Brighton resident, 50, repeats as female winner of Jupiter Peak Steeplechase |

Brighton resident, 50, repeats as female winner of Jupiter Peak Steeplechase

Holly Hagerman leads the female racers in the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase Saturday morning, July 14, 2018. Hagerman placed first among the female racers in the annual 16-mile trail running event, her second consecutive year to do so.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

Last week, Holly Hagerman, a Brighton resident, ran up the trails on Jupiter Peak, over Tri-County Peak and back down to the Park City Mountain Resort starting line for the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase in 2 hours, 25 minutes and 3 seconds, earning her first place among women in the race for the second year in a row. Just the week before, she had turned 50.

Hagerman, who grew up in New Jersey, started running marathons in her 30s after she moved to Provo to attend Brigham Young University, but she first started running after her mom’s friend introduced her to road racing at the age of 8.

“I did it, and fell in love,” Hagerman said. “It definitely brings me a lot of joy to run.”

Over the years, her idea of what makes a good run has changed. In her 30s, while competing in road marathons, she said the focus was always on speed.

One of her biggest goals was to run in the Olympic Trials, which she achieved in 2000.

“What a thrill (it was) to be with so many women at that level,” she said. “I mean, here I was standing with Joan Benoit Samuelson, who is a legend in marathon racing.”

Samuelson won the inaugural women’s Olympic gold medal for marathon running at the Los Angeles Games in 1984, and Hagerman said racing alongside her was an honor.

“It was such a thrill just to be in the same starting gate area with her,” Hagerman said.

In her 40s, Hagerman started to transition to trail running, saying she loved the focus on endurance and strength after training for pure speed for so long.

These days, Hagerman runs between 60 and 80 miles a week, depending on what races she has coming up. She is currently training for her first 50-mile race – the Run Rabbit Run race in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, – this fall, which she is running to celebrate turning 50.

“It feels great,” she said of winning the Steeplechase in Park City. “I am really grateful that my body held up and that I was healthy and out here having so much fun. Every step I was so grateful and I was in awe the entire time. Those are the kind of runs I love.”

Race roundup

Hagerman finished ahead of Natalie Como, who took second among women last year as well. Como finished with a time of 02:33:36.2, followed by Lynsey Gammon in third with a time of 02:37:14.3.

Mickey Wilson was the top finisher among men and overall winner of the race. He completed the 16-mile race in 2:01:19.8, followed by John Venner in 2:06:50.5, and Andrew Walker in 2:08:02.6.

There were 283 contestants, 172 men and 111 women.

Lora Smith, resource manager for Mountain Trails Foundation, said the race went smoothly, with some help from Mother Nature. Instead of the predicted 80-degree weather, cloud cover and light rain kept contestants cool during the race, with temperatures in the 70s.

Choosing the local option

Smith said the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase was likely the toughest leg of the Triple Peak Challenge, while many runners’ larger goal is to complete the series.

“I think it gives you a little street cred if you can do this series,” she said. “It’s a stout set of trail races – you’ve got the Round Valley Rambler, Jupiter Peak, which is straight up and straight down, essentially, and then you run traverse the Mid Mountain Trail. So you have to be a really solid trail runner to finish the whole series.”

Dan Vargo, a Park City resident and an avid runner, is participating in the challenge for the first time this year. In the Park City Mountain parking lot before the race, he said this is the first year the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase aligns with his summer schedule, which is usually filled by travel.

“This year we decided to do everything local – not going to California, not going to Oregon, just staying in the Park City and Salt Lake area,” he explained.

He said the decision was influenced by having never competed in the local races, which have grown in number over the past 10 years.

“Between 5-10 years ago, the only real races here were the Mid Mountain and the races up at Snowbird,” he said. “It really has expanded pretty significantly.”

With the addition of races in Brighton and Corner Canyon, as well as the Park City Trail Series, his options have broadened, and he said it was time to take advantage of them.

He finished the Steeplechase with a time of 02:21:15.4, though he considered it a training run for the Mid Mountain Marathon and a race in Tahoe, California (his exception to the local commitment).

After finishing the race, Vargo said he saw the appeal.

“I think the Triple Trail Challenge is a great event and I see why people do it year after year after year,” he said. “So we will definitely be considering (running next year).”

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