The Red Hot 33k and 55k ultra trail race, held Saturday, Feb. 17, kicked off the ultra running season for more than 600 local and regional athletes. The race started at the Gemini Bridges trailhead and finished at Poison Spider Trail on Potash Road. The athletes ran a mixture of sand and slickrock trails, with elevation gains of 2,458 feet for the 33k and 4,800 feet for the 55k.
The race is popular for its stunning views of Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, Metal Masher Rim, Golden Spike and the Colorado River.
“The first year I did [the race] was without a permit, it was just me sending emails to a bunch of friends saying, ‘hey why don’t you come run with us in Moab on President’s Day Weekend,’ and 40 people showed up,” said organizer and Grassroots Events founder Chris Martinez.
Ten years later the race has grown to host hundreds of participants. The winners of this year’s race were Tyler McCandless from Boulder, Colo., finishing the 33k in 1:56:21, and Anthony Costales from Salt Lake City, finishing the 55k in 3:07:07. The best-placing athlete competing under the Moab banner was Justin Ricks, coming in at the No. 7 spot in the 33k race with a time of 2:23:27.
“It’s Moab so the whole course was beautiful,” said Ricks, also the founder of Mad Moose Events “I ran slower this year but still had a great time. I usually run 100 miles a week to train but recently I’ve only been running 40 since I’m busy organizing races and with my kids.”
Ricks moved to Moab last summer from Colorado Springs after having spent three months a year organizing races there. Mad Moose Events is organizing 16 ultra races in Utah and Colorado in 2018. The Canyonlands Half-Marathon, Behind the Rocks Ultra, Thelma & Louise Half-Marathon, Canyonlands: The Other Half, Dead Horse Ultra and Winter Sun 10k, are all the events Ricks will be hosting in Moab.
“Two years ago it snowed and was gorgeous, last year it rained, and this year we had a nice cold sunny morning,” said Andrea Olding, after participating in her fourth consecutive Red Hot with her husband, Matt, who has participated in eight of the races.
“This year our strategy was to start slow and we did good up until the high point, then my wife took off fast and I was like, ‘oh my gosh,’ and I kept up with her through the middle section where we passed lots of people, then the last couple of miles our legs got a little tired but before you know it we’re here and now we’re ready to have a beer,” Matt said at the finish line. “We’re a couple ... we finish together always, but she beats me once in a while if I get a late cramp.”
For more information on upcoming ultra races visit grassrootevents.net and madmooseevents.com