And they're off! Runners raced down the course at the start of last year's Winter Sun 10k race. This year's race will be held on Saturday, Dec. 2. [Photo courtesy of Denise Ricks]

Thanks to its temperate climate and breathtaking scenery, Moab has become a haven for outdoor recreation of all kinds.

The Winter Sun 10k, one of the area’s many foot races, is set to take place for its 35th year on Saturday, Dec. 2, and is sure to be a gratifying experience for many participants. The event, along with the Canyonlands Half Marathon series, was recently acquired by Mad Moose Events, a running events company owned by Justin and Denise Ricks.

The Rickses relocated to Moab in July and have been taking in all the area has to offer in the months since their arrival. Their teen children, Malachi and Kylah, are avid runners, and the whole family said it takes great pride in putting on the many races offered by its business.

With its starting line at the Moab Golf Club, runners will make their way along a scenic course of more than 6 miles, ending up at the high school’s track.

“This year, members of the Grand County High School girls basketball team will be volunteering at the aid station,” Denise Ricks said of the pit stop where runners will be able to grab a drink along the way.

Runners will meet at the high school the morning of the run to be shuttled to the starting point. Once finished, there will be an awards ceremony with prizes for various age groups and overall winners, as well as a raffle.

Awards for this year’s race were designed by local artist and fellow runner, Herbert Stash. No stranger to running in local races, Stash and his family volunteered and competed in the Moab Trail Marathon during the first weekend of November.

Moab resident Ken Ballantyne, who will be participating in Winter Sun for the 10th time this year, has just one rule for himself: “Show up, meet wonderful friends and have a great time.”

A common theme among runners is the inclusion and support they feel and experience within the ranks, which is one thing the Rickses strive to foster in all their events.

“It is a great feeling of accomplishment to complete the event, regardless of my time,” Ballantyne said.

In past years, he said that those who were more swift were always willing to encourage all their competitors, no matter their speed.

In addition to instilling a sense of community in participants, the Rickses ask local organizations to volunteer in their races and repay them by donating a portion of their proceeds in return.

“As we work to put our own spin on the Moab Half Marathon Series, we hope to continue its giving tradition in the Moab community,” Denise Ricks said.

Family is another aspect of life that is important to these runners.

“Justin and I have always been involved in our local running community, and have raised our kids to love the sport,” Ricks said.

Ballantyne’s daughter Stefani Nelson will make her debut in this year’s Winter Sun race as part of a weight loss journey she began in July 2016.

“She is my hero,” Ballantyne said.

No matter the outcome, all runners will be awarded with a finisher’s medal and a race shirt, as well as other gifts for being part of the race. The feeling of accomplishment will likely be a nice bonus, too.

What: Winter Sun 10k

When: Saturday, Dec. 2, at 10 a.m.

Where: Starts at Moab Golf Club and finishes at Grand County High School. All participants must catch a shuttle to the start; shuttles will be leaving the high school between 8 and 9:15 a.m.

Cost: $15 for youth under 18; $55 for 18 and over


Under new direction, Mad Moose Events hosts 35th annual run

As we work to put our own spin on the Moab Half Marathon Series, we hope to continue its giving tradition in the Moab community.

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