Few people would say that Moab is suffering from a shortage of events, but the overwhelming majority of those activities are geared toward younger participants.
With no competitive events to speak of for older athletes, longtime Moab resident Suzan Martin decided to launch the Moab Senior Games four years ago.
“We have a lot of events, but nothing in particular for seniors,” she said. “So I’m trying to introduce a little bit of that into Moab.”
When the event returns next week, athletes over the age of 50 can once again compete for the chance to win medals in golfing, disc golfing, tennis, power walking and other activities between Wednesday, Nov. 4, and Saturday, Nov. 7.
For Martin, the track and field competitions are always one of the main highlights.
“It’s always fascinating to see those old guys out there run like the wind – like grasshoppers,” she said.
Martin modeled her event after the Huntsman World Senior Games, which bring as many as 10,000 people to St. George each year. The Moab Senior Games are considerably smaller, with last year’s advance registration numbers reaching about 75 participants.
Former KZMU Community Radio Manager Jeff Flanders, who serves as the event’s sports director, said the size is one of the event’s main draws.
“The competition is obviously there, but it’s very fun and very social, and that’s a distinction between us and a bigger game like Huntsman, with 10,000 people,” he said.
This year, both Martin and Flanders are committed to promoting local interest in pickleball – a cross between tennis and badminton.
“It’s a great sport for seniors, because it’s not as fast as tennis,” Martin said. “You don’t hurt yourself.”
At the same time, it’s slightly more strenuous than badminton.
“It’s a fast game,” Flanders said. “It’s easy for it to be competitive.”
For players and spectators alike, Flanders said that pickleball is also a hugely entertaining.
“There’s a lot of chatter and laughter going on,” he said.
Unfortunately, there won’t be any chatter – or laughter – at the swimming pool this year. Martin said that she had to cancel the scheduled swimming competitions because organizers couldn’t line up enough participants.
Finding senior athletes from the Moab area is one ongoing challenge, although Martin and Flanders would love to change that.
“We’d like to get more of them aware of what we’re doing,” Martin said.
She welcomes any suggestions about the kinds of activities and competitions that local residents would be interested in joining.
“I’m always looking for ideas,” she said. “I’d love to listen to what they have to say (and) what they’d like to see us do.”
While local registration numbers are down, Martin is encouraged by the interest from senior athletes in the Four Corners region and other Western states.
Flanders said that he and Martin see Moab as a logical spot for a senior athletic competition because the community is such a major draw for active visitors from around the world.
“Senior games are very popular all over the country, and Moab’s a destination place,” he said. “That was part of the reason why we started it.”
Martin said the small nonprofit group gets by with the help of its 35 volunteers, as well as numerous sponsors, including Bighorn Lodge, Redstone Inn, Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab Rustic Inn and the Aarchway Inn. Support also comes from the City of Moab, Zax, Rider Plastics, Moab Property Management, Moab Star, Moab Happenings and the Moab Sun News.
“Good grief – I don’t know what I’d do without them,” she said.
The group also has a strong partnership with the Grand County School District, which allowed the group to use its facilities for the track and field and tennis events, she said.
This year, she said that five restaurants, as well as Castle Valley Winery, will be contributing to a Saturday night social at the Grand Center, 182 N. 500 West.
If you have any questions about individual games, contact Flanders at 435-260-8967. For more information, or to register online, go to moabseniorgames.com.
Golfing, disc golfing, tennis, power walking are among the events open to competitors
“We have a lot of events, but nothing in particular for seniors … So I’m trying to introduce a little bit of that into Moab.”
When: Wednesday, Nov. 4, through Saturday, Nov. 7
Where: Event locations vary; go to moabseniorgames.com for more information
Cost: $32 per athlete; registration is available through Sunday, Nov. 1
For more information, or to register online, go to moabseniorgames.com.