Rim Rock Marathon organizers making sure everything is ready

A pack of runners crest the long climb from the east entrance of Colorado National Monument during last year’s Rim Rock Marathon. This year’s race begins Saturday at 8 a.m.

Now in its third year, the Rim Rock Marathon doesn’t exactly run itself, but all of the pieces are in place.

Last-minute details pop up, just like race-day entrants, but at 8 a.m. Saturday, rain, snow or shine, more than 200 runners will race up and over Colorado National Monument.

The field is only about half full, with 215 registered as of Wednesday afternoon. The National Park Service caps the race at 400.

“For us, I would like to see the numbers a little bit higher,” said race organizer Amy Reed of Ascent Productions. “But with the economy the way it is ... I like to term this marathon a ‘boutique marathon.’ Even if we were at 400 or 200, it’s a small marathon the way marathons go these days.”

It’s the 19th running of the monument, which became a full marathon in 2009. Before that, the Rim Rock Run was a 37-kilometer race that started at the east entrance and ran to the West entrance of the monument.

The marathon starting line is at the Colorado Gem & Minerals Club, 2328 Monument Road. From there, the runners will enter Colorado National Monument through the east portal and start the climb.

The first male and female to reach Cold Shivers Point win a $100 preem award, as long as they finish the marathon.

Traffic on the monument will be one-way from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., from the west (Fruita) entrance to the East (Grand Junction) entrance.

The runners must stay in the westbound lane.

As the runners progress along the route, Rim Rock Drive will re-open to two-way traffic in stages. Westbound access to Glade Park will be the first to open at approximately 9:30 a.m.

The speed limit during the race is 25 mph and no passing is allowed.

Spectators are allowed on the course but need to be in place before the start of the race. Anyone leaving the monument before Rim Rock Drive is reopened to two-way traffic (approximately 1 p.m.) must exit through the east entrance (Grand Junction); vehicles cannot follow the runners to the finish line.

The race ends at James M. Robb Colorado River State Park in Fruita, once the runners have climbed 2,179 feet in elevation to 6,639 feet.

At mile 14, the runners start the descent, which most say is worse than the climb. The elevation loss on the route is 2,517 feet.

Along the way, 10 rest stops supply water, electrolyte replacement fluids, snacks and fruit.

As of Wednesday afternoon, neither the 2010 men’s winner, Dustin Simoens, nor the women’s winner, Keri Nelson, had entered.

Nelson is notorious for entering late, and Reed said several runners wait until the last minute to see what kind of weather is forecast.

The forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of showers as the day progresses, but a high of 52 degrees.

“It’s getting better,” Reed said.

Simoens finished the course in 2 hours, 44.28 minutes last year, with Nelson second overall in 3:09.24.

The event benefits Colorado Discover Ability.

A popular aspect of the race is the relay event, with 10 two-person teams sharing the load. The lead runner meets his or her teammate at the Liberty Cap rest stop.

The majority of the runners (193 of the first 215) are from Colorado, but two have entered from Vermont and one from Ontario, Canada.

“I think it’s good,” Reed said. “We’ve got some of the new names coming in, that tells me word is getting out about the marathon and it’s generating interest.”

She and her husband, Chris, team up to run Ascent Productions, and were spending the week finishing all those last-minute details. And although their “boutique” marathon is well organized, there’s always “did we forget anything?” in the back of their minds.

“There’s always a sense of relief once the start gun goes off and they’re on their way,” Amy Reed said.


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