Run or Race the National Parks – Moab, Canyonlands & Arches with Denise & Justin Ricks

Justin and Denise Ricks, owners and founders of Mad Moose Events, join us on this episode of Run To The Top. If you’ve ever wanted to visit Moab and Canyonlands National Parks, Red Rocks in Utah or Colorado Springs, you might as well race there, too.

Run the National Parks Moab RTTT (1)

Running and racing on roads and trails in all the seasons

Justin and Denise share the history, geology, topography and the incredible routes to run in their home area of Moab, Utah which is also home to two incredible National Parks: Canyonlands and Arches, plus nearby Bears Ears National Monument.

Having met running cross country at University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, they enjoyed running and outdoors together. They took a break from running after they got married to start a family but  Justin re-connected with running to be the 2011 winner of the Eugene Marathon at 2:22. Justin has placed in several national events including the 2017 100km Trail National Championships.

From four to seventeen events in just four years

Just four short years ago, the family company called Mad Moose Events only had 4 small races: 1 in Moab and 3 in Colorado Springs. Now they have 17 events scheduled in Utah and Colorado throughout the year.

Tune in to learn more about all these different races, distances and terrain as well as logistical tips for getting, staying and enjoying this incredibly beautiful and unique natural area.

Questions Justin and Denise are asked:

1:40 First Four:

  1. How old are you?
  2. Where were you born?
  3. Where do you live now?
  4. What is your favorite race distance or type of race?

6:05 Why would people want to visit Moab, the Canyonlands and surrounding areas?

8:42 What brought you to Moab originally?

9:41 What are some fun runs and hikes people can do if they visit?

12:23 What sorts of climbing is available there?

12:53 Are there technical routes or just steep hiking trails?

14:36 What is the Topography and history of the area?

15:39 What is it like if people want to stay there?

18:27 What made you choose the races Mad Moose Events offers and what are they like?

20:57 What are a couple easy and a couple difficult racing events you offer?

23:37 Which races are on roads?

25:42 Are any of your races certified for Boston qualifying?

26:09 What is your Thelma & Louise race?

27:24 Can men run in the Thelma & Louise race?

27:43 Where is that course located?

28:17 Is it paved or trail?

29:39 Do you allow walking?

29:52 How do people actually get there and what are some other logistical tips do you have?

32:05 Would you recommend having or renting a car when visiting?

32:41 What would be an ideal amount of time to stay in that area to get the most out of it?

33:41 Do you have other jobs or are you full-time race directors?

34:29 Do you utilize volunteers?

36:08 How many volunteers do you need for the Canyonlands Half?

36:54 What are some of the challenges of being race directors?

40:14 What are some of the rewards of being race directors?

42:08 Do you have time for your own running?

43:22 How has running changed or impacted your lives?

32:40 Final Kick Round:

  1. What is your favorite local training run (location, starting point, parking, distance, terrain and safety issues)?
  2. Favorite running book(s)?
  3. Words of Wisdom or Humor?
  4. Who or what would you like to have featured on the Run To The Top podcast?

Quotes by Justin and Denise:

“I really love the running community and I just think that they’re super supportive and fun to be around. They’re just our kind people so just having the chance to spend so much time in that community has been an extreme positive for my and our children.”

“I used to be a teacher before I started race directing and sometimes I think it’s kinda the same thing. You spend a lot of time answering questions.”

“I had to move here to be able to explore it all.”

“The best part is just the accessibility with all the different distances and terrain that we cover.”

“The reason why we started the races that we did start, and acquired the events that we did acquire, was because we really enjoyed the trails and the course that we designed.”

“There’s something about being here and just feeling the atmosphere that the geological formations bring to the area. It’s just something really special”

Take a Listen on Your Next Run

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Mentioned in this podcast:

Run To The Top Winners Circle Facebook Community

RunnersConnect Facebook page

The Hidden Valley Trail – Moab

Amasa Back Trail System

Book: Daniels’ Running Formula-3rd Edition

Book: Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek

Steve Prefontaine quotes

Follow Mad Moose Events on:

Mad Moose Events homepage




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