Truly a locals’ road race: Rim Rock Marathon set for Grand Junction Nov. 9 |

Truly a locals’ road race: Rim Rock Marathon set for Grand Junction Nov. 9

Runners from 2010, competing in Grand Junction's Rim Rock Marathon through the Colorado National Monument. This year's event is set for Saturday, Nov. 9, and it starts at 8 a.m.
Submitted by Karah Levely-Rinaldi |


WHAT: Rim Rock Marathon

WHEN: 8 a.m. Sat., Nov. 9

WHERE: Through the Colorado National Monument

COST: $72




Want to join Mesa Monument Striders? Besides organizing the Rim Rock Marathon, this local running group schedules lots of weekly runs that are both for exercise and run. To learn more, visit

Grand Junction resident Karah Levely-Rinaldi wasn’t always a distance runner. But after the birth of her youngest child, she took the plunge for better fitness at age 34.

“My daughter was training for a Girls on the Run 5K, and she was using the ‘Couch to 5K’ plan,” Levely-Rinaldi said. “I used the program, too, for basic fitness, and it turned into something that I really enjoy.”

Now, seven years later, this fit mom has nine marathons under her belt, five of them being Grand Junction’s annual Rim Rock Marathon through the Colorado National Monument. And she’s also an active member of Mesa Monument Striders, a local running club and sponsor of the annual 26.3-mile footrace coming up Saturday, Nov. 9, at 8 a.m.

Approximately 150 runners are expected to run at this year’s event.

“Go for it! Give it a try! It’s not as scary as a lot of people think it is …”
— Kristin Coakley of Grand Junction

“I love this race!” Levely-Rinaldi noted. “It so exceeded my expectations when I ran it for the first time.”

Plus, it feels like home when she takes her place at the starting line.

“I’ve run the Boston Marathon and other bigger ones like that; this one is special to me,” Levely-Rinaldi explained. “It’s nice to see local businesses participating (with support stations), along with the local running club. They’re rooting for you. You don’t get that at a big-city race.”

According to Conrad Cole, an event organizer and member of Mesa Monument Striders, the Rim Rock Marathon “will begin at the Grand Junction Gem and Mineral Club on Monument Road and end at the James M. Robb Colorado River State Park.”

“The race had its beginnings in 1993 when four local Mesa Monument Strider members — Dr. Clarence Craig, Cliff Moore, Gabe DeGabriel and Conrad Cole — got together and formed a committee and staged the first ‘Booth to Booth’ 22.6 mile event,” Cole said in an email.

But it didn’t become a full marathon until 2009, Levely-Rinaldi added.

And though Rim Rock Marathon definitely hosts highly competitive runners from in-state and out, folks from all athletic levels — beginner to expert — are encouraged to participate. Spectators are welcome, too.

“There will be people finishing in two-and-a-half hours or folks taking the entire time limit, 6-7 hours,” Levely-Rinaldi said.

Another Grand Junction runner — 40-year-old Kristin Coakley — will be competing in the Rim Rock Marathon for the first time next week. She’s doing it as part of a two-person relay team, however, where each leg is roughly 13.1 miles.

“My teammate, Angela Johnson, and I had joked that if they brought back the relay this year, she would do the up and I would do the down,” Coakley said. “She’s a lot better running uphill that I am. Last year, they didn’t have the relay available, and there were a lot of people asking for it.”

The Rim Rock Marathon benefits Mesa Monument Striders, as well as Colorado Mesa University’s track & field and cross country teams. Registration for the full marathon costs $70 until Nov. 5 ($60 for Strider members), and that price includes a T-shirt. From Nov. 6 on to race day, registration costs $85 for everyone.

“Go for it! Give it a try!” Coakley said. “It’s not as scary as a lot of people think it is, and the sense of accomplishment at the end is amazing.”

For more course information or to register, visit The relay group is already full, but spaces remain open for the full marathon.

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