Runner Dakota Jones runs on the Poison Spider trail portion of the Red Hot 55K and 33K race to be held on Saturday, Feb. 16. In the distance are the La Sal Mountains.

[Photo courtesy Grass Roots Events]

Runners will be hitting the trails Saturday for Moab’s Red Hot 55K and 33K.

Race Director Chris Martinez promises a party at the finish line.

“There will be a live DJ playing booty shaking music all day,” Martinez said “I wanted to create races that have the old-school family fun atmosphere where people want to hang out afterward. I want people to stay around and see that last person to cross the finish line.”

There is more than just the party at the finish line.

Martinez will host a second party for runners to celebrate with their friends and family at Eddie McStiff’s at 7:30 p.m.

This is the sixth year Grass Roots Events has planned the race. Registration for this year’s race opened Aug. 15. Within 24 hours all 400 slots for runners were filled. Martinez went to the Bureau of Land Management and asked if he could double the number of entrants. He now has 813 people registered to run this weekend.

For those who are metrically-challenged, the 55 kilometers is just a little over 34 miles and 33 kilometers is just a little over 20 miles. And these runners aren’t on pavement. They will be on trails usually seen by only mountain bikers and 4-wheel drive enthusiasts.

The starting line for both races is at the Gemini Bridges Trailhead on Highway 191 about nine miles north of Moab. The finish line for both races is at the Poison Spider Trailhead on State Route 279. Runners doing the 55K race have an additional outer loop on the Metal Masher Trail and through Arth’s Pasture before circling back onto the Gold Bar Trail to the finish line.

Martinez organizes three trail running events each year in Moab: The Red Hot 55K and 33K in February, the MAS50 in September, and the Amasa in April.

He began thinking about designing races after running the Pacific Crest Trail 50 Trail Run. Another runner asked him, “Why isn’t there an ultra-marathon in Moab?”

“A light went off in my head,” Martinez said.

He started the Moab Alpine to Slickrock 50 (MAS50) in 2004, a race that begins at 6500 feet at Pack Creek Ranch, rises to heights of 11,000 feet at Geyer and Burro passes on the LaSal Mountains before descending to the Slickrock trailhead at 4700 feet.

Martinez was inspired to design the Red Hot 55K and 33K race while running the Steel Bender trail with ultra-race runner Ian Torrence.

“It was a sunny wintery day and with the sun’s ray striking the snow-covered spires I immediately thought of hot embers glowing,” Martinez said. “I immediately envisioned a steady stream of runners experience the awe-inspiring views Ian and I had just experienced.”