Jupiter Peak Steeplechase returns to Park City July 13
When the gunshot sounds on July 13, elite runners from across the country will begin an annual six-mile, 3,000-foot climb — before turning around for a 10-mile descent as the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase returns to Park City.
The race, which will begin and end at Park City Mountain Resort above Summer Activities, kicks off at 8 a.m. with the winners expected to finish under the one hour fifty minute mark after a difficult uphill portion, according to Charlie Sturgis, Executive Director of Mountain Trails.
“This is going to be a grueling run, I mean, it always is, and that’s why it attracts the types of runners it does,” Sturgis said. “Just completing this is a tremendous achievement, one that those who finish can be extremely proud of.”
The race is just one third of the Triple Trail Challenge, a three-part event that began on June 8 with the half-marathon Round Valley Rambler. The series all culminates in the Mid Mountain Marathon (August 17), a brutal race that climbs 3,800 feet and falls 5,000 feet before its end. The starting point is located at Silver Lake in Deer Valley before finishing at Olympic Park’s Nordic Jump finish area.
“The competition part of it, as the second leg of the Triple Trail Challenge, is going to be very interesting,” Sturgis said. “What’s great is the variety of the Triple Trail Challenge — to go from a slight elevation climb in the first race (Round Valley Rambler) to a massive one in the second race (Jupiter Peak Steeplechase) really helps bring out the best in these athletes.”
Steeplechase participants aren’t required to run all three portions of the Triple Trail Challenge, although points are awarded to racers who place.
This year’s race appears to be wide open as both the men and women’s winners of the Round Valley Rambler, University of Utah medical residents Matthew Braithwaite and Natalie Como, will not be competing in the Steeplechase. Braithwaite will miss next week’s event because of a scheduling conflict while Como, the Triple Trail Challenger winner the previous two years, is going to miss the final two events.
A few names to watch on the men’s side are Rambler second and third place finishers John Venner and Samuel Shewan. The women’s side is equally competitive as Bethany Lewis, Emma Patterson and Lynsey Gammon took spots second through fourth respectively at the Rambler. Gammon also took third in last year’s Steeplechase while Elizabeth Butler, who finished fifth at the Rambler this year, placed fifth in last year’s Mid Mountain Marathon.
“I expect that the competition among the top three or four finishers is going to be extremely close on both sides (men’s and women’s),” Sturgis said. “Winning this will go a long to eventually winning the Triple Trail Challenge, especially if they did well in the first leg. … But until then, it’s up for anybody to win.”
This year, Steeplechase racers will be presented with a HydraPak speed cup, official event t-shirt and participation medal. More than that, and beyond bragging rights for King or Queen of the Mountain, the top men’s and women’s finishers will also receive $100, courtesy of Skullcandy.
This event is more than a race for the top runners throughout the nation — first and foremost it’s a community-based event that gives locals the opportunity to conquer a trail of this magnitude.
“Beyond the people competing for the Triple Trails Challenge, this is a race for the Park City community. For a lot of people, they aren’t in it to win it, it’s more of a lifestyle type of race,” Sturgis said. “The ultimate goal is to get people out on the trails. … A lot of people live here and they’ve been supporting the trails, so now it’s about getting them out to use the trails now.”
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Returning to Park City’s Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church on Saturday is the annual Bike and Hike fundraiser in support of the Good News Jail and Prison Ministry.