Are you a Thelma, or are you a Louise? Participants at the Thelma & Louise Half Marathon and Relay are encouraged to dress up as their favorite title character. [Photo by Aktiva Sport Photography / Courtesy of Ranna Bieschke]

Women from far and wide are being called upon to put on their running shoes.

The fifth annual Thelma & Louise Women’s Half Marathon and Relay is gathering runners from over 35 states to participate in this year’s event on Saturday, June 4.

“It’ll be a wild ride,” race director and Moab Half Marathon owner Ranna Bieschke promises. “Run with your best friend, your mom, your daughter, or new friends through the intense, gorgeous landscape of the outlaw heroines’ journey.”

Bieschke moved to Moab 20 years ago and has directed a variety of races. She was inspired to direct an all-women’s race by the 1991 Oscar-winning film about empowered femininity and friendship.

“Thelma & Louise” follows two sensational and rebellious women through the Southwest, and was filmed in multiple areas surrounding Moab, including Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park.

The Thelma & Louise Half Marathon invites women to evoke the tale, and experience the landscape through an event that inspires, challenges and gives back to women.

“It’s a different energy as an all-women’s race,” Bieschke said. “It’s smaller, but it’s also more intimate because women are more bonding than competing. That’s not to say that the runners aren’t competitive – but the context is more emotional.”

The organization anticipates that 650 women from across the nation will participate in the race. Participants can register online through Thursday, June 2, or at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center (MARC), 111 E. 100 North, on Friday, June 3, between 4 and 8 p.m. Proceeds go to two organizations that support women and girls: Girls on the Run and Seekhaven Family Crisis Center.

“It’s always been part of our mission to help organizations that embody the spirit of empowering women,” Bieschke said.

The race will begin at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning at the Gold Bar Campground. Runners will have three-and-a-half hours to complete the 13.1-mile course that runs along the Colorado River down Potash Road and back.

The course will be closed to traffic, but spectators are welcome to encourage and support participants at the starting line. Spectators can also enjoy the river and a variety of games. Local talent Sunnie and Sand Sheff will be entertaining with a three-piece band.

The race also offers a relay option, which includes a Canyonlands by Night and Day jet boat ride to the hand-off point.

“The boat ride is a unique element that the women really love,” Bieschke said.

Moab resident Katherine Sullivan has been involved with Thelma & Louise as a participant for three years now. She started by helping out at an aid station. 

“I thought it was a very fun idea to have a women’s-only race and was impressed by how organized and thorough it was,” she said.

The next year, she and her mother ran the relay together, which was a “really fantastic” experience for both of them, Sullivan said. 

“The course is beautiful and well-supported and the boat ride was a nice addition,” she said. “This year, my mom is unable to join, but I will be running the full half with some girlfriends from town. I’m looking forward to it!”

Bieschke says that the race will continue to return annually. In the future, she hopes to draw the faces of “Thelma & Louise” – actresses Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis – themselves to the event.

For more information, supporters can go to the MARC on Friday between 4 and 8 p.m. Additional details about the event are available at:

Runners will receive a custom tech shirt, a durable tote bag for gear and contributions from sponsors, and will have the opportunity to shop at the Moab Half Marathon Store.

The Grand County High School Marching Band will also be hosting a fundraising pasta dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase upon registration and at the door.

Thelma & Louise Half Marathon and Relay is back this weekend

What: Thelma & Louise Half Marathon and Relay

When: Saturday, June 4; race starts at 6:30 a.m.

Where: Potash Road; event begins and ends at Gold Bar Campground

Cost: $95 for half marathon and $99 for relay through Thursday, June 2. Registration cost increases to $105 for the half marathon and $110 for the relay on Friday, June 3. Entry fee includes short sleeve technical shirt, unique belt buckle finisher medal, timing chip, post-race refreshments, beer from one of Utah’s microbreweries and a reusable bag.

For more information, call 435-259-4525, or go to:

It’s a different energy as an all-women’s race … It’s smaller, but it’s also more intimate because women are more bonding than competing.