Denver resident Brooke Stluka said she has a “big dream” to run races in all 50 states. When she searched Utah for an event, she discovered the Thelma and Louise Half Marathon and Relay in Moab.
The high school teacher and part-time health coach ran the Moab marathon two years ago, and will be back again for this year’s event on Saturday, June 3.
“It’s so much fun – there’s such a community around it being women only,” said Stluka, who skipped last year’s race because she was pregnant. “When I run a co-ed race, it feels more competitive, more intense. This race is women supporting women to do something amazing in a beautiful location.”
Six years ago, event owner Ranna Bieschke added the “Thelma and Louise” race to her collection of other events held each spring and fall.
“Some women feel more comfortable, more empowered,” participating in a female-only race, Bieschke said. “It’s a different energy.”
It’s not quite as competitive, she said.
“Women are more supportive of each other – it’s more of a getting together to celebrate that we’re all runners,” Bieschke said. “To me, it’s very empowering.”
The event is named for the 1991 movie that was filmed in the Moab area. The 13.1-mile half marathon course includes a “Brad Pitt Stop” – an aid station staffed by men wearing blue jeans, white T-shirts and cowboy hats. A vehicle that appeared in “Thelma and Louise,” and is owned by local resident Larry Campbell, will likely lead off the race, Bieschke said.
Those who prefer to run a shorter distance participate in the two-person 6.5-mile relay race, which is already full for this year. Relay runners are shuttled to the start or finish line by taking a boat ride on the Colorado River out to the turn-around point.
The race begins at 6 a.m. at the Gold Bar Campground and meanders along the Colorado River on state Route 279, also known as Potash Road. The highway will be closed to motor vehicles from 5:30 to 10 a.m. Runners who are still on the road after 10 a.m. will be required to catch a ride in the sweep vehicle.
The race time is limited to three hours and 30 minutes. The cut-off time for the relay exchange is one hour and 15 minutes, at 7:15 a.m., and for the half marathon, the cut-off occurs after one hour and 45 minutes, at 7:45 a.m. The mile 10 cut-off is at 8:40 a.m. Runners who do not make the cut-off times must board the sweep vehicle. The finish line closes at 9:30 a.m.
Water and Gatorade Endurance Formula will be provided at eight aid stations set up along the course. Porta-Potties will be available roughly every 1.5 miles.
Bieschke said a portion of the race proceeds will go to the Seekhaven Family Crisis and Resource Center, a local nonprofit that assists victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and Girls on the Run, a nationwide program that empowers girls in grades three through eight.
Participants receive a short-sleeve technical shirt, a unique belt buckle finisher medal, a timing chip and a reusable bag; they will also join a post-race party that includes refreshments and live music from a three-piece Western band, plus beer from one of Utah’s microbreweries. In addition, participants will have a chance after the race to win prizes by answering movie trivia questions.
Participants can register and pick up their race packets on Friday evening at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center, 111 E. 100 North, where there will also be a fundraiser dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. to benefit the Grand County High School marching band. The meal consists of pasta, marinara sauce, salad, fresh baked bread and a “sweet finish.” Tickets are $15 for adults, and $6 for kids under 12.
Thelma and Louise race takes place Saturday, June 3
When: Saturday, June 3; starts at 6 a.m. Packet pickup: Friday, June 2, from 4 to 8 p.m.
Where: Starts and finishes at Gold Bar Campground, state Route 279 (Potash Road)
Cost: Individual entry fees: $95; relay entry fees: $210
Information: www.moabhalfmarathon.com; 435-259-4525
For more information, go to: www.moabhalfmarathon.com, or call 435-259-4525.