Tips on How to Prepare for the Moab Red Hot Ultra 33k and 55k

The Moab Red Hot will be in a couple weeks! We’re gearing up and getting ready for the big day. If you’re going to being running, or happen to be thinking about running the Moab Red Hot this year on February 18, 2017, this post is for you.

If this is your first time or even your fifth time, we’ve compiled some great tips from past Red Hot Runners who ran the course and wrote some excellent blogs on the experience. We wanted to share them with you in preparation for race day.

Be Prepared for the Weather in Utah

Hopefully, you’ve got enough trail experience that you know this course will be different because of the slick rock that covers Moab. However, you should also be prepared for snow or rain. Utah gets a lot of snow in February, and depending on how the weather has been that year, there may be a lot or a little snow on the course. If snow has melted, you can expect some mud.

Derek Griffith, author at Colorado Runner, has rin in Moab before. He mentions in an article about a past Moab race: “…traction was certainly a battle in the snow. However, it helped keep everyone on course as slower runners followed the frontrunners’ footprints.”

Some years it’s cold and windy, and it’s important for runners and spectators to have jackets. Some years, it’s great weather, like Bryon Powell, author at, had during his Red Hot: “To begin, the weather for this year’s Red Hot Moab races was simply spectacular. Near freezing temps quickly rose into the low fifties in windless conditions under bluebird skies.”

That’s part of what makes this course so fun and challenging. Trail runners will love the different types of terrains that make up the course, with a chance of rain or snow. This race is one that’s full of amazing views no matter what the weather is like. Just make sure to pack your best shoes and jackets for rainy, cold weather. The average in February is around 50 degrees, with lows in the 20s in the winter. It will be a little chilly!

Be Aware of Higher Elevations in Moab

Moab, Utah is just over 4,000 ft. above sea level and this can be an extra challenge for some runners. Running at high altitudes means less oxygen will be getting to your muscles, and while high altitude training is excellent training for any athlete, it might make this race harder if you’re not used to it.

Harrison Fluman, ultrarunner and author at Trail Manners, ran the Red Hot last year and had this to say about the elevation: “While this isn’t considered much elevation for those living in the area, those coming from out of state may feel it.”

If you are flying into Utah to run this race, one way to prep for an altitude change like this is to arrive a few days early and give your body time to adapt. Your body won’t be where it was at sea level, but it will at least feel better while running.

Get Ready for a lot of Hill Climbing and Technical Downhill Running

We’ve mentioned the slickrock that covers most of the course, but we thought it was also important to mention the uphills and downhills that cover the course. Right from the start, your quads will be feeling it, and the technical terrain makes the downhills tricky. You will have a lot of fun jumping off boulders and running along cliffs.

Pete Stevenson, who’s run the Red Hot twice now, talks about the hills on his blog K9Runner: “Mile 13 through 18 is usually a really nice stretch of jeep road with a gradual downhill drop where you can really haul ass, stretch the legs out, and recharge before the next challenging section of slickrock.”

The best advice we can give for those hills is to mentally prepare. You’ve been training already, but it’s also important to mentally train. Hills can be daunting, so taking confident strides and rewarding yourself for conquering those hills will help.

Katie Benzel, an author at Pikes Peak Sports, ran the Red Hot as her first ultra in 2015 and had this to say about the hills: “I definitely lost speed on these long stretches of painful running. There were also some pretty large climbs to conquer. I just tried to stay focused and keep moving as best as I could.”

And that’s exactly what you should do. Also, know that the aid stations will have lots of good nutrition options for you to fuel up on when you hit the next one. Remember: Mind over matter.

Don’t Forget to Enjoy the Race

Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the race preparation and get too focused on the goal without enjoying the journey. We hope you also remember to enjoy the race because we love trail running and ultrarunning, and we want our Red Hot runners to have the best race.

Past Red Hot runner Sonja Wieck’s of, had exactly the kind of race we work hard to put on every year: “The aid stations were great, finish line food was the bomb, and the awards were some of the best I have ever seen. This race would sell out for the scenery alone, but the race direction throws it over the top.”

We’ll be bringing another great this year. Hope to see you there. Contact us if you have any questions or want to hear more about the Red Hot!