The female-only race is part of a nationwide trend toward events that are specifically for women, she said.
“It’s less intimidating,” Bieschke said. “There’s a different energy. It’s competitive but it’s more ‘we’re all in this together and we’re having fun.’ It’s special. It’s bonding.”
About 800 runners are expected for the Saturday, June 1, half-marathon. Four hundred women took part in 2012. This year’s participants come from 35 states.
“That tells you nationally how popular the concept of Thelma and Louise is,” Bieschke said.
Last year’s race was held near Dead Horse Point, but this year’s route starts and ends at Gold Bar Campground. It begins at 6:30 a.m. to beat the heat, Bieschke said.
Autumn Ray of Tucson, Ariz., won the 2012 race in 1 hour, 24 minutes, 10 seconds. Bieschke said Ray might be back to defend her title.
“She’s hoping she can arrange her schedule so she can do it,” Bieschke said.
Lauren Atkinson was the first Moab woman to finish the Canyonlands Half-Marathon on March 16, crossing the finish line in 25th place in the women’s race. Bieschke believes Atkinson will be among the top finishers again in the Thelma and Louise run.
“My guess is she will be in the top 10 for sure, and possibly the top five,” Bieschke said.
The Thelma and Louise race course follows state Route 279 along the Colorado River.
“We’ve never done an out-and-back [course] before,” Bieschke said.
She added that it is logistically easier and less costly to organize an out-and-back race because shuttle buses aren’t needed to take runners to the starting line.
Race officials’ only concern is whether there will be adequate parking at Gold Bar Campground, Bieschke said. For that reason, people are encouraged to car pool.
Like last year, some proceeds from the race will benefit the local Girls on the Run program and Seekhaven Family Resource Center.
Girls on the Run is a nationwide program for girls in grades three through eight. It involves running workouts but also emphasizes friendship, health, positive body image, self-esteem, community service and teaches how to resolve conflicts.
Seekhaven, in Moab, provides shelter to families in crisis and victims of domestic violence.
Each organization received $2,000 from the 2012 race.
“It will definitely be more this year,” Bieschke said.