The most stunningly beautiful course I have run anywhere. Not an exaggeration. The USTAF has a boat load of National Championships. This was the Trail Marathon version and my second trip to Moab this year having completed the MAS50 miler in August. I’ll be back for this event next year. Garmin tells me this was a tad shy of 26.2 miles with 5,000ft of gain. Route here.
The race started at the Pritchett Canyon trailhead southwest of Moab near the Colorado River. Photo by Silke
The large field of 300+ marathoners bolted out of the start gate, onto a narrow single track and into the canyon, the early morning light still casting deep shadows.
Having maneuvered through the slickrock narrows, things opened up a bit onto a nice soft jeep road…time to drop the hammer a bit.
This was an amazing rock formation. Those having visited Arches are familiar with the Balanced Rock. This is a smaller but no less stunning version. I wish I had time to hike under it.
There was a fairly technical piece running around the rim of a canyon. The road below would take us back out towards the big climb of the day.
Just before the point where marathoners and half marathoners split, I caught up to my friend Ginna #533 (that is me right behind) who completed her first trail half! Nice job Ginna, sore foot and all. Photo by Silke
At this point, the race gets a bit lonely but more beautiful. Runners tend to be loners anyway, so we don’t mind, especially if you are looking at scenes like this.
The most difficult climb awaited us. This was almost two miles of climbing at 1,000ft/mile. I power hiked it for the most part and reeled in several people along the way. No one passed me from mile 13 onwards. This is looking up the incline.
The view about half way up looking back towards where we started in the green valley.
At this point, I decided in was to beautiful, and conceded the USTAF National Championship in favor of pictures and a few vanity shots 😉
And the scenery just got better and better. This is at the plateau of the climb.
This was a narrow slot that a barely fit through…..sideways! yes, we had to shimee our way through this thing.
The next couple of miles was on some awesome sections of slickrock…stunning.
Rounding the corner with the Colorado River back in view, I could see the finish and decided it was time to put the camera away and drop the hammer….well…..sort of
The race from this point became an obstacle course of ladder and rope climbing. This is the first of two roped sections. Hand over hand up to the top.
The reward being some more incredible rock formations.
Before wrapping this up, I have to insert an awesome shot of Silke’s husband Ryan who absolutely ran a world class race of 3:34 taking 15th overall. Photo by Silke
I didn’t even notice Silke on this last bit coming up over a hill onto the last 100 yards. This is my Eye of the Tiger. Photo by Silke
What an amazing race and a great group of people to share the weekend with. Cara, Ryan, Ginna, me and Heidi.