Last year around this time I received a message from J. Colt about a trail marathon he had just completed. J and Lori were going back in 2015 for Lori’s birthday, and he thought that Kelly and I would love this race. Heck ya, I love a challenging race!
Kelly and I intended to take a week long camping vacation in the Moab area sightseeing, mountain biking, and we would finish with the Moab Trail Marathon. Unfortunately Kelly had a big trial come up at work and was not able to take the time off. I invited Scott Rudy to make the trip with me and explore the area on the way. Scott had committed to helping his daughter, so obviously Dave and Scott’s Big Adventure was not going to happen. (Next time)! I thought about making the trip solo, but that didn’t really sound appealing. Fortunately, I got lucky and J and Lori invited me to travel with them. What a fun trip that was! Side note- if you plan on traveling from Spokane/CDA to Moab don't be in a hurry, this is a long ass drive (about 14 hours). J. and Lori picked me up at 4:00 am Thursday morning and we arrived in Moab Thursday evening about 9:00 pm. We took a blood oath after Salt Lake that we were not stopping again until we reached the Moab Brewery, so things got a little ugly in the car and the word “hangry” took on a new meaning. FYI-since you are in the heart of Mormon country here are a few things you should keep in mind.....most places close early (Moab Brewery closes at 10:00 pm) and the State of Utah only allows 3.2 ABV beer on tap...so order your beer in the can - I had the Jonny's IPA and it was delicious. And let’s see what else…..well actually that’s probably all you need to know. The scenery is beautiful and you should bring your own beer.
We checked in to our hotel at the Comfort Suites (I highly recommend this place). It is a fairly new hotel, very spacious and very clean. Friday we went site seeing at Canyonlands National Park and WOW, you should go to Canyonlands!
To ease our morning stress we woke up early, unfortunately the entire town of Moab was without power that morning (I feel there was a conspiracy somewhere). My recommendation is if you are travelling for a race and you absolutely cannot survive a race start without coffee, prepare for the worst. I personally know that Kelly would have been devastated had she been along. She feels that our awesome Aeropress should be available in a purse-size model (hmmm maybe I should contact them). I’m sure most of you can sympathize with J., Lori and I about how stressful it was to start a race with no coffee so I won’t go into huge detail here. I will say it sucked and leave it at that.
We had another mishap on the way to the start line, but we still made it in time for me to run the mile up to the start line (seriously with 1,500 participants there is not much parking so plan accordingly). It didn’t help that my wave had started 2 minutes early, but this was fine as the race uses chip timing, and I was able to just jump in.
The course starts up a canyon/ creek drainage and gradually climbs up through sand. You will spend a lot of time stepping up on rock ledges and dancing through loose rocks, so I highly recommend you consider a training plan specifically designed for this race ( I will have one available soon). You start at 4,000' elevation (next to the Colorado River) and run about 4 miles up to Kane Creek with about 750' of elevation gain. There you can open your legs a bit and make up some time. Enjoy it, because you will start walking around mile 7. In addition to stepping up on rock ledges, this race also features large drop offs, including sliding on your butt, about mile 7ish. jumping off of ledges (4 feet in some spots), running through narrow crevices, and a nice little 3 mile obstacle course at the end of the race. The 2nd aid station also features beer, I didn’t have any but I felt this was a nice gesture considering where we were. After the 2nd aid station there’s a pretty tough downhill, then you get a nice road to run a little out and back up a creek drainage to the 3rd aid station (make sure you fill up your water because it’s pretty hot and dry by now). This is where you start the 2 mile climb up scorched earth hill. This climb is runnable until the last mile and it gets pretty steep. I personally didn't run it as I wanted to save my legs for the rest to come.
After you make it to the top you will get to run some more and you can loosen up your legs. Enjoy this because it doesn’t last long and you will most likely be back to walking. The trail turns very technical here and you really need to watch your footing on the slick rock. Once you start descending into the canyon, you will come to a very narrow crevasse (I had to walk sideways and I still scraped my front and back). Oh also another side note about Moab, well actually about any race anywhere. If you have ever felt like you needed to wear white running shorts or white spandex, just don’t. After we had to slide down the trail on our butts the runner ahead of me, well I don’t know how to put this gently so I will stick with that advice, just don’t ever wear white running shorts or white spandex.
After this descent you are now at about mile 21 and wow there’s the finish line – unfortunately seeing the finish line and crossing the finish line are two different things. You will then run past the finish line and do a last little 3 mile out and back section. This is where the race directors and I parted ways with our thought process. This is the part where you get to run an obstacle course, yes between miles 22 and 26, the race directors felt that you needed to climb up ladders, climb a rope run through 2 sandy culverts, and make 2 seriously steep climbs. You will actually not get to run again until the last 50 feet when you can run underneath the finish arch. (I’m kidding I actually loved this part, I just like to pretend that I’m funny).
So that’s my race report for the Moab Trail Marathon, I will definitely be back next year as Lori and Kelly have unfinished business with this race, and I fell in love with the scenery in Moab. When I get to the finish line next year I will enjoy the soup and awesome quesadillas that the race offers, and of course I will be bringing my own beer with me to wash it all down because well we are in Moab! Don’t expect a PR on this course as this course is a CHALLENGE.
Aid stations: 9/10
Post race party: 4/10