[Photo courtesy of Kokopelli Mountain Bike event]

Moab is often touted as the No. 1 mountain biking destination, with Fruita, Colorado, a close runner-up. So, it only made sense that the Kokopelli Trail — which begins at the Loma boat launch in Western Colorado and links the two towns — is the site of the Kokopelli Mountain Bike and Marathon/Relay race on Sept. 7 and 8.

Organizer and semi-professional runner Mark Jensen sought the advice of fellow athletes when deciding where to hold the event, which he founded last year.

“I asked my champion mountain biking friends, ‘If I was to create the world’s best mountain biking event, where would it be?’” Jensen said. “It was a resounding ‘Kokopelli Trail.’”

As Jensen did further research, he said he saw that it was true: dinosaurs once roamed the area, so fossils are abundant, and he said the scenery is stunning, with the Colorado River coming in and out of view.

While the course is not technical, the terrain varies in elevation, with a gain of 13,600-feet for the 140-mile event, and 11,000-plus feet for the 100-mile ride and run.

Some of the best mountain bikers have come to the area to ride the Kokopelli Trail, Jensen said.

There are several events during the Kokopelli Mountain Bike and Marathon/Relay from which to choose: the individual 100-mile ultra-marathon; the 100-mile ultra-marathon relay; the individual 140-mile mountain bike race; the individual 140-mile mountain bike race staged over two days; the individual 100-mile mountain bike race; the 140-mile mountain bike relay and the 100-mile mountain bike relay.

The 140-mile events start in downtown Fruita on the corner of Aspen Avenue and Mulberry Street.

The 100-mile events begin at the Westwater Airstrip off Interstate 70 in Utah. Races end at the former Red Rock Elementary, 685 Millcreek Drive, in Moab.

Transportation is available to take finishers from Moab back to Fruita for the finish party. Shuttles will leave every hour, from 2 to 7 p.m. Participants must sign up and pay for the shuttle when they register.

Bandera Brisket of Springville will provide a Friday evening meal and a Saturday morning breakfast for participants in the two-day race.

For the participants in the 140-mile one-day mountain biking event, Jenson said they should prepare to be challenged, and said that there are relay events that are much easier.

“We wanted events for everybody,” he said. “You can have up to six people on the relay team, or as few as two. So, if you want to do half of the Kokopelli trail, find a buddy.”

Or, get six friends for a relay team to complete an even shorter ride, he added.

Sanctioned by USA Cycling, the event is fully supported with aid stations along the route — eight for the 140-mile event, and six additional support stops for the marathon runners.

Jensen is partnering with Spot GPS, which creates global positioning system devices, to give every participant a GPS device. The devices are normally priced at $150. The Kokopelli Trail is remote, with little or no cell service.

With the GPS device participants will be able to send pre-written text messages, or emails, out to their contacts during the event. Additionally, if someone has an accident or needs assistance, the device is synched with the organization’s medical staff, Jensen said.

“It’s a great way to stay in touch with all of our racers at all times,” he said.

Mike Driver of Fruita participated in last year’s inaugural Kokopelli 100-mile mountain bike event, and he’s coming back for more this year, to compete in the 140-mile course.

The views change constantly, from high alpine vistas to low deserts, he said.

“It’s all gorgeous, from start to finish,” Driver said. “That’s the attraction of the race.”

Seventeen people participated in last year’s event. So far, 125 people are signed up for this year’s event and there’s room for more participants.

“Mark has put together a great support system to allow endurance athletes to experience it all at once,” Driver said. “There’s support, so people can keep fueled up along the way, and carry minimal supplies.”

Jensen said he expects to take registrations up until the day of the race. All participants who finish will receive a Kokopelli belt buckle. Those who place first will be recognized at the awards ceremony at the finish line at the former Red Rock Elementary.

Second annual Kokopelli Mountain Bike and Ultra Marathon/Relay Sept. 7 and 8

When: Friday, Sept. 7 and Saturday, Sept. 8

Where: Fruita, Colorado, to Moab on the Kokopelli Trail

Cost: Fees vary on the course and optional shuttle services

Information: Visit www.kokopelli100.com or call 801-516-1576