Up to 500 runners expected for annual Winter Sun 10K

As many as 500 runners are expected to participate in the 22nd annual Winter Sun 10K race on Saturday, Dec. 6. The event, part of the Winter Sun Festival, starts at 10 a.m. at the Moab Golf Club and ends with a lap around the Grand County High School track.

The race was started in 1983 by the Rimrock Foad Runners, which had recently taken over the direction of the Canyonlands Half Marathon, according to race director Ranna Bieschke, Both events, and two other races are now managed by Bieschke under the umbrella of Moab Half Marathon.

“When I came on board in ’96 it was really small,” she said. “We had less than a hundred people running.”

Bieschke said the group started the run as a thank-you for the local community.

“It was a locals run,” she said.

The event stayed small until Runners World magazine ran a feature on it a few years ago, Bieschke said. Since then, the number of participants has climbed.

“We have a handful of people come over from the Wasatch Front,” she said. “There’s a huge congregation from Grand Junction, and a small group from Durango.”

The race also serves as the final race in Moab Half Marathon’s “triple crown.” The “triple crown” is awarded to all racers who finish the Canyonlands Half Marathon, the Other Half marathon and the Winter Sun 10K, Bieschke said.

“We’ll have about 60 people participate in that,” she said.

Even though the race has grown, Bieschke said it’s still a local event.

“It’s something to do before the slow season really sets in,” she said.

Unlike the Canyonlands Half Marathon, the Other Half, and the Thelma and Louise Marathon that Bieschke also directs, the Winter Sun 10K is more of a fun run than a strict race, Bieschke said.

“We allow strollers and dogs on the course, which we don’t with the others,” she said.

“We do still have serious competitors,” Bieschke added, pointing out that the course runs mostly downhill. “It’s a fast course. It gives people a chance to get their personal best.”

On Saturday morning, racers will then wind their way along Spanish Valley Drive and Mill Creek Drive before turning onto the Millcreek Parkway and heading to the finish line at the high school.

Though the number of race participants is down compared to last year, Bieschke expects to see some people sign up the morning of the race. “Since it doesn’t start until ten, some people will wait and see what the weather is going to do before they decide whether or not to run,” she said. “Last year we had people signing up the morning of the race even with five inches of snow on the ground.”

In addition to the race, Bieschke said the organization will also be holding a sale to clear out merchandise from previous races.

“We have some great tech gear for the runners on your Christmas list,” she said.

More information about the race can be found at www.moabhalfmarathon.com/wintersun. Anyone interested in signing up the day of the race can do so at the packet pickup at Grand County High School from 8:15 to 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 6.

ByBy Laura Haley

Contributing Writer