Sara Petrick of Tampa clocked one hour, 26 minutes, 39 seconds to win by almost six minutes, averaging 6:36 per mile over the 13.1-mile course.
However, Moab resident Lauren Atkinson beat her previous best time by five minutes to take second place among the 636 finishers with a time of 1:32:26.
Atkinson, 31, said she surprised herself with the performance, which she attributed to a stepped-up training regimen during the past three months. She battled a headwind during the second half of the out-and-back course but still averaged to run 7:03 miles.
Petrick was relatively nonchalant about her victory.
“I went out for a tempo run,” said the 26-year-old winner, adding she wasn’t trying to set a personal best.
Petrick called her home in Florida “pancake flat” and said the flat Thelma and Louise course that started and ended at Gold Bar Campground was to her liking. She recalled hearing drummers along the race course, saying, “You could hear the sounds reverberating off the canyon walls for two miles.”
Petrick, who runs with men to help force her training pace, said she hopes to try out for the U.S. Olympic team in the marathon. Her sister and mother joined her for a vacation in Moab that was timed specifically to run the half-marathon.
Moab had other finishers in the top 100, too. Sarah Labrec crossed the finish line in 1:56:17 for 66th place and Shelley Kasprick was 67th with a time of 1:56:39. Moab’s Emily Klarer also got in under the two-hour mark, finishing 76th in 1:58:07.
The race began at 6:30 a.m. so runners could avoid the heat of the day. While those in the front of the pack were serious about their times, many of the participants were just as interested in having fun.
Several women wore bright tutus, and 40-year-old Marti Young of Seattle held a toy pistol above her head as she completed the race – a salute to the theme of the “Thelma and Louise” motion picture.
Like other runners, Michelle Ruyle of Telluride, Colo., said the headwind she battled during the second half of the race was a challenge.
“But the wind cooled me off,” she said. “That was the upside. It was a beautiful race.”
Most finishers wanted water as soon as they crossed the finish line. There was much tastier fare just a few yards away. Racers were given sliced watermelon, oranges, grapes, brownies, yogurt, ice cream bars, potato chips and Hershey’s Kisses. Each finisher age 21 and older also received two cans of beer from Moab Brewery, if they wanted beer in the morning.
For those participating in their first half-marathon in Moab, the spread of food and drinks was a big surprise.
“Beer and potato chips,” exclaimed Klover Wells of Grand Junction, Colo., still wearing her pink race tutu. “It feels sinful.”
Proceeds from the race benefitted two nonprofit organizations – Seekhaven and Girls on the Run. Seekhaven provides shelter and resources for families in crisis and victims of violence. The nationwide Girls on the Run program is for those in grades three through eight, and teaches them positive life lessons.