Steeplechase, marathon set for August
July 29, 2008
It’s the stuff that legends are made of. The elusive peak looming high above the village beckoning the strong and the swift to conquer it.
In Park City, they call it Jupiter Peak and its challenge is what has attracted runners for the last 15 years, according to Mountain Trails Foundation public relations coordinator Heinrich Deters. With just a little over a week left until the annual Jupiter Peak Steeplechase, he expects many more people to sign up and take on the peak.
"Wanting to run to the top is sort of human nature," he said.
The steeplechase, which will be held Aug. 8 at 8 a.m., is eight miles up and eight miles back down the peak that sits high over Park City Mountain Resort. Luckily, no one is expecting anyone to run straight up the mountain, but a series of switchbacks going up the side of the peak still gives runners a grueling workout. Much of the course will be single track to add to the challenge.
"It’s a pretty simple race," Deters said. "You just run up the hill and run down and you’re done."
Simple maybe, but definitely not easy. Still, many people are already signed up. As one of the long-standing races in the community, there is always a crowd of local racers that sign up year after year, but recent circumstances have made the Jupiter Steeplechase even more popular. For the second year in a row, the race will coincide with the OutdoorRetailer Summer Market in Salt Lake, so many outdoor enthusiasts in town for the conference are likely to participate in the race. This year, the steeplechase will also be one of the races on the LaSportiva Mountain Cup Circuit, a 10-race series made up of challenging runs held all over the country. Deters said that the series promoter competed in the steeplechase last year and decided to add it to his series this year. Deters also expects many of the locals that participate in the Tuesday Night Trail Running Series to take part as well.
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Runners that participate in the Jupiter Steeplechase are eligible for the Triple Trail Challenge. The three trail races include the Steeplechase, the Park City Marathon on Aug. 23 and the Mid Mountain Marathon on Sept. 9. Deters said that the interest in taking on all three races continues to grow each year. The first year, participants are given green jackets for completing the race, but Deters said that the real prize is just completing the challenge.
"Everyone comes in first place because they finished it," Deters said.
Although the Park City Marathon is still a few weeks away, organizers say that the time to register is now. After a decision was made to cap the field, things began filling up fast. The half marathon is already full and there are only about 90 spots left in the full marathon. According to race director Jolie McTavish, they decided to cap both races off at 500 runners after last year’s overwhelming response raised some safety issues. Some trails on the course are only eight feet wide and that just seemed too narrow for the more than 700 runners that ran in the half marathon last year. McTavish recommends signing up in the next week or so to ensure a spot in the race.
This year, the marathon will welcome runners from all over Utah and 33 states. Also returning is Kerilyn Hatch, who set a course record when she won the women’s marathon in 2007.
New to the race is Newpark Resort as a presenting sponsor. The company has signed on for five years, which McTavish said is a wonderful addition to the marathon. She is especially excited that their hotel is steps away from the start finish line making it an accessible location for runners.
Also new are various "green" initiatives, including using reusable grocery bags rather than plastic sacks to hold the racer’s T-shirts, bibs and sponsor information. After the race, The Green Machine has been called on to recycle all of the plastic bottles and paper cups.
Not new is the race course which starts at the Basin Recreation Field House and then winds through roads and trails all the way out to the Junction through Deer Valley back through town and Park City Mountain Resort and back for the full marathon.
For the entertainment of runners and race fans alike, bands will be stationed along the course. At the McPolin Barn, local band John Boy’s Mule will be playing. A local teen rock band called The Best will play at the Swaner barn and McTavish’s personal favorite, the Taiko Drum Band from Salt Lake, will play where the course crosses the Rail Trail and Bonanza Drive. McTavish is a big fan of drum corps near busy intersections, because she has found that it is the only effective way to make driver’s slow down.
In the weeks before the race, McTavish is still looking for volunteers to help on before the race and on race day. To register for the race or to volunteer, visit http://www.pcmarathon.com. To sign up for the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase or the Triple Trail Challenge, visit http://www.mountaintrails.org.