The fourth annual Moab Off-Road Duathlon has a new dimension this spring — an option to make it a triathlon.

On Friday evening, March 1, the Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center is hosting up to 100 swimmers for a 1-kilometer race. Participants may opt to sign up for only the swimming leg of the tri-sport event, or go on to compete in the trail running and biking components of the race over the weekend.

Relay teams or individuals competing in the triathlon or duathlon race will meet at the starting line at the North Klondike Bluffs trails system on Saturday morning, March 2.

The location offers trails along Moab’s characteristic red-rock terrain and views of the Book Cliffs area and Arches National Park.

“A few years ago the Grand County Trail Mix began building superb trails for non-motorized use,” said Danelle Ballangee, the race director, in a recent press release. “They put Moab even higher on the ‘must-go’ destination list for endurance athletes. The Off-Road Duathlon is a match made in heaven for these folks.”

The 8-kilometer running course leads participants through the “Dinosaur Stomping Ground,” a trail know for a concentration of ancient dinosaur tracks, and then back to the start via the Mega-Steps Trail. The 13-kilometer cycling part of the event immediately follows.

Runners will either tag in their relay partner, or if they are competing individually they will transition quickly to their bicycles and head to the DinoFlow single-track trail. The route continues on the Little Salty and Baby Steps trails back to the DinoFlow trail and finish line.

Event organizers said the bike trails are “super-fun singletrack mixed with slickrock, red dirt and scenic views” in a recent press release.

Moab resident Francisco Castillo participated in the duathlon last spring. It was his first duathlon, and he said it was quite challenging.

Castillo compared it to a Tough Mudder event — an obstacle course-style running race — in which he competed.

“The duathlon was harder than the Tough Mudder,” he said, “even though the Mudder was miles of obstacles.”

He noted that the biking portion, in particular, was difficult.

“It’s more technical than you would normally see anywhere else,” he said of the course.

For those who want a more laid-back kind of challenge, there is a shorter course marked out for beginners, children and more casual outdoor athletes. The run is 1 mile and the bike route is 3 miles. Participants in this course will still receive a medal and shirt from the event.

On Sunday morning, March 3, there will be a trail run, following the same course routes as the previous day’s races. An 8-kilometer foot race will trace the steps of Saturday’s runners, while a half-marathon course will combine the previous day’s bike route with the running route. The first 50 trail runners to sign up will also have the option to participate in a fun photo-scavenger hunt, snapping shots of natural items from a list received at the starting line.

Registration is open until Feb. 28 for participants. For those who are ready to get outside, but aren’t quite in shape to compete, there are volunteer opportunities available.

Spring is around the corner, which means that many outdoor athletes and enthusiasts will be hitting the trails to escape the winter lull.

“These scenic and fun races are a great way to start off the season,” Ballangee said.

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