On Saturday I ran the Arches Ultra Half Marathon put on by Mad Moose Events. Admittedly the title is a bit confusing, the race is called Arches Ultra they have a 50 mile, 50k, half marathon and 9k distances to choose from.
The race site describes the race as:
Arches Ultra is Moab’s newest trail race, and it travels along the border of Arches National Park, using Bar M, Klonzo, and Klondike Trail Systems. The trails are smooth and easy at points, technical slick rock at others, and there’s even some sand to shake things up. Winter is a great time to be in Moab running, and we’ve chosen a lower elevation run, that will give you views of the towering Moab cliffs, Arches National Park, and the snow covered La Sals.
There was packet pick-up available Friday night as well as race morning. We didn’t arrive in time on Friday so we opted for race morning.
We arrived at the race start just 10 miles outside of Moab about 45 minutes before the start of the race. It was plenty of time to grab my packet, visit the porta potty and get ready, I love the relaxed vibe of trail races.
The half marathon didn’t start until 9am so there was plenty of time to get ready in the morning. The kids came along to see me off, they were warm in the Thule with their down blanket.
We lined up at the start and heard a few tips on following course markers on slick rock and a gentle reminder to be kind to the environment by staying on the trail.
The first mile or so of the race is on a paved bike path. I think we all prefer trails but this was a nice chance to find a rhythm and warm up.
We then crossed onto trails for my favorite part of the race. We had a 4.5ish mile loop on some traditional trails.
It would have been muddy but the trails were still frozen so footing was good and the scenery was amazing.
Why are all the trails in Moab named like this? LOL
I was having so much fun talking to the other runners and enjoying the views.
You could see Arches National Park in the distance and the La Sal Mountains.
After the first loop there was an aid station well stocked with all the goodies you could want. My only complaint would be that if you needed the restroom you would have to run pretty far down to the parking lot and back up. Luckily I didn’t need it but it would not have been fun if I did.
The second loop was about 7 miles and mostly on slick rock. We still had incredible views but the terrain gets a lot more difficult.
Running on slick rock is definitely a Moab experience that shouldn’t be missed but it’s not easy. The rolling up and down makes it hard to find a rhythm and running so much on rock was hard on my joints.
I was so glad it wasn’t icy, that would have been extra challenging! The course was well marked so while there isn’t a “trail” on slick rock it was easy to not get lost. Plus there were lovely runners ahead of me that I followed =)
When you finish the second loop you drop back under the highway then run about half a mile on the bike path back to the race start.
It was so fun seeing my family and finishing, my legs were ready to be done. The finish line was well stocked and was a great atmosphere. They let Cannon cross the finish line with me.
Race swag was pretty great including a tech shirt, technical trucker and a medal in the shape of Delicate Arch.
I would for sure run this race again in the future. Doing one of the longer distances would be fun but I would have to figure out how to prepare to run on even more slick rock!