Go the distance: Rim Rock grows into marathon

Keri Nelson is looking forward to the challenge an additional 3.6 miles will bring.

The 28-year-old Gunnison woman is excited about the Rim Rock Marathon, which begins Saturday at 8 a.m.

The marathon replaces the Rim Rock Run, which Nelson has won the past three years.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Nelson said. “From what I’ve heard and people I’ve talked to, there are some advantages to it. You have a warm-up before the big climb. It’s nice to have a park to finish at.”

The marathon starts at 2328 Monument Road, just east of South Camp Road, and will finish at James M. Robb State Park.

“As far as a road marathon, it’s one of the more challenging ones,” Nelson said. “It’s more so for me coming down. The road beats you up. At least for me, that’s where I get sore. You can really fly down it.”

There are 230 runners registered for the event, up from last year’s total, race director Chris Reed said.

Reed and his wife, Amy, who own Ascent Productions, Inc., took over the event after Kelli Kessell stepped down as the race director. The Reeds are event producers, coordinating events such as the Western Colorado Triathlon and the Palisade Peach Fest 5-miler.

“We saw a need for change in management,” Reed said. “We didn’t want to see it go away. We had a lot of requests for it to be a marathon, so we ran with it.”

They changed the 16-year, 22.6-mile Rim Rock Run into a 26.2-mile marathon.

“There are some old-school runners in the valley that are a little blown back changing it to a marathon,” Reed said. “People kept asking why it’s not a marathon.

“Being event producers, we thought a marathon would be fantastic.”

The race features a 2,100-foot climb and a 2,400-foot descent.

The race is drawing people from across the country, as far as Florida and Washington, D.C.

“This is hands down, one of the top five most scenic marathons in the country,” Reed said.

Reed said a $100 cash prize will be awarded to the first runner that reaches Cold Shivers Point and finishes the race.

The Mesa Monument Striders running club is working the aid station at Cold Shivers Point.

The race benefits the Girls on the Run local chapter and the Junior Rangers Program at Colorado National Monument.

A timing chip system will be used for the event for the first time. Each runner will wear a chip strapped to his or her ankle that will record when he or she crosses the finish line.

Nelson will be able to identify with the runners from other parts of the country who aren’t used to altitude runs.

“I spent the fall in New Hampshire, so this could be interesting,” Nelson said. “I’ve been running, but coming up from sea level, it might be a challenge. This is one of my favorite runs. It’s one I want do every year.”


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