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Southern Utah Train Run; Adam Rue Photo

Featured Article

Power Couple

Adam and Colleen Rue provide the "engine" for worldwide races

Article by Marianne Hamilton

Photography by Adam and Colleen Rue; Asher Swan

Originally published in St George City Lifestyle

Adam Rue remembers precisely when his career as a race announcer came to an end. The owner of Festival Sounds, which provides DJs and sound services for weddings, athletic competitions and other events, Adam was welcoming athletes—including Colleen, his wife—across the finish line at the 2015 Lake Powell Half Marathon.

Then Adam was tapped to present awards, and spontaneously handed the mic off to his spouse. Colleen accepted the challenge—and crushed it. 

“And that was the day that I happily lost my job as a race announcer,” Adam recalls, laughing.

Admittedly, Colleen wasn’t exactly a neophyte: Before then, she’d logged almost a year on morning radio in St. George. But as a paralegal turned fitness instructor/coach, she lacked any formal training as “talent.” What Colleen and her mate did not lack was an impressive athletic resume.

After graduation from Cedar High School in 1996, she began teaching fitness classes. Competitive athletics soon followed: She completed her first triathlon at the 1999 Utah Summer Games and her first marathon two years later. A three-time Boston Marathoner, she’s lost count of the number of marathon, half marathon and triathlon finisher’s medals she’s earned.

Inevitably, IRONMAN® became a goal, one Colleen realized when she was the first “local female” to cross the finish line of the St. George edition in 2012.

“I’d become pretty serious about training by that time; I got a coach and worked really hard, and just loved it,” Colleen says. 

A cross-country and track athlete in high school, Adam shared Colleen’s passion for running. But he admits that he lacks the Type-A gene embedded deeply in his wife’s DNA.

“I could care less how I do in a race; I’m out there for the views, the social connection, and the fun,” says Adam, a veteran of six St. George Marathons and several other long-distance adventures. “Sure, I want to turn in a decent time. But mostly I’m just out there to have fun.”

Such an attitude became a crucial learning experience. Always motivated to be a “front of the packer,” she was devastated to turn in a much slower than expected performance at the 2012 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas, where 100-plus-degree temperatures scorched the athletes. Depression gripped her for nearly two weeks. Then Adam shared his perspective.

“I told her that none of us cared about her time or had any idea she was so upset. We all just thought she was amazing as always.”

His insights marked a significant turning point, Colleen says. “I started to realize that my competitiveness just wasn’t worth it anymore: The pressure to perform, to go faster, was taking the joy out of the sport for me.” 

Accordingly, she relinquished her next IRONMAN berth—and on a whim, joined a friend on a trail run. The combination of spectacular views, relative solitude, and most importantly, no performance expectations, was a balm to her psyche.

“No one was asking how fast my transition was, or why this swim wasn’t as good as the last one,” she notes, grinning. “It really healed my soul.”

Then again, Colleen’s relaxing runs eventually morphed into such contests as the 2014 Zion 50K and other trail ultramarathons. On her 40th birthday, she completed the TransRockies Run, a six-day, 120-mile event with 20,000 feet of elevation gain. In 2022, Adam joined Colleen in doing a 50K “training run” at Moab’s Arches Ultramarathon, and then on her second TransRockies outing.

Today, Colleen and Adam are a reliable presence at many competitions put on by the City of St. George, with Adam providing sound support, and Colleen cheering athletes over the finish line. She’s logged over a decade in a similar role with Vacation Races, which stages competitions in worldwide destinations. Most recently, she became “the voice of the mountain” for Atlanta-based 29029 Everesting. Their events give participants 36 hours to climb to the top of a mountain, take a gondola back to the bottom and climb again, completing the number of ascents needed to equal the vertical gain of Mount Everest, 29,029 feet.

In 2023, Adam “everested” at 29029 in Stratton, Vermont. With non-stop rain transforming the mountain into sludge—yet his wife standing steadfast in the downpour with her microphone for most of the 36 hours—he achieved his goal.

“I could go inside and take a break, get dried off and eat. Except for a few hours of sleep, Colleen was out there the entire time,” he marvels.

Though the pair still train year-round, their focus has shifted dramatically. In October 2023, Colleen completed the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., pushing the wheelchair of a disabled adult. Both “pushed” in a half marathon in Atlanta, and plan to do the same as often as their schedules allow. Colleen believes she and her mate have now found their raison d’etre. 

“I feel like we’re redefining what success looks like for us,” she says. “It’s not how fast you were in a race. It’s ‘did you push yourself, and do something you didn’t think you could do? Then let’s celebrate that!’ Being able to share that with other people is what lights me up now.”

Nodding at his bride of nearly 20 years, Adam concludes: “I feel like you’ve made me a better, more competitive runner…and I’ve helped you slow down, stop and smell the roses.”

Contact Festival Sounds at Find Colleen @voiceofthemountain on Instagram.

I’m out there for the views, the social connection, and the fun.”  ‒ Adam Rue

“It’s not how fast you were in a race. It’s ‘did you push yourself, and do something you didn’t think you could do?"  ‒ Colleen Rue

  • Asher Swan Photo
  • Asher Swan Photo
  • Ironman St. George Finish Line; Adam Rue Photo
  • Zion Trail Run; Adam Rue Photo
  • Boston Marathon; Adam Rue Photo
  • Los Angeles Marathon; Adam Rue Photo
  • Southern Utah Train Run; Adam Rue Photo
  • Grand Teton Trail Run 2023; Colleen Rue Photo
  • Yosemite Train Run 2021; Colleen Rue Photo
  • Saguaro Half Marathon Finish Line in Tucson; Adam Rue Photo
  • Marine Corps Marathon pushing for Kyle Pease Foundation; Marine Corps Marathon Photo