Story by Jason Bryant:

Saturday morning in Moab came crisp and cool.  But with the sun rising over the desert landscape, the temperatures heat up quickly as did the racing at Moab Trail Marathon.  The Moab Trail Marathon was serving as the USA Trail Marathon Championships which attracted a highly competitive field on both the men’s and women’s sides.  Toeing the line were US mountain team members, previous male and female trail/mountain champions, fast roadies(2:14 marathon guy, 35 minute 10K gal), hardened mountain goats, and a Spartan Racing World Champion.  Yes, you could say it was quite the mix of competitors.  Question is how would all that shake out on the trail.  The little bit that heard about race director Danelle Ballengee indicated that she was fairly hardcore.  So you would expect the course to match her persona.  This was no run through the lilies.  This was hardcore trail racing, competitors had better brought some trail skills.  There were few places to set a rhythm and crank.  Slickrock and just general rockiness were the order of the day.  Throw in some sandy sections, squeezing between boulders, and trails along steep drops, this was a trail runner’s playground.  Hopefully, runners got a chance to look up at the beautiful surroundings of canyons and desert.  What more could a trail racer want?

The men’s race got out quickly, but soon settled into the grind this course would require.  The 2012 Spartan Racing World Champion, Cody Moat, sees the trail as a place to just let go.  More accustom to obstacles in his way on race days, he did just that as he rolled over the course ahead of everyone.  Cody claimed the Trail Marathon title in 3:08:26.  Justin Ricks and Jason Bryant started out conservatively hoping the course would reward their patience.  Justin executed this strategy best in taking second in 3:14:39.  Bryant fought off the young speed behind him over the last 6 miles to take third overall in 3:17:06.  A couple of guys with fast road marathons on their resumes rounded out the top five.  Kalib Wilkerson finished fourth in 3:20:22 and Ryan Bak took fifth in 3:22:34.  Bryant was also the first master for the men, followed by Chris Grauch in 3:31:51 and Brad Poppele in 3:45:55.

On the women’s side, it was a loaded field.  Women with impressive resumes filled the entry list.  On the out and back at 10 miles they got a good chance to size one another up as they were all still fairly close together.  Kerri Lyons changed from the half to full marathon just the day before the race.  Lyons may be discovering that she has more than just road speed.  This was just her third trail race, all coming this summer.  A summer that also including a 35 minute 10K and 59 minute 10 miler on the road.  Lyons ran to the women’s trail marathon title in 3:27:46.  Megan Kimmel battled the intense course taking second in 3:32:06 for her third podium finish this year.  Kimmel was runner up at the half marathon distance in June and claimed the national title at the 10Km distance in August.  US mountain team members Michele Suszek and Melody Fairchild took third and fourth in 3:37:10 and 3:43:37 respectively.  Stephanie Howe finished in fifth with a time of 3:44:35.  Kristi Anderson came in first master in 4:08:04.  Shari Marshall and Anita Rawlinson followed in 4:17:48 and 4:54:26.

Complete race results can be found here: http://www.myentryfee.com/results/RaceList.aspx?target=373

Photos by HunterImagery.com