Runners geared up for spring during a past off-road duathlon and trail run event. [Photo courtesy of Danelle Ballengee]

You won’t get lost if you run the Spring Trail Run, or bike and run the Moab Off-Road Duathlon, on Saturday, March 3, and Sunday, March 4.

Anyone who has participated in events organized by Danelle Ballengee will tell you that the courses are always well-marked, and the races well-organized.

The March 4 Spring Trail Run actually includes a choice of two events – the 8-kilometer race, or the half-marathon – the latter of which Warren Ohlrich, who just recently turned 79, is participating in. He has attended several of Ballengee’s race events.

“Danelle always puts on such a great race – it’s a pleasure to participate in an event where the race director really knows what she’s doing,” Ohlrich said.

“It can be easy (at other events) to get off course, because you’re watching where you’re stepping” – but not at the Spring Trail Run because of how well Ballengee flags the course, he said.

The trail starts off with a meandering climb up a small creek bed, then winds through unique rock formations before opening up into the “dinosaur stomping ground” – a white slickrock area where hundreds of theropod tracks have been preserved.

The Moab Off-Road Duathlon, which takes place on March 3, is a 5-mile run and 8-mile mountain bike ride, also on the Klondike Bluffs Trails. Participants can do both portions of the event, or participate as a team with one person running, and another tagging off to do the mountain bike ride.

Much of the course is on singletrack, and for that reason on both days there will be five waves to the race, with the fastest runners going first.

New at the duathlon this year is a kids’ race, which is comprised of a 1-mile run and a 3-mile mountain bike ride.

“It will be a good introduction,” Ballengee said.

While the events are billed as races, “It’s more for fun,” Ballengee said. “It’s to get out early in the season and have good fun.”

As an endurance athlete, Ballengee has participated in triathlons, which included swimming. Duathlons are pretty rare, she said.

“I used to dread the swim (portion of triathlons), so I thought this way I could give back, and offer a multi-sport event for people who don’t like to swim,” Ballengee said.

Moab resident Melissa Fischer plans to participate both days – on March 3, she’ll provide water and snacks at a backcountry aid station, and then on March 4, she plans to run the 8K event.

“Danelle does a great job – it’s amazing,” Fischer said. “With her background, she knows how to organize and run a good race. She picks some of the most beautiful places to take full advantage of the scenery. And, she makes it challenging, but not overwhelming.”

Ohlrich also likes the course scenery, where, when you reach the high point there are views of Salt Valley, the La Sal Mountains and Arches National Park, he said.

Adding to the challenge and the fun, on March 4, is a Nature Scavenger Hunt. Runners will be given a list of 15 related items – so bring your camera or phone – to document the findings for a chance to win prizes at the end.

“The Nature Scavenger Hunt is more for the recreational runners (rather than the highly competitive) to make the miles go by quicker,” Ballengee said. “And it helps people pay attention to their surroundings.”

Ballengee said that 8K participants have the option to walk or run the course – that it’s easily walkable within the time frame before the race cutoff time of 12:30 p.m.

There are finisher medals for all the participants, as well as ribbons and prizes for the top three competitors in each age category.

“It’s not as much about winning awards as getting out there and doing it,” Ohlrich said. “It gives you something to work for; it motivates you to do conditioning, to stay in good shape.” Plus, “the runners are always so friendly; there’s good camaraderie.”

Time to get outside for Moab Off-Road Duathlon on March 3-4

What: Moab Off-Road Duathlon and Spring Trail Run

When: Saturday, March 3, starting at 8:15 a.m., and Sunday, March 4, starting at 8 a.m.

Where: Klondike Bluffs Trails, north of Moab

Cost: Various fees depending on event; age, and date of registration

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