Mountain Trails’ Foundation’s Jupiter Peak Steeplechase scheduled at Park City Mountain
The 22nd annual Jupiter Peak Steeplechase, a 16-mile trail run, is scheduled for this upcoming Saturday. Charlie Sturgis, executive director at Mountain Trails Foundation, said the run will likely be hot, though a less dusty trail and an altered finish could help take some of the edge off.
The race will end near the First Time lift instead of near the Silver Star lift at Park City Mountain, and this year, Sturgis said recent rains will hopefully keep the trail hard, reducing dust – a boon for runners.
So far, Sturgis said around 300 people have registered for the race, which goes over Jupiter Peak, then up to Tri County Peak for an elevation gain of roughly 3,000 feet.
“For most people (the hardest part) is going from Jupiter Peak, which a lot of people think is the top, but isn’t – you still have to go to Tri County Peak, so that’s a little bit of a heartbreak hill,” he said.
Racers then descend back down to Park City Mountain’s base area, the fastest of which will set 5-minute mile paces.
“These guys go up in 58 minutes, and they are down in 45,” Sturgis said of the race leaders. “I mean, think about running downhill for nine miles in 45 minutes. That’s, what, 12 miles an hour? That’s insane.”
Sturgis added that the most impressive part is how runners navigate steep, uneven terrain.
“You watch these guys come down any part of (the Spiro trail) – and think of all the washboard (rough terrain) on Spiro – and these guys are rocketing down the trail,” he said. “They’re flying.”
The new ending this year will likely add five minutes to the race, which Sturgis said could mean new record standings, depending on if the finish stays in the same place year after year, and is adopted as a standard.
Last year’s top finishers were Ben Robinson, who took first overall with a time of 1:55:56.9, and Holly Hagerman, who finished in 2:18:33.6, earning the women’s title.
Regardless of if the new route sticks or not, Sturgis said it does have an immediate upside: it will allow more room for people to spread out after finishing, especially for those that are “hammered” from the run, and need to collapse after crossing the finish line. That could be a bigger issue this year because of the heat, which is forecast to climb from a low in the low 60s to its apex in the mid-80s the day of the race, with winds speeds under 10 miles per hour.
“Even 60 degrees is pretty warm for that race, for that type of strenuous exercise,” Sturgis said.
Those interested in watching the race will be able to see the start and finish easily, with time to get a meal or a short bike ride in before the first finishers arrive.
Registration is still open online at mountaintrails.org, or in person at the Mountain Trails office at 1665 Bonanza Dr.
Racers should arrive at the starting area around 7 a.m. The race will start at 8 a.m Saturday, July 14.
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Dave Hanscom announced last month he was retiring as volunteer race director of the Wasatch Citizens Series after 30 years in the position.