Justin and Malachi Ricks turned the final corner of the Summer Roundup 10K trail run parallel to each other.
Nearing the finish line, 39-year-old Justin slowed down just enough to let his 17-year-old son earn first place in the 10K race with a time of 49:49.
“He let me get first,” Malachi said, laughing. “He could’ve left me behind there if he wanted.”
Justin and Malachi didn’t depart from the finish line to celebrate on their own. Instead, they turned around to watch 16-year-old Kylah Ricks complete the race just less than seven minutes later as the top female in the 10K event.
The Ricks family, from Moab, Utah, took over the Summer Roundup on Sunday morning at Cheyenne Mountain State Park in Colorado Springs.
“We’re a family of runners, and we’ve been doing it forever,” Justin said. “We run every day together as a family. It’s just a fun activity for us, and it’s good for bonding.”
Malachi and Kylah set records for their age group. Justin finished in second place overall and set a new mark for his age group, as well.
“It was nice to see those numbers,” Kylah said. “Running gives me such a good opportunity to hang out with my family.”
There was also Denise Ricks, 39-year-old wife and mother. She ran the Summer Roundup half marathon, finishing in 2:23:26. As expected, her family cheered her on near the conclusion of the race.
“I heard down the trail that the kids won, so it was motivating for me,” Denise said. “They ran so well, and I didn’t want to embarrass them.
“It was exciting to get all their high fives.”
Going beyond the path
The Ricks family does more than just run the trails. They operate Mad Moose Events, a company that provides premier running events in Utah and Colorado. The race lengths range from 3.1 to 50 miles.
Justin and Denise began Mad Moose Events six years ago, and the kids were still young at the time. Now that they are older, Malachi and Kylah have become business partners while attending Grand County High School in Moab.
“They run the entire marketing side of our business,” Denise said of her children. “Teenagers advertising on social media isn’t a bad way to go.”
Even though Moab, Utah, is well over 400 miles from Colorado Springs, the Ricks family continuously returns due to having extended family in the area. Justin grew up in Colorado Springs and attended Wasson High School, which has been closed since 2013. Denise grew up in Pueblo.
Since Justin and Denise are forever tied to their childhood along I-25, they make it a point to return for family, running and hosting races.
“To be an avid runner who hosts events, you have an opportunity to put on epic races because you know what runners want,” Denise said. “You know what challenges them, so it’s a great advantage for us.”
Because the Ricks family was already in town preparing to host the Classic 10K on July 20, the four of them decided to partake in the Summer Roundup. They signed up just last Tuesday.
The Classic 10K is a point-to-point course that follows the Pikes Peak Greenway trail through the heart of Colorado Springs. Hosting next weekend’s race gave everyone a perfect opportunity to visit extended family and run at Cheyenne Mountain State Park.
“We’re always competing,” Justin said. “We’re doing it for the greater of all of us. Even though we’re competing and may talk some trash, it’s all in fun.”
Denise decided to run the half marathon rather than the 10K with the rest of her family because she’s been working to intensify her training in recent years. While Justin, Malachi and Kylah are all capable of cruising through 13.1 miles, Denise has only recently returned her full-time focus to running.
Beforehand, it was all about being a mother.
“I grew up running, but I just raised my kids and didn’t train as much,” she said. “Now that they’re old enough and responsible, I can be a runner again. I just get to be more serious about it.”
Every day, regardless of where they are at, the Ricks family finds a way to get outside and run.
Not as individuals, but as a team bound by the desire to continue putting one foot in front of the other.
“It makes it a lot easier to run when it’s not just me,” Malachi said. “There are three other people motivating me to get up in the morning, lace up my shoes and go running.
“We just push each other.”