Desert RATS six-day ultra-marathon covers 148 miles
by Steve Kadel
staff writer
Jun 13, 2013 | 749 views | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Runners competing in the 148-mile Desert Race Across the Sand cross the desert between Grand Junction, Colo. This year’s Desert RATS event begins June 17. Courtesy photo
Runners competing in the 148-mile Desert Race Across the Sand cross the desert between Grand Junction, Colo. This year’s Desert RATS event begins June 17. Courtesy photo
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You don’t have to be a hardcore desert rat to enter the Desert Race Across the Sand (RATS), but it helps.

The annual event sponsored by Gemini Adventures tours the 148-mile Kokopelli Trail, starting in Grand Junction, Colo., and ending in Moab. Racers will begin the six-day trip June 17 after an organizational meeting in Moab a day earlier.

“This is a grueling event that will challenge the most seasoned athletes,” race organizer Reid Delman wrote on Gemini’s website.

Participants will run some portions of the trail and walk other sections. Each must carry a pack containing food, water, safety equipment and other essentials.

Desert RATS staff will provide tents and meals for the racers at designated camps each evening. The field is limited to 50 competitors and daily stages of the course range from nine miles to 52 miles.

Delman calls the 52-mile effort “what the race is all about … the most remote section this trail has to offer and racers will have to watch the road signs carefully. The section is certainly the great challenge but runners have 20 hours to complete this section, leaving runners with the option to run light and fast or to carry more gear and rest as needed along the course.”

The 52-mile segment, on day four and five of the race, is the only time participants are allowed to run at night. Racers finish on day six with a classic marathon of 26.2 miles, ending at the Slickrock Trail parking lot in the Sand Flats Recreation Area near Moab after descending from lofty elevations with views of the La Sal Mountains and Fisher Valley.

Participants came from Canada, Great Britain and 12 U.S. states last year. Delman likens the atmosphere to a small mobile city progressing along the trail.

“Each night the tent city buzzes with excitement as the day’s results and overall standings are posted and the nightly meeting is held to make announcements,” he wrote.

Each runner must carry an expedition journal with maps of the exact course, course description, crew information and points of interest along the route. Aid stations with food are positioned at several points along the trail.

To make sure that competitors have enough energy and water to survive harsh conditions, the rules require every participant to carry a minimum of 1,000 calories and 80 ounces of liquid per day.

“We strongly urge that each racer have the capability to carry 140 ounces of liquid,” Delman wrote.

Top finishers will get special awards while everyone finishing the entire course within the allotted time will receive a finisher’s award.

“Runners finishing the entire 148-mile course will arrive in Moab with the satisfaction of having completed the ultimate adventure running race,” Delman added.

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