating towering cliffs and of almost indescribable beauty.
But I’ll give it a shot anyway.
The massive towering cliffs loom over you as you pound the rolling pavement toward Moab. Image running a half marathon in a Vatican Cathedral of perhaps through the very opening of the Grand Canyon. There is a spiritual timeless beauty to this part of the country that is real and palatable. You can almost feel the wondering ghost of the countless Anastasi Indians that made this part of the Southwest their home.
There is actually a stone on the other side of Moab called the birthing stone that still carries the scars of long dead Anastasi Indian women. These now forgotten women clutched the rock while giving birth and clawed their hand marks into the stone during their labor spasm.
The two largest age groups by far are females 25 to 29 and 30 to 34. It hard to image a larger gathering of blonde fit and trim females outside of Berlin rave party. If you are a single Mormon guy, this must be the very best place to pick up your next wife or two. Not only are your pickings extremely fit, but Moab seems to actually have some of the most lax alcohol rules in all of Utah. During race weekend you might actually have a chance at getting tipsy post race prospect.
Just like Germany, I have a deep love/hate relationship with Utah. In Germany I love all the “everything in order” mentality and really hate the “everything in order ” mentality. Utah, on the other hand, strikes me as the 1950’s America of my sitcom dreams, where family values still rule the roost and you can get as much ice cold coke as you like as long as you completely forget about the rum.
Moab has best of both worlds. It has that great family friendly attitude plus two breweries. The half marathon with some 3000 racers and their friends and family is by far the biggest weekend event in this tiny town. Yet the locals really put out the welcome mat and are genuinely happy to have the race in town. Everybody we met bent over backwards to accommodate our little Boulder band of runners.
This year the race organizers did away with the traditional Kokopelli finisher medals, but instead spent the money on high quality running shirts and hats. I personally can’t stand another cotton race shirt or running hat, so it was great to get something I will actually use again and not give away to my brother-in-law.
Here’s a tip to all you would be race organizers from the Moab crew. Have your water and Gatorade ready and stacked up for the runners. Place signs a few hundred feet in front of the water stations letting the runners know they are just ahead. This allows me to pop a GU just before the aid station and grab a water or Gatorade to wash it down and not even miss a step. At too many other races they have clumsy kids filling up the cups, just seconds before I go by, with tepid water in tiny amounts.
The two years I’ve run the race the temperatures have been almost perfect in between the fifties and sixties. This year we did have an almost constant headwind, but it mostly server to keep me cool.
NTKS (Need To Know Secrets)
- The race starts at 10:00 a.m. which is god sent for all of us non-morning people. The buses take you up to the start of the race starting at about 7:00. Hang out in your hotel until at least 9:00 and catch the last bus. No need to freeze in the Canyon listening to that mandatory pre-race seventies pre-race hard rock. I get it guys, but I'm not runnin' on empty.
- When you get to the start of the race, walk down to the river until they call you to the line. Not only is the sand soft, making for a great place to sit and stretch, but the sun will be shining over the canyon cliffs onto this beach keeping you warn and cozy.
- After the race I like to have a chocolate shake at the Moab dinner. This is a brief walk down main street. They still make their shakes the old fashioned way. Image, if you will, they actually still use vanilla ice cream, milk and chocolate syrup. If you are feeling really giddy, consider adding a hamburger and fries for just over $5.00 bucks. You got to love the 1950’s prices.
- After the race stick around an extra day of two and visit Arches National Park or Island in the Sky at Canyons National Park. Both of these spectacular national gems are just minutes outside of Moab. I could go on blabbering about how beautiful they are but you just take my word for it and check them out for yourself as part of your next perfect family race weekend.