For Karah Levely-Rinaldi, running the Thelma and Louise Half Marathon in Moab on May 12 is a no-brainer.
Of course, she’s going to do it.
The chance to run a race organized by Ranna Bieschke and her Moab Half Marathon crew coupled with the opportunity to take part in her first-ever women-only event?
The Grand Junction, Colo., resident signed up the day registration opened.
“I know it’s going to be a really well-run, organized event,” she said. “And it’s an excuse to come down to Moab again. It’s something I wanted to be a part of.”
This is the first year for the Thelma and Louise Half Marathon, named after the 1991 Geena Davis/Susan Sarandon movie filmed in Moab.
The 13.1-mile point-to-point route will take runners from near the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park, down Highway 313. The rolling but downhill course descends to 7-Mile wash before finishing at the Bar-M Chuckwagon near Arches National Park.
“I can’t wait,” said Bieschke, director of the Moab Half Marathon. “I think it’s going to be awesome.”
The Thelma and Louise Half is the newest Moab Half Marathon race. The organization puts on the Canyonlands Half Marathon each spring, The Other Half each fall and the Winter Sun 10K each December.
Registration for the Thelma and Louise Half is still open. Cost is $85 before May 1 and $95 after.
The race will benefit Girls on the Run, a program to develop confidence and positive self-image in pre-teen girls through running; and Seekhaven Family Crisis Center in Moab, providing services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Moab Half Marathon donates proceeds from all its races to charities and non-profits, contributes to a scholarship fund for local graduating seniors and sponsors road cleanups for the two half marathons.
Since taking over the Moab Half Marathon in 2002, Bieschke said she’s always wanted to do a race just for women. Naming it after the film, “Thelma and Louise,” just seemed to make sense.
But it took three years to get permission to use the name for the race, Bieschke said. It was only after running into the producer – in Moablast fall for the 20th anniversary of the film – that she finally got the OK.
Participants who registered by April 23 could choose to “personalize” their race bibs with either “Thelma” or “Louise,” whomever they most closely identified with.
All runners will receive technical race T-shirts and finisher’s medals. Post-race food, beer and live music will be on hand, too.
Bieschke expects 500 women to run this inaugural race.
Levely-Rinaldi, a married mother of four, didn’t take up running until after her youngest daughter was born in August 2006. After completing her own version of the “Couch to 5K” training plan, she entered The Other Half in Moab in the fall of 2007.
She was hooked.
Now, she’s run every Other Half and Canyonlands Half – except one, which she missed while running the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.– since.
Last weekend, she ran a 50-mile ultra race in the desert west of Grand Junction.
“I started running to lose weight and get back in shape after having four kids,” she said, “and it slowly became a slippery slope of wanting to get better and faster. It felt so good to get through a half marathon, which is something I didn’t think I could do six months prior.”
Entering an all-women’s race such as the Thelma and Louise Half is something every woman should consider, she said.
“It’s not about getting out there for time and being the fastest person,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to celebrate being out there with a bunch of other women and being in this beautiful part of the country and doing something good for yourself.”
“The thing about doing an all-women’s race is bout creating an environment for women and girls where they feel empowered, safe and comfortable,” she said. “It’s about the camaraderie. Any physical event, it’s so different when you have just the women because they support each other.”
It doesn’t mean men aren’t invited. Bieschke said she hopes they’ll come out to cheer on their wives, daughters, mothers and friends. They’re also welcome to volunteer.
To learn more or see a course map, visit www.moabhalfmarathon.org.