Runners hit the road at the start of a previous Winter Sun 10K race. This year's event will be held on Saturday, Dec. 5. [Photo courtesy of Ranna Bieschke]

Before you put your running shoes away for the winter – you may want to consider the Winter Sun 10K, a relatively easy run – because it is flat or downhill and only 6.2 miles long.

Five hundred people from around the region are expected to run in the 33rd annual race, which takes place Saturday, Dec. 5.

“We’ll have 100 racers from Grand Junction (Colorado) alone,” said Ranna Bieschke, race director and owner of Moab Half Marathon, an organization that sponsors four Moab races throughout the year.

Participants are also expected from Arizona, New Mexico, Washington, Idaho and Alaska, as well as from Moab.

All ages are welcome – past participants have ranged in age from 6 to those in their 80s, Bieschke said. Racing categories are broken down into age groups – including under 12; 12-15; 16-19. After age 19, groups span 10 years, Bieschke said.

Other race categories include people running while pushing strollers with children, and individuals racing with dogs on leashes.

Medals will be given to the top three contestants in each age group. Prizes will also be awarded to the first place runner in the stroller and dog categories.

There’s also the Triple Crown award for all finishers of the three current year races – Canyonlands Half Marathon, The Other Half and the Winter Sun 10K. Another race, the Thelma and Louise Half Marathon, is open only to women and is thus not included in the Triple Crown award. Around 60 people competed for the Triple Crown medal last year, Bieschke said.

Moab resident Jarrod Davis and his wife Angel are both running in this year’s Triple Crown event, but not necessarily to win. This will be his second year participating, and Angel’s first.

“We’re just going for a fun time,” Jarrod Davis said.

The thing he likes about this particular race is that “it’s not too long, it’s really beautiful and I know most of the participants,” he said. “It’s a good end-of-the-year race for sure.”

A lot of people particularly enjoy this race because of its length, which makes it more accessible to people, Bieschke said.

“Compared to our other races, it’s half the distance,” she said.

Davis advises new runners to “dress warm” for this event as temperatures are typically in the nippy 30s at the start of the race.

The Winter Sun 10K begins at the Moab Golf Course, 2705 E. Bench Road, is “mostly downhill” and winds through a neighborhood, then cuts through Old City Park, and follows Spanish Valley Drive before ending up at Grand County High School, 608 S. 400 East, where participants will be treated to snacks, a raffle and an awards ceremony.

Many local merchants have donated “cool prizes” for the raffle – such as gift certificates from Spa Moab, Back of Beyond Books, and Milt’s Stop and Eat. Moonflower Community Cooperative and Sweet Cravings Bakery and Bistro have both donated gift baskets. Gearheads Outdoor Store is offering a LazerBrite flashlight.

The road will remain open to motorists, although Bieschke encourages drivers to avoid Spanish Valley Drive on the morning of the race. Spectators are encouraged to watch along the Mill Creek Parkway, which comprises the final three-quarter mile of the run.

While there is a discount for registering early, participants are free to sign up the day of the race. The entry fee includes a long-sleeved T-shirt, durable race bag, pre-race shuttles, hot drinks, raffle prizes, course support and post-race goodies to eat.

End-of-year race draws runners from around the region

What: 33rd annual Winter Sun 10K

Where: Race starts at Moab Golf Course, 2705 E. Bench Road; Finishes with a lap around Grand County High School track, 608 S. 400 E.

When: Dec. 5, Starts at 10 a.m.

Cost: $40 through Dec. 1; $45 Dec. 2-3; $50 packet pickup/ Race Day

Information: www.moabhalfmarathon.com; or 435-259-4525