Jupiter Peak Steeplechase ends with first time winners in both divisions
It was a pair of firsts for John Venner and Lynsey Gammon following the conclusion of the annual Jupiter Peak Steeplechase Saturday morning.
Venner and Gammon won the men’s and women’s divisions of the Steeplechase in dominating fashion by finishing at least 2 minutes and 30 seconds ahead of the second-place finishers.
The Steeplechase is the second event of the Triple Trails Challenge, following mid-June’s Round Valley Rambler and ahead of the Mid-Mountain Marathon in August.
It’s been a long road for Venner.
After finishing third in the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase two years ago, Venner came in second at least year’s event. Entering the race this season, Venner was looking to continue his upward trajectory and bring home first place.
So when he crossed the finish line on Saturday morning, he was greeted by an “it’s about time” being yelled from somebody in the crowd.
“I’m finally at the top of the podium,” Venner said after the win. “My training has been a lot better. … I have a 50K next weekend so I was a little worried that the fatigue from training was going to affect this. I ran this week pretty smart, got some good rest, got some good nutrition so that helped a lot.”
Venner completed the race in 2:06 using a strong descent on the race to finish ahead of the second place finisher, Travis Gaylord.
“I wasn’t so much focused as getting to the summit first but I knew I wanted to be first across the line,” Venner said. “I went out with another guy named Sam but I knew he wasn’t going to climb as well as I was, but it was nice to have somebody for a bit. Once I got around him, I overtook him after the first mile and stayed in first the rest of the race.”
With the win, Venner takes the men’s lead in the overall race for the Triple Trails Challenge, including his second place finish at the Round Valley Rambler.
On the women’s side, Gammon claimed first place after taking third in last year’s event. She followed that up with a fourth-place finish in the Round Valley Rambler earlier this year, placing her atop the standings on the women’s side for the Triple Trail Challenge winner. This is was her third race as part of the Triple Trails Challenge, finally taking home that elusive win.
“I didn’t know I was the first woman to finish, I didn’t know it when I was running,” Gammon said following her win. “I wasn’t expecting to win so it was a good feel to hear that.”
Gammon, much like Venner, also dominated on the descent to finish at 2:35:34.7, just over 3:30 ahead of second-place competitor Elizabeth Butler.
“This lady definitely kept me on pace the whole time,” Gammon said of Butler. “I kind of preserved some energy on the up but on the downhill, I just kind of let it go. I had the legs and they just carried me down.”
Gaylord, Andrew Walker, Joseph Cackler, Owain Rice and Samuel Shewan placed second through sixth, respectively. Shewan and Rice are Venner’s completion for the Triple Trails Challenge winner after placing second and third in the Rambler, respectively.
The women’s side was close as Butler, Alison Craven, Holly Hansen and Caitlin van der Berg finished second through fifth, all coming in under 2:55.
The race for the women’s Triple Trails Challenge winner is essentially a solo race between Gammon and Butler that will be decided in August. Butler has yet to win one of the events, finishing fifth at the Rambler (one spot behind Gammon).
Both winners, as well as others, couldn’t have predicted better conditions to run in. A light rain began to fall throughout the race keeping competitors from overheating in the high temperatures.
In all, 226 competitors completed the 16-mile race, in which the first six miles went up a 3,000-foot climb before turning around for a 10-mile descent.
“Turnout was really good today,” Charlie Sturgis, Executive Director of Mountain Trails, said. “The vibe of this is always a great vibe race. Everybody is here to just go out and enjoy the mountains, they’re just going to have fun.”
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Over the last 12 years, the National Ability Center has funded organized and hosted the Summit Challenge, a bike ride for participants of all abilities.