The Park City Point2Point mountain bike endurance race has been around for five years now. Saturday, Aug. 30, will mark the sixth running of the 75-mile race.
Salt Lake City resident Alex Grant, who often trains in Park City, is aiming to continue his streak of being the only male to ever win the overall title. In the five previous iterations of the race, Grant has finished in first place every single time.
Race director Jay Burke says he expects another world-class effort from Grant in 2014.
"I've tried hard to find some people who can come and give him a run for his money," Burke said. "He's a phenomenal rider and I look for him to have another good result this year."
In addition to Grant, Burke said there will be other solid riders in the field of 350 as well.
"Alex Grant is one of the best American endurance racers right now," he said. "He just won the Breck Epic Stage Race in Colorado. One of his teammates, who is a legend in mountain bike racing, Tinker Juarez, will be back. He's an icon. The last time he came, three years ago, he was on the podium. He could be there again if conditions work in his favor."
In last year's women's open class race, local Evelyn Dong picked up her first P2P victory. Both Grant and Dong won $2,500.
"We pay equally to both men and women," Burke said. "We've got a great list of sponsors this year and, in the open class, there's a $12,000 cash purse. That's always a big draw for the racers to come to Utah.
Yes, the P2P draws many top-flight racers, but there are also plenty of categories for non-elite riders, Burke said. In fact, six riders this year are over 60 years old.
"The oldest racer this year is 65," he said. "We have six folks this year, all males, that are over 60."
Everyone in the 60-plus category will get a custom walking stick as a completion prize, Burke said.
"It says, 'I'm getting older, but I'll bet two bits I can whip your ass in a bike race,'" Burke laughed.
The race will begin at 7 a.m. in Round Valley before working its way through some of Park City's most scenic trails, Burke said. But, he added, trail impact will be limited because the riders won't linger in any one spot for too long.
"It starts at Round Valley and we do a good little lap out there," he said. "But we're out of there by 8:30. You don't even know the race started out there if you get there after that. Then it jumps into the Prospector trail system area, makes its way into Deer Valley mid-morning. Then it gets into the higher terrain of Deer Valley and Park City [Mountain Resort].
"It definitely hits on the Mid-Mountain Trail a couple times, but it's not like we ride the entire trail. The longest section of Mid-Mountain we use is from PCMR to Canyons, where the race finishes."
For those hoping to see a portion of the race, Burke said PCMR offers one of the best views other than the finish area at Canyons.
"The very best spot, with the easiest access, is the bottom of the First Time lift at PCMR," he said. "By that point of the race, mile 53, things are really starting to spread out. Our first racers will be by there probably about 11:30. It'll be pretty tight the top 10-15 male racers are going to be really close and then we've got 4-5 women in the open class who will be pushing each other, too."
Registration for the P2P, which began in February, filled up quickly, as usual, Burke said. Racers hoping to compete in the 2015 P2P will need to be sure to sign-up early.
"Registration always launches mid-February and we sold out in five minutes this year," he said. "We cap at 350 people, but, in that window of time, we had over 700 people on the server trying to register."
For more information on the Park City Point2Point, or to see how Saturday's race will impact local trails, visit www.thepcpp.com/trail-impact.