Steve Russell (right front) played pickleball during a previous Moab Senior Games event. This year’s Senior Games will run from Wednesday, Oct. 18, through Saturday, Oct. 21. [Photo courtesy of Moab Senior Games]

After senior-newspaper publisher Suzan Martin noted the popularity of the annual Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, she decided six years ago that Moab needed its own Senior Games event. Thousands of people from all over the world travel to St. George for the event.

In Moab, the games typically draw between 50 and 80 people from all over the country, Martin said. She said she hopes the Moab Senior Games will grow in popularity. There is no limit to the number of people who can participate.

Seniors 50 and older participate in an array of sports, including disc golf, golf-two-person scramble, dancing, pickleball, pinochle, powerwalk/racewalk, tennis, Ping-Pong, and track and field.

Participants sign in at the Grand Center, 182 N. 500 West, on Wednesday, Oct. 18, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the first day of Moab Senior Games.

That day includes dancing from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at the Grand Center, and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., pinochle – a trick-taking card game typically with two to four players using a 48-card deck. Walking tours happen daily.

Thursday, Oct. 19, includes a golf-two-person scramble at the Moab Country Club, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and pickleball at the Center Street Gym, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pickleball is a paddle sport that incorporates elements of tennis, badminton and Ping-pong, played either as doubles or singles.

A pickleball event will also take place on Friday, Oct. 20, at the same time and place. Plus, there is table tennis at the Grand Center, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Moab Senior Games concludes on Saturday, Oct. 21, with disc golf, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., half-hour power and race walks at Grand County High School, starting at 9:30 a.m., tennis at the high school from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., as well as track at 10 a.m. and field events at 11 a.m.

Lee Shenton, 70, participated in Moab Senior Games two years ago when he played both pickleball and tennis. He said he did well in pickleball; not so well in tennis.

However, “It was a lot of fun,” Shenton said. “I got to play against people my own age. I made it to the finals in my age group.”

“(Pickleball is) extremely popular with older players because there’s less wear and tear on the joints than during the more rigorous sports,” Shenton said.

Ironically, Shenton will be sitting out this year’s Senior Games after injuring his shoulder playing pickleball on an indoor basketball court, he said.

The late Jeff Flanders is memorialized on the senior games website for his work as “director, sports coordinator, fundraiser, and bookkeeper” of the event. Shenton recalled playing pickleball with Flanders two years ago.

“We all thought a lot of Jeff; he was fun to play with,” Shenton said.

Flanders’ widow Colleen Beever said her husband was known for wearing a “goofy Viking hat with horns when announcing and giving out the gold, bronze and silver medals,” and that he was the perfect person to coordinate the games.

“He always managed to put fun and humor in the Moab Senior Games,” she said. “Everyone loved it.”

Moab Senior Games kick off on Oct. 18

When: Wednesday, Oct. 18, through Saturday, Oct. 21

Where: Various locations around Moab

Cost: $29 registration fee; additional fees vary