Moab Trail Marathon Makes for a Rough but Rewarding National Championship - Page 2
Photo by Chris Hunter
The female champion, Kerri Lyons, a 24-year-old road racer from Salt Lake City, Utah, who runs a 35-minute 10K, finished in 3:27:46, in what was only her third-ever trail race. She was followed five minutes later by Kimmel, and five minutes after that by Michelle Suszek, 30, of Littleton, Colorado. A $2100 cash purse was split between the top-five male and female finishers.
The course was mapped by world-class local runner, Danelle Ballengee. The 41-year-old recent inductee into the Colorado Running Hall of Fame has claimed four Pikes Peak Marathon wins, three Primal Quest adventure race victories, and six “U.S. Athlete of the Year” wins. A course created by Ballengee was sure to be demanding.
The Moab Times Independent noted that the route passed the location of Ballengee’s renowned accident in 2006. In that incident, Ballengee survived a 60-foot fall and two dangerously cold nights with an array of shattered bones; she was rescued by the worry of a self-titled nosy neighbor who reported her missing, and the heroic efforts of her dog, Taz, who sought out and brought emergency personnel to her remote location. The race’s proceeds benefit the Project Athena Foundation, the nonprofit brainchild of endurance racer Robyn Benincasa, born in 2009 out of her own trials coping with and recovering from severe osteoarthritis and numerous resulting hip surgeries. The organization provides scholarship sponsorship to women returning to adventurous activities after suffering setbacks.
A trial of more than miles alone, the Moab Trail Marathon offered an organized and exciting championship with a backdrop as stunning as it was technical. “The desert is aesthetically different from the mountains and so beautiful,” says Kimmel. “The temperatures and weather [there] in early November there would be hard to beat anywhere.”