Amy Roberts: Park City’s recreational pain
In this town, there is no shortage of opportunities to thrust yourself across a finish line on just about any equipment imaginable — a stand up paddle board, alpine skis, bikes, snowshoes, cross country sticks, or just your own two feet. From elite competitions like the Tour of Utah and the FIS World Championships, to a 5K walk that benefits your favorite charity, in Park City there are more podium possibilities than people.
Despite how many times any one of us has hobbled, crawled, or sprinted across a finish line, it’s a pretty safe bet we are quick to dismiss it as any sort of victory. In a town filled with Olympic hopefuls and professional athletes, the rest of us learn pretty quickly to be humble. Here, even our amateur athletes have a way of making the rest of us feel rather lazy. Rob Lea, a local real estate agent, is currently riding his bike across the country to finish what he calls “The Ultimate World Triathlon.” He sells houses for a living yet somehow managed to summit Mount Everest and swim across the English Channel just a few months ago. When people are accomplishing such feats in their spare time, it’s safe to suggest Parkites use a different benchmark for defining ‘hardcore.’
Suffice it to say, there’s no shortage of impressive athletic accomplishments anywhere you look. But even by our somewhat unrealistic standards, there is one race that always demands an extra level of admiration for the participants — the Park City Point 2 Point.
Over the years I’ve found myself at the finish line a few times — definitely not as a rider — but rather to high five a friend in their moment of triumph. Most of the racers can barely remember their own names by the time they cross it. One year, a woman standing next to me at the finish compared her husband to a refugee.
“He actually looks like a humanitarian crisis,” she said as he pedaled her way. I nodded my head in agreement, fairly certain I’d seen more lively looking people in a casket.
The Point 2 Point has been called a “relentless death march” and “a race designed especially for sadists” by finishers. Over the years, it has rightfully earned a reputation as one of the hardest mountain bike courses in the country. Participants must endure over 75 agonizing miles, more than 12,000 feet of climbing, obstacles of all varieties, and countless painful endos.
And that’s not even the hardest part. Because no section of the course is repeated throughout the race, most riders will tell you one of the most difficult things about it is the inability to zone out.
The course is not only technical, it’s also always unfamiliar. You have to be mentally tuned in the entire time, which this year was anywhere from 6 hours and 6 minutes for the first-place finisher, to 12 hours and 40 minutes for the caboose. Regardless of where a rider falls in that window, that’s a long time to stay focused. I can’t even make it through a trip to the mailbox without my grocery list and the theme song from “Friends” running through my head.
This year’s race started at Round Valley, continued through Prospector into Deer Valley where it connected with the Mid Mountain Trail. From there riders linked with a number of trails before heading to Park City Resort via Johns 99. They climbed to Powerline, rode many ups and downs before reconnecting with Mid Mountain, over to Red Pine Lodge, and past the Olympic Park before finishing at the Skullcandy building.
Last Saturday, 284 of the 344 contestants finished. And they have all earned bragging rights.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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Columnist Tom Clyde has been unable to nab a ski reservation so far, so instead he’s catching up on all the important animal-related news going on in the world.