Best Trail Festival– Runner’s World Magazine
One of the world’s most scenic half marathons– Active
“This was my first ultra and I was very impressed with the course, organization and event staff.”
“I have [already recommended this race], did by myself the first year, had group of 8 this year!”
“This was the first trail-running half marathon for which I’d signed up and I loved my experience. I plan to do the full marathon next year.”
“Scenery is amazing and it’s a great way to celebrate spring and running season.”
A weekend of fun and running on the beautiful trails near Fruita, Colorado. The weekend kicks off on Friday night with packet pickup and a pasta dinner. Saturday is the trail marathon and 50K, followed that night with a racer party at a local brewery. Sunday’s events include a 10K, half marathon, Easter egg hunt, kid’s races, and a pancake brunch. Sunday’s races did sell out in 2016, so get in early.
Friday night’s pasta dinner will run from 7:00-8:00pm at a location TBD. The cost is $12 with early registration and $15 after April 1st. Family and friends are welcome at the same price. There will be a limited number of dinners available to purchase on the night of the event so reserve your meal early.
Bring the whole family! This year’s Sunday events will include an Easter Egg Hunt and Kid’s Races at the start/finish area.
The racer party for all racers and the awards ceremony for the Marathon and 50K races will be at 6:30 pm on Saturday at a location TBD. There will be wings and beer! Don’t miss the opportunity to socialize with other racers and win raffle prizes. There will be a $100 cash prize for the women’s and men’s overall winners of the 50K. There will also be $100 cash premiums in the first 2 miles of both days for men and women.
Customized cowbell awards will be given to the top three male and female finishers in each race in each of the following age groups:
60 and over
Racers will receive customized dog tag finisher’s awards as they cross the finish line. Placer’s awards will be distributed at the awards ceremony Saturday night. Awards and mementos will not be mailed after the event.
Start/Finish Area and Parking
The Start/Finish lines will be at the Mack trailhead on the Kokopelli trail just west of Fruita, Colorado, at exit #11 off I-70. The start time for the 50K and Marathon races is Saturday at 7:00 a.m. and the start on Sunday will be at 8:30 am for the half marathon and 10K mile races. Parking will be very limited and car pooling is strongly recommended. We may need to divert some traffic to an alternate parking lot—please plan to arrive at least one hour prior to your start time to allow time for this, if required. Your race number and packet will also be available at the Start/Finish line beginning at 5:30 a.m. on race day Saturday and 7:00 am on race day Sunday. Sunday’s racers can pick up their packets at Friday night, Saturday morning or Sunday morning packet pick-ups. Packets will not be available after race start on Saturday or Saturday night.
This year’s host hotel is TBD.
Weather on the Kokopelli can vary. The averages for April are a low of 35 & a high of 66 degrees.
There will be radio contact available, all necessary materials to nurse any bumps, cuts, bruises, or blisters, a medical tent, and medics. In addition, a certified Emergency Medical Technician will be in attendance. Aid stations will NOT have aspiring, ibuprofen or other NSAIDs.
Federal, State, and County laws and ordinances must be followed at all times.
Staying on Course
Racers must stay on the designated course. Any racer that goes off the designated course (i.e. shortcutting) will result in a disqualification.
In the case of unforeseeable circumstances due to weather or other extenuating circumstances that prevents the safe continuation of the race, race officials may end the race at any given time. This rule will be implemented in the most extreme cases for the safety of the runners or officials.
The Marathon will be a single loop connecting the desert trails of the Kokopelli and adjacent trails. 50K runners will do an additional 4.6 mile loop beginning at the Moore Fun aid station allowing runners to hit this aid station twice. The courses roll between elevations of 4,500 and 5,400 feet with over 3,400 feet of climbing.
Start: A nice warm up takes runners out one mile of gently rolling dirt road. A .3 mile uphill brings racers to an open area where there will be a water drop and a course official will be waiting with a $100 cash premium for the first male and the first female to reach this point. A sharp left turn puts runners on the first single track of the day. Once on this section, it will be difficult to pass so find your place before your reach this section. Large rocks and twists bring you to a high point where you will stay close to the edge and enjoy beautiful views before the rugged descent down the other side.
50K Out and Back: After leaving the aid station, runners will head down the road to Rustler’s Loop. Traveling clockwise around the loop, this soft dirt trail winds its way through gently rolling hills and wide open fields. After completing the loop, the course brings you back to the Moore Fun aid station.
Moore Fun: A short downhill will bring you to a rugged jeep road. It will take you up a gentle climb and descent until it dead ends into the wide, flat and fast section of Mary’s Loop. Head right on Mary’s Loop, going through some fun technical terrain with amazing views of the Colorado River, to reach the Pizza Overlook aid station.
Pizza Overlook: Upon leaving the aid station, you will immediately begin descending quickly. A narrow trail and big drop offs will eventually open up as you begin following the rim in and out of the canyons. On an incredibly picturesque course, this section is generally considered the most beautiful.
Crossroads: After a short climb, the course passes some intersecting trails and makes a couple of sharp turns (be sure to pay attention to the course markings). This will lead to the undulating, remote section of the Troybuilt Trail. This is the longest section between aid stations so be sure to carry water with you. A fun descent through a wash will bring you to the aid station.
Troybuilt: Leaving this aid station will put you on the steep, hot climb of the day. Eventually bringing you to Mack Ridge, this section will open up, once again following what some would consider a little too close to the overlook. A steep descent will bring you down to the water drop and back onto the road toward the finish line.
Sunday’s Half Marathon and 10K races start together.
Start: Runners head out the gently rolling dirt road for a mile until they take a sharp right turn for .3 miles to the top of the hill. From there, the first aid station is visible and racers cross the cattle guard, staying on the road, and head down the steep hill to the Crossroads aid station.
Crossroads #1: Both distances will head out from the aid station and head down the steep, rocky gully for a short distance until it flattens out but continues twisting and turning. Runners will reach a “T” in the road where they take a left hand turn.
Runners will follow along the beautiful rim for a short time before they head up the steep ledgy section to the Pizza Overlook aid station.
Pizza Overlook (10K): 10K will take a left at the aid station on the rugged jeep road back to the Crossroads aid station #2, back over the cattle guard and to the finish line.
(Half Marathon): Half marathoners will travel on the open rolling section of Mary’s Loop until the hit the Wrangler’s Loop cutoff. They will make a sharp left where some sections will be loose or sandy but overall good footing. A nice decent will bring racers to the Moore Fun aid station.
Moore Fun: The trail becomes rocky and technical as it makes the big climb to the top of this fun section. After it levels off for a short distance, it will make a fun technical decent to the cattleguard and a water drop that you visited on the way out. From there, you will go back the same way you came, down the short steep section to the dirt road and back to the finish.
We will have five aid stations located throughout Saturday’s course, at approximately five-mile intervals (one gap is 7 miles). The 50K will be the marathon course plus an additional loop (six aid stations). The For environmental reasons cups will not be provided at the aid stations. Aid stations will NOT have aspirin, ibuprofen or other NSAIDs.
Saturday Aid Stations: gels, potato chips, peanut butter and jelly rolls, chocolate, bananas, ice water and Tailwind Endurance Fuel hydration.
Sunday Aid Stations: candy, potato chips, gels, ice water and Tailwind Endurance Fuel hydration on Sunday.
(This is the general shape of the profile but has not been updated to reflect trail reroutes. There are approximately 1.5 additional miles spread throughout the course)
The 5 mile course is approximately half dirt road and half technical trail. Both races run out to a beautiful overlook and around scenic canyons. The short course is exactly 5.6 miles and the half marathon course is approximately 13.8 miles.
Half Marathon Profile
5:00-7:00 pm– Race day registration and packet pick up – location TBA
7:00- 8:00 pm– Pasta dinner – Location TBA
8:00-8:30 pm– Optional pre-race meeting
5:30 am– Race day registration and packet pick-up at start line
7:00 am– Marathon/50K race start
5:00 pm– Marathon/50K cut-off
6:30 pm– Awards/raffle prizes/party – Location TBA
7:00 am– 10K/half marathon race day registration and packet pick-up at starting line
8:30 am- 10K/half marathon start
9:30 am – 11:30am Easter Egg Hunt and Kid’s Races (all kids ages 2-10 welcome)
11:30 am– awards/door prizes at starting line
Cost per person:
Early (until January 1st)
10K – $30
Half Marathon – $65
Trail Marathon – $90
50K – $95
Standard (until March 15th)
10K – $40
Half Marathon – $75
Trail marathon – $100
50K – $105
Late (until April 15th)
10K – $50
Half Marathon – $85
Trail Marathon – $110
50K – $115
10K – $60
Half Marathon – $95
Trail Marathon – $120
50K – $125
Pasta dinner fees: $12 early and $15 at the door, if available. (post race party is FREE).
Entry fees include: place winner awards, shirts (or other race memento), aid station goodies, a finisher’s memento and post-race refreshments. Entry fee is non-refundable and nontransferable.
Desert RATS Trail Running Festival Course Records:
2014: Lee Cordova, Denver, CO 4:28:53
2014: Julia Veseth, Lakewood, CO 5:10:31
2010: Pawel Oboz 3:04:35
2009: Anna Pichrtova 3:24:10
Half Marathon Male:
2016: Gordon Gianniny, Gunnison, CO 1:27:27
Half Marathon Female:
2013: Kim Dobson, Grand Junction, CO 1:40:21
Joseph Manila Fasha, Denver, CO 34:36
Lynda Andros, Edwards, CO 44:51