Park City Trails Series allows runners to build | ParkRecord.com

Park City Trails Series allows runners to build

Four-race series attracts newcomers and expert runners

Spencer Castro nears the finish line of the Park City Trail Series 5K run on June 10 in Round Valley. Castro was the overall winner of the race, finishing the course in 17 minutes, 51 seconds.

Trail races can be intimidating, especially in Park City.

In addition to the high-level athletes who compete, some races in town contain grueling terrain over long distances.

Enter the Park City Trail Series, a four-race series designed to introduce new trail runners to the sport. All four races take place on the Round Valley Trails in Park City.

"Our goal is we're more of an introductory trail series," series race director Pete Van Slooten said. "We're not the hardest race or the tallest race or the steepest race."

Van Slooten works for the Salt Lake Running Company, which puts on all four races. The first of four races, an 5K that ran through a combination of the Hat Trick, Fast Pitch and Matt’s Flat trails, took place on June 10.

Roughly 30 percent of the people who participated ran their first-ever trail race, according to a post-race survey. Either way, the race is for beginners and experts, alike.

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"That's kind of who our clientele mostly is," Van Slooten said. "But it's a fun, fast-rolling course. The people at the top end of the pack also seem to enjoy the race as well."

The first race of the Park City Trail Series was unique compared to years past, Van Slooten said. Many people there amped up fundraising efforts for Bonanza Flat, the 1,350-acre stretch of high-altitude land in Wasatch County, which Park City acquired five days after the race.

Van Slooten said the Bonanza Flat campaign even got support from a local business.

"Kodiak Cakes initially came to us and said we work in Park City," Van Slooten said. "We use these trails. We really value open space and trails. We want to have an impact on the cause, but we also want to get people onto the trails and get people active. [Kodiak Cakes] actually stepped up and offered a challenge donation for every registration for the 5K."

Kodiak Cakes matched whatever was made via registration, as well as additional donations that were made the day of the race. Between the many who signed up and the roughly $1,400 donated on site, participants matched Kodiak Cakes' cap of $10,000.

The Park City Trail Series race attracted runners from all over, including some from Salt Lake Valley, but Van Slooten said participants from Summit County were the most aware of the situation.

"That was a huge response," Van Slooten said. "The other thing that I think was amazing was on race day, people ponied up just handfuls of dollars. … The big takeaway for me was that the people in Summit County really knew a lot about Bonanza Flat."

The first portion of the Park City Trail Series is complete, but there are three more races to go before it’s concluded. The next race, a 10K, will take place on July 8, while the third race, a 15K, is scheduled for Aug. 12. The final race, the longer half marathon, will run on Sept. 16.

Van Slooten said there is still room for those interested to sign up. Whether one is looking to prepare for a tougher race down the road, or whether one is looking to get started in the trail running game, the Park City Trail Series has a spot for everyone, he said.

"We always track all runners and never pull down any aid stations until the final runner is through," Van Slooten said. "I think bigger races have a cut-off time and if someone is willing to come out there and challenge themselves, we'll stay there as long as we need to."

The 10K race of the Park City Trail Series will take place on July 8 at the Round Valley Trail Head in Quinn's Junction. The race is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. For information, visit http://pctrailseries.com.