Rim Rock Marathon allows runners chance to face ‘heck of a climb’

All marathons are unique in the course, the challenge and the views.

But few rival this weekend’s Rim Rock Marathon for views and elevation climb and descent.

The 26.2-mile race begins at the Gem and Mineral Club on Monument Road and takes runners up and over Colorado National Monument, ending at the James M. Robb Colorado River State Park in Fruita.

The race begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, and there will be event-day registration from 6-6:30 a.m. Cost is $72, and that includes a T-shirt.

This year, the race is once again being organized by the Mesa Monument Striders after a private organizer handled the race for several years.

Dan Thomas is a member of the Striders and is heading the organizing effort for this year’s race. He’s anticipating more than 150 runners for the race. That is up from last year’s 125.

The uniqueness of the course is what makes it such a popular race, Thomas says.

“I think it’s twofold. Number one, it’s the scenery and number two, it’s a heck of a climb,” he said. “A lot of people think it’s all downhill once you get to the top, but that downhill kills your knees and quads, too.”

The Striders have partnered with Colorado Mesa University to help with the race, and proceeds from the race will go to the CMU track and field and cross country teams.

The race first started back in 1993, it but didn’t become a full marathon until 2009.

Organizers had an alternative course lined up in case the federal government shutdown was still in place.

Another unique aspect for runners, Thomas said, is it’s a rare opportunity to run the Monument, through the tunnels and over the top.

Runners from around the region and from states including Utah, Arizona, Montana and Oregon have registered, according to Thomas.

The race will have runners of all abilities, with some taking more than six hours to complete the challenging course.

Last year’s winner, Gary Krugger of Flagstaff, Ariz., was the only runner to crack the three-hour mark at 2:56.31.

Christy McLaughlin of Evergreen won last year’s women’s race in 3:28.23.

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