“Thelma and Louise,” the classic film, is now a classic race.
The seventh annual Thelma and Louise Half Marathon and Relay will take place in Moab on Saturday, June 2. Race participants will be shuttled from town to the starting line at the Corona Arch Trailhead, and the mostly flat, out-and-back course follows State Route 279 along the Colorado River.
Parts of the classic movie, which was released in 1991, were filmed in the Moab area. Scenes at “the Grand Canyon” were actually filmed at Dead Horse Point State Park. Seeing those beautiful landscapes in real life is what attracts some participants to the race.
“One of the reasons I am doing this race is because it’s my first time in Moab,” said Lisa Pozzoni, a personal trainer and running coach based in Mesa, Arizona. She is traveling to Moab with a running mate for the 2018 race. Her clients know her as coach Lisa of The Running University.
“I love first-time experiences and visiting new places, and running allows me to do that,” Pozzoni said. “I am excited to run in a new location and enjoy the beautiful scenery that Moab has to offer.”
“Thelma & Louise” has become an icon for feminism, and the race embraces giving women their own event to challenge themselves, experience the freedom of running and support one another.
“I enjoy both, but there is a different energy when it’s women only,” Pozzoni said. “There is a stronger sense of camaraderie that I don’t think is there when it’s a co-ed race.”
Denise Ricks, one of the marathon’s organizers, agrees that the energy is different at an all-women event.
“Women are really excited to have a girls’ weekend, and they’re always really happy to be there and excited about it,” Ricks said. “They’re still going to have some competitors, don’t get me wrong.”
Ricks said that last year’s marathon winner, Sharlie Dimick, who finished with a time of 1:30:12, will be returning again this year.
“But, I think that women just have this different mind-set when they come into a light, ‘ladies only’ event,” Ricks said.
Ricks and her husband, Justin, operate Mad Moose Events, and organize races in Colorado as well as Moab. In July, they purchased a series of Moab events, including the Canyonlands Half Marathon, The Other Half Marathon, the Winter Sun race, and the Thelma and Louise Half Marathon and Relay from Ranna Bieschke, the previous director of the events. Bieschke was ready to move on from her role at the head of these events, and the Rickses were already directing other races in the region. The Rickses are Moab residents, passionate runners, and have attended many Moab running events in the past, making Mad Moose Events compatible for taking over the ownership of the races.
Though there are new organizers, the race will be similar to past events. Runners can sign up for the full half-marathon, or as a two-person relay team. Participants can choose to wear a “Thelma” bib or a “Louise” bib, and are encouraged to dress up as their favorite character from the movie. In past years, relay team members have been shuttled to the swap point by boats operated by Canyonlands by Night. The river is low this spring, however, so the boats may not be able to reach the ramp at Gold Bar Campground, which is one of the pick-up points. If the boats can’t make it, there will be an alternative shuttle.
Volunteers from local organizations are staffing aid stations every 1.5 miles. The race, in turn, donates to those local organizations, which this year includes the Grand County Running Club, the Grand County High School debate team and the Grand County High School girls’ basketball team.
After the race, there will be a raffle with “Thelma & Louise” trivia.
Ricks said she and her husband and kids watched the movie as a family.
“We’ll watch it again this week,” she said, “so we’re nice and freshened up for the trivia at the end.” Prizes at the raffle will include contributions from Mad Moose Events sponsors and local businesses.
Back in town, participants can enjoy complimentary beverages from Moab Brewery.
The Thelma and Louise Half Marathon and Relay is an opportunity for a challenge and a workout, and also to relax and have fun. Coach Lisa values this balance — she wants to enjoy running, even if it comes at the expense of running her fastest.
“I want to take pictures, enjoy it and be in the moment,” she said.
‘Thelma and Louise’ run wild this weekend
“There is a stronger sense of camaraderie that I don’t think is there when it’s a co-ed race.”
Where: Shuttles leave from the Helen M. Knight Elementary School to the starting point at Corona Arch Trailhead
When: Saturday, June 2, at 5:30 a.m.
Cost: $105 for the half marathon; relay sold out
Info: Visit Mad Moose Events at madmooseevents.com/thelma-and-louise-half-marathon-rel