Karl Meltzer runs in the Red Hot 55K trail race in 2013. Meltzer has the record for more 100 mile race wins by age 35. He will be running in the Red Hot 55K race this year. [Courtesy photo / 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.

This is the seventh year Grass Roots Events has planned the race. Over 700 racers are registered for the 33-kilometer and 55-kilometer trail races.

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.

Denise Ricks from Grass Roots Events said that this should prove to be a very competitive race, with experienced trail runners like Paul Hamilton who won the 2013 Rut Gut 50K, or Karl Meltzer who has more 100 mile race wins by age 35.

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.”

During the post-race party at the Poison Spider Trailhead, there will be free chile for the runners.

There will also be two food vendors for spectators and beer for sale in the beer garden.

“You must show ID to get into the beer garden. No beer goes out of the garden so with this in mind we located the beer garden near the live music so you can dance your booty off,” Martinez said. “There will be a live DJ playing great fun booty shaking music all day. At last years finish line runners seem to really enjoy the tunes, so I hired again DJ John to come back to liven up the atmosphere.”

Del Sol is providing massages at the finish line for a $1 a minute.

“I would take advantage of this if I was racing,” Martinez said. “They will provide privacy and warm heaters for your journey of bliss.”

Packet pickup is the day before at Eddie McStiff’s.

Due to the high volume of runners, there will be no day of race packet pickup.

“You must pick up your packet the night before,” Martinez said.

55K and 33K trail run has a party at the finish line

“I immediately envisioned a steady stream of runners experiencing the awe-inspiring views Ian and I had just experienced.” 

When: 8 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 15

Where: Begins at the Gemini Bridges Trailhead, Hwy 191; Ends Poison Spider Trailhead, State Route 279. Parking and shuttles for the finish line are at the Gold Bar Campsite on State Route 279

When: 1 to 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14

Where: Eddie McStiff’s, 59 S. Main St.