Monday, November 4, 2013

Moab Trail Marathon (Race Recap)

Moab, UT
Saturday, November 2
Marathon #22
Weather - Sunny, Perfect

I had been wanting to run the Moab Trail Marathon for a while. There is always something happening that weekend (last year, I believe it was Marine Corps). I managed to convince Hope to join me, and we were off on our adventure.


My dad decided he wanted to go with us so he could get some riding in. The original plan was to be on the road by 9. Everything ALWAYS takes longer than I estimate, and by the time we headed out it was 10:45. Of COURSE this meant that we would hit both traffic and SNOW in the mountains. I was really glad my dad was with us so I didn't have to drive. Snow in the mountains is The Worst.

We stopped for lunch at Subway and with all the weather slow downs, we didn't end up arriving in the Moab area until 6:45. We stopped to pick up our packets. Easy Peasy:

Dinner was at Zak's, the pizza buffet. Delicious.

Race Day

The race didn't start until 9:00 and was only about a 10-15 drive from the hotel. We woke up around 7:15, got ready, and had a decent breakfast in the hotel, complete with bacon. It was CHILLY when we left the hotel at 8:15. I was wearing arm sleeves and a light jacket. My dad was able to drop us off right at the start line, and with our Wave 4 start, we wouldn't be running until 9:21. We saw Luke right off the bat, wished him luck, then got in the bathroom line.

We had time to kill, so we cycled through the bathroom line one more time. And who should see me the second time through? My buddy Susette! (You can read her recap HERE). We headed over to the start area and only had about 8 minutes to wait for the gun to go off. I haven't done much running, obviously, but I had told Hope that I planned on "going for it," just in case she was still having hip issues.

The course, OBVIOUSLY, was amazing. I just love Moab, it is so beautiful out there!! We were taking it slow and easy and stopping to take (A LOT) of pictures:

I was expecting the trail to be fairly technical, with sand, dirt, rocks, roots, slick rock, etc. It was a bit tougher than I had anticipated, that's for sure. But again, so pretty.

The first aid station was over 5 mile from the start and I was glad I had decided to bring my pack as the early miles took longer to run than I had expected. There was finally a nice runnable section between miles 4 and 5.

The aid stations were REALLY great. They had lots of volunteers, water and heed and snacks. My favorite?? HALLOWEEN CANDY. I'll be upfront and say now that I did not take one single gel the entire race. I fueled almost exclusively with Hershey bars and Twix.

It was already getting warm out and we were just taking it easy. It was nice that there were still signs on the course even though we were in the middle of nowhere:

What is there to say? There was running, there was walking, there was climbing, there was sliding down on my butt, there was jumping... this course for REAL had everything. Oh, and TONS of rock, hahaha:

I'm at the bottom looking up at all the runners behind me
The half marathoners stuck with us until the second aid station at mile 9.7. Which, by the way, was the first course cutoff. We had to be there by 1:00 and got there comfortably at noon. By FAR my favorite aid station. I skipped the candy, had half a donut and BEER. No really, even way out here, there was beer. THANKS FOR THE PBR!!!

We then split from the half-ers and had to head up the road for about a mile for the next section. We had an out and back (maybe 2 miles total) that had the creek crossings, rocks, (what I called the haunted woods), more dirt, etc.

I'm hilarious.

At the turnaround, there was this sign, with a punch so you could punch your bib and prove you had gone all the way out:

Back out onto the road, and then we hit the next aid station. Got more candy, and as I was looking at my watch, I knew that we were heading for the "Mile 14 climb." I think I heard a rumor that this section is called "El Scorcho" - I don't know if that is true or not, but it was hot and hilly. Looking at my Garmin data when we were done, there was almost 1200' of climb in 1.5 miles.

See that dirt way down there? That's how low we were when we started the climb
Hope was REALLY not enjoying this section. This was only her third marathon, and really, her first legit trail race. She was having a really rough time, and I sort of feel like a jerk for leaving her on this section, but I knew that there was a pretty tight course limit, so after reminding her that she would be really upset if she quit, I took off.

Finally at the FOR REAL summit.

Up this high, I finally had cell service, so I texted my dad to let him know I'd likely be finishing an hour slower than I had originally thought. I looked behind me at the top and did not see Hope, but I know that she had been with a group of at least a dozen other runners, so I felt that she would be ok. The course was VERY well marked with orange flags, as well as spray paint on the slick rock.

After that insane climb, we were rewarded with some nice, runnable single track. (Have I mentioned how PRETTY Moab is??):

Then we had another section of CRAZY. It was part slick rock, part just GIANT red rock. I was jumping and climbing, running when I could. This was the first section where I really started to make some headway and started passing people. The course was a little bit more difficult to follow in this section, so I really had to pay attention. 

At the next aid station, around mile 17, I grabbed more candy, then headed out. We were on a jeep trail for about a half mile, and then we had a LONG section of slick rock. There were tons of cyclists out, but they were pretty good about moving out of the way and most of them were cheering for us (well, me, because at this time I was alone again). I passed another half dozen people on this section. Again, soooo pretty.

FINALLY, I got to come off this section, and then it was a gradual uphill to the next aid station at mile 21. See, signs in the middle of nowhere:

The jeep trail section was very hot and exposed and I finally drained my pack, about a mile before I got to the aid station. I filled up and then headed out, alone again. There was a nice runnable single track on the backside of what I had just run up. Looking below, it doesn't seem like we are that high up, but the above the river is a skinny line, and that is the road. The trail was skinny in sections so I was taking it easy, I certainly didn't want to fall off the trail.

I could see the finish area from here but knew that I still had 4 or so miles to go. And we still had not come across the rope section I was expecting. Then, all of a sudden, I came upon this:

What you are thinking is correct. We had to walk across that. OR, the other option was to go through the water, which was about 3 FEET deep. What. I managed to make it across without falling in, although going up the hill on the other side was very muddy and I almost slid back into it.

I arrived at the mile 23 aid station and was getting ready to grab water when a volunteer told me to head up to the finisher area because I had missed the cutoff. WHAT???? There WAS no cutoff from this point, except for the course cutoff of 7:45 (or 5:30 pm). I had only been running for 6:25, so I was nowhere CLOSE to being out of time. There were a half dozen other confused and angry runners in front of me that had already been told the same thing.

I LOST MY MIND. I'll admit, I raised my voice and was telling the volunteer to get the race director on the phone because I knew I still had well over an hour to do the last 3 miles. Finally, he let the group of us go, telling us that he was the sweeper and if he caught us we would not get a finisher time.


The last 3 miles might have been the craziest three miles of the course. I didn't get to take a chance to take as many pictures as I would have liked because I was freaking out about getting pulled and HOW I could have possibly misunderstood the course time limits. Here are some things we encountered (PLUS, OF COURSE, MORE UPHILL).

There was also a section we had to go DOWN with ropes, here, we are climbing up.
There was one remaining aid station and since I hadn't had time to grab anything at mile 23 (Heather, think "RACE OR PICTURE"), I grabbed some water and one more candy bar. Although by this time of day they were kind of hard and gross after being in the sun all day.
Climb over fallen tree and through a 4' storm drain?? Of course.
After going through the storm drain, we were then on dirt road for the last mile or so of the course. I had NOTHING left in me. NOTHING. There was a giant, steep hill to get up to the finish and I literally had to crawl up. I crossed the line with time to spare, an official finish time of 7:16:13. My dad had just gotten there and got this picture of me at the end:

I was STARVING and grabbed a quick quesadilla and a cup of soda, and then I went to talk to the race director so I could find out where Hope might be. I was very concerned that she would/had just gotten pulled, I mean, if I had barely made the cutoff and she was behind me...

Turns out, Hope had been with a group of 10-15 other runners that had been pulled at 23. They threw a big enough fit that a volunteer (and creator of the course) took them back out as a group so they could finish the race. Hope told me later that all the ropes had been taken down and they had to do that section without. What.

Happy she got to finish!

LOVE LOVE LOVE this picture!!!
Bib #2498
Official Time - 7:16:13
Official Place - 362/381
Gender Place - 140/149
Division Place - 48/53
Garmin Time - 7:16:14
Mile 1-5 - 14:40, 15:04, 15:55, 16:36, 17:38
Mile 6-10 - 12:32, 15:30, 12:41, 17:30, 21:18
Mile 11-15 - 11:51, 19:30, 14:48, 19:19, 28:06
Mile 16-20-19:01, 16:08, 16:37, 18:24, 15:08
Mile 21-26.2 - 16:12, 15:38, 17:45, 21:34, 16:28, 13:57

After the race, we headed back to the hotel to shower before dinner. I have left out a key piece of information from the story to not detract from the race experience. My dad had woken up in the morning ITCHY and thought he had been bitten by bed bugs. Hope and I were fine, so we were assuming he was just being crazy. Turns out, he DID get bit, and housekeeping DID find a bedbug. YUCK. We had a new room, but still at the same hotel.

Anyway, we all showered and then headed to the Brewery for dinner. ONLY, by this time it was so late that the wait was 1.5 hours. What??? I haven't eaten a real meal since breakfast. Wah.

Thankfully, they did take out orders, so we got burgers, fries, and beer to go.

Headed to bed fairly early.


Longest drive ever (well, not really, since we didn't hit snow on the way back).

  • Holy crap. Did I just completely MISS where the course is described as the hardest ever???
  • I felt fairly out of my league, and for ME, this was even harder than the Leadville marathon. Part of my reason for this is how TECHNICAL this course was.
  • I love Moab. I of course will be back, but probably not to run this particular race.
  • The website for the race is CONFUSING. There was NO cutoff listed for the mile 23 aid station, yet MANY people were pulled there (although it seems that most were allowed to eventually finish).
  • The aid stations were great. It would have been helpful for the website to be more clear on what was available at them.
  • There was only cell service for about 3 miles of the course. I didn't even have service at the start/finish area, so that was a bit unsettling.
  • This course for REAL had everything. It was the trailiest trail run ever! If you want to try a little bit of everything, run this.


  1. Wow, awesome post and awesome run! great now I want to do it, thanks!

  2. trailiest. lol.


  3. I totally want to do that race now. Why can't I live in a cool area??

  4. I loved reading this and knowing exactly where and what you were talking about as you described your experiences. Moab is BEAUTIFUL! In your opinion was this race harder than the 24 hour Moab run? For me personally, I love this trail marathon and will probably keep coming back to it each year. I wish we could have run together at some point during the day. See you again in December my friend! (Hopefully without rain or snow!!!)

  5. DUDE. I ran the half this weekend -- I didn't know you were running, otherwise I would have stopped to say hi. What's more eerie is that we also got dinner at Zak's the night before. I opted for the pizza buffet but definitely didn't get my money's worth because I was too nervous about over-eating giant slabs of cheese.

    By the looks of it, the marathon definitely pushed the envelope more than the half did -- and that one was already pretty intense. Way to get through it, ropes, ladders and slickrock and all.

  6. Renee you are incredible! Loved the pictures. I thought biking there was hard but to run Moab in a trail marathon! Moab is beautiful and I cannot wait to return again either.


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