Behind the Rocks Ultra preps runners for coming season

On Saturday, March 24 more than 500 runners competed in the Behind the Rocks Ultra Marathon. The race alternated through trails and roads south of town, culminating at the scenic Behind the Rocks finish line.

“It’s our smallest race for ultras, but one of the best courses and atmosphere with the camping,” Justin Ricks of Mad Moose Events said. “This is probably my favorite race so far. It was our first event that we ever did with Mad Moose.”

The family-run company hosts seven events in Moab, which are often staffed by friends and family members.

The event saw a smaller crowd than the Canyonlands Half Marathon the previous weekend, with most competitors coming from Utah and Colorado. For many of the racers, this ultra-marathon is an important training race as they begin a running season that culminates at the end of the summer.

“I’m just starting my training season so my big runs are in June or July,” 50k winner Bobby Peavey explained. An alumnus of Georgetown University’s track and field program, Peavey moved from Washington, D.C. to Denver in order to train at elevation. “I do a lot of my runs in Boulder,” Peavey continued. This offers him the ability to do shorter runs in town, and longer runs in the nearby Rocky Mountains at a more moderate pace. He explained, “Trail running is a hard enough sport. If you beat yourself into the ground you won’t last very long, so you’ve got to take it easy some days.”

The first Moab local to complete the 30k race, Megan Hicks, finished 35th overall in a time of 2:53.02. She was one of ten locals to compete in the event.

“I’ve done a couple of these guys’ races. I did the 50k a couple years ago, and last year I volunteered, and this year I ran the 30k,” Hicks said. “It was fun. I’m not in very good shape, so it was just the right amount of miles until it started to really hurt, but Behind the Rocks is always beautiful, so it’s a nice morning.”

Accustomed to training in the area, Hicks said she is aware of the local terrain and its dependence on weather. “It’s not an easy course. There’s a lot of sand and a lot of rocks, but we had a lot of rain yesterday so the sand was kind of damp, which was easier to run on,” she explained. “You could tell the last couple of miles the sand was drying out and it was getting tougher.” Seven of the ten local competitors joined Hicks in the 30k race, and Matt and Andrea Olding competed in the 50k race.

Mad Moose Events will host their next race in Moab on June 2 with the Thelma and Louise Half Marathon and 5-mile race, which are exclusively female events.

For more information visit madmooseevents.com.

ByBy Jacque Garcia

The Times-Independent