Thelma and Louise half marathon draws more than 600 runners
by Mary Rice
Contributing Writer
Jun 12, 2014 | 468 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Runners fill the roadway of state Route 279 along the Colorado River during the third-annual Thelma and Louise Half Marathon on Saturday, June 7. This year, more than 600 women competed in the event, according to race organizers. Photo courtesy of Canyonlands Half Marathon
Runners fill the roadway of state Route 279 along the Colorado River during the third-annual Thelma and Louise Half Marathon on Saturday, June 7. This year, more than 600 women competed in the event, according to race organizers. Photo courtesy of Canyonlands Half Marathon
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On Saturday, June 7, more than 600 runners gathered at the Gold Bar campground at 6:30 a.m. to participate in Moab’s third-annual Thelma and Louise Half Marathon.

Sarah Peterson, of Belle Mead, New Jersey, was the first to cross the finish line, recording a time of 1 hour, 27.30 minutes, and averaging a pace of 6:40 per mile. Moab’s own Lauren Atkinson finished in second place with a time of 1:34:04 and a mile pace of 7:10.

The course started and finished at Gold Bar on state Route 279 west of Moab, near where the final scene of the movie “Thelma and Louise” was filmed. Along the course, race organizers recreated scenes from the movie, including appearances from Thelma and Louise, an inaugural “Brad Pitt Stop,” and the Rastafarian road biker. A 1966 convertible similar to the car driven by Thelma and Louis in the film also made an appearance. Many runners dressed up for the occasion, wearing cowgirl hats or bandanas reminiscent of costumes worn in the film.

Taiko drummers from the Moab Taiko Dan were stationed along the course to provide support and enthusiasm, and the sounds of drumming echoing off the canyon walls could be heard for miles.

This year, the race also featured a relay category, in which each member of a team of two runners ran 6.55 miles of the 13.1 mile course. A total of 32 teams signed up for the inaugural event. Team Carpenter-Pease, of Grand Junction, Colorado, finished in first place with a total time of 1:44:44. Moab runners were also top competitors, with relay teams placing fourth, ninth and 10th. Shuttle boats provided by Canyonlands By Night carried the second-leg relay runners to the turnaround point, and took the first-leg runners back to the finish once they had completed their section of the race.

“We’d been wanting to do the relay for a long time,” said race director Ranna Bieschke, “but we were uncertain about the logistics of it. Eventually, we decided that the only way to get the runners down [to the turnaround point] would be by boat. We actually heard about it the first year – a lot of women wanted to run the race, but weren’t up for 13 miles. So we looked at this race and thought, ‘what a perfect relay – Thelma and Louise!’”

Bieschke said the race organization has received “very positive” feedback on both the relay and the half marathon this year, with many runners indicating that they would love to return to run the relay again.

Proceeds from the Moab Half Marathon’s Thelma and Louise event benefit Seekhaven Family Resource Center and the local chapter of Girls on the Run. Girls on the Run is a nationwide organization dedicated to teaching girls about fitness, self-esteem, community service, and healthy friendships. Like the Thelma and Louise Half Marathon, the Moab chapter of Girls on the Run is in its third year. Seekhaven works to build safe and healthy communities by offering shelter and resources to victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, and families in crisis. The organization also sponsors many community outreach programs for youth and community members to help spread awareness.

Bieschke said Saturday that the total amount of money raised by the race for the charities was not yet tallied, as funds from online registrations were still being processed. But she said she is optimistic about this year’s fundraising efforts.

“Overall, we were hugely successful,” Bieschke said, “Our women had a great time, our volunteers had a great time, and our volunteers were just great, like they always are. I think it was a great event and we’re looking forward to another great year.”

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