Moab’s scenic, adventurous running experience

Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016 7:50 AM

Magnificent Moab. The land of canyons, arches, slick rock and sandstone never disappoints with its spectacular vistas and varied terrain.

For runners of the Moab Trail Marathon, Half Marathon and Adventure 5K last weekend, it exceeded their expectations with amazing single- and double-track trails, canyon rims, creek crossings, slick rock and sometimes sandy or muddy creek bottoms.

A group of friends and I headed to Moab to run the Half Marathon; we were all doing this race for the first time and it definitely exceeded our expectations.

Part of the pleasure of participating in nearby races is seeing and talking with other Durango folks, and this event drew many local runners.

Fort Lewis College geology professor Gary Gianniny has run in the event for the past five years with his family and friends.

“I’ve run this race every year since 2011,” said Gianniny. “My son, Gordon, told me about it, and it has become a tradition for our whole family and our Durango running pals.”

One of Gianniny’s pals, Durango High School cross country and track coach David McMillan started running the event in 2010 after watching the I Shouldn’t be Alive story about Danelle Ballengee.

Ballengee’s story recounted her 2006 survival and rescue after falling and shattering her pelvis while running the canyons in Moab. She also happens to be the race director for this event.

“It’s a great weekend with friends,” McMillan said. “After pouring energy into kids all season, it’s good to spend quality time with friends and family.”

The surroundng geology and race organization were the primary reasons most runners said will bring them back to run it again.

“The scenery was just amazing,” said Judith Vanderryn of Durango. “It was spectacular with a lot of really good runnable terrain; my favorite part was running on the rim above Kane Creek.”

For David Marvin, the race reminded him of how much he enjoys coming to Moab to hike and run, something he and his wife have done for many years.

“I just love being over here,” he said. “I think it was just a beautiful course, and the fact that it had rained recently made everything a little more vibrant.

“I felt really emotional at the run. maybe it’s because of this political season; it’s been so disruptive and divisive. It is really nice to be around a group of people that are united around one thing and being kind to each other.”

The festivities and the post-race celebration were evidence of just how much joy and delight the runners and volunteers feel being a part of this event.

There were cheers for all, and people lingered to encourage runners through the last creek crossing and up the steep hill to the finish.

This type of race for many is not about time or a personal record result. The beauty of the area, the technical aspects of the trail and the ever-present surprises that the organizers like to throw in make it more of a joyful journey than a race.

My friends and I and many others plan to return again for the experience and camaraderie of this unique and beautiful event.

Reach Marjorie Brinton at