Some will be running to win and some will simply try for personal best times. Others will treat the 13-plus-mile run as a party on asphalt, dressing in costumes such as lime green tutus worn by a few runners in past races.
But everyone who takes part in the event as it winds through the canyons along state Route 128 to finish in Swanny City Park will be treated to scenic vistas along one of Utah’s three Scenic Byways.
Runners from 45 states and six countries (U.S., Canada, Austria, Mexico, Switzerland and the United Kingdom) have registered for this year’s race, which is set to begin at 10 a.m. The five-mile run starts at 9:30 a.m.
Autumn Ray of Tucson, Ariz., winner of the 2012 Thelma and Louise Half Marathon, is among the entrants in this year’s Canyonlands Half Marathon.
Race director Ranna Bieschke emphasized that SR 128 will be closed between mile post 12 and U.S. 191 from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. on race day. Also, traffic will be restricted on 500 West and 400 North from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.
For the first time, runners and race fans will be able to enjoy a beer garden in the park, where a finish-area expo opens at 10 a.m. on race day.
This is the first time since the half marathon instituted a lottery system several ago that a drawing wasn’t necessary to determine who would participate in the race. Race officials cap the event at 5,000 runners, but Bieschke said the number of 2013 entries fell about 200 short of that.
“I’m not sure what to attribute it to,” she said. “A few people have said it’s just gotten too expensive to come to Moab.”
Neither the men’s nor women’s 2012 winner is competing this year, Bieschke said, adding, “The field is wide open.”
Half-marathon records are 1:5:33 by Brandon Rhoads in 1997 and 1:17:31 by Nadia Prasad in 2003.
All half-marathon finishers will receive medals, which Bieschke said has only been done one other year. An awards ceremony for top finishers is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Saturday at the park pavilion. Finish results will be posted as they become available at the awards tent and also will be posted to the race website www.moabhalfmarathon.com.
The eighth annual Sheri Haymore Female Master Award will be given to the first woman finisher 40 years of age or older in the half marathon. Haymore died at the Canyonlands Half Marathon in 2005 and the award honors her memory.
Race weekend begins Friday, March 15, with an expo at the Center Street Gym, 203 E. Center St., from 1 to 9 p.m. The expo, which will feature several vendor booths selling running shoes, running clothing and other items, is open to the public.
Also on Friday, a pasta dinner with vegetable and meat marinara, pesto, salad, bread, garlic butter, dessert and beverages will be offered from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Moab Valley Inn, 771 S. Main St. Admission is $15 for adults and $6 for children age 5 and under. The dinner is a fundraiser for the Youth Garden Project.