The Park City Running Club is taking 19 athletes to the Junior Olympic Championships in December |

The Park City Running Club is taking 19 athletes to the Junior Olympic Championships in December

Members of the 11-12 age division start their 3K run at the USATF State Association meet on Nov. 16. in Taylorsville. Van Talbott was the top finisher for Park City, finishing fifth while Matthew Hladon and Kyle Clarke finished ninth and 12th, respectively, to advance to the Junior Olympic championships in December.
Courtesy of Rachel Taylor

Two and a half years ago, Rachel Taylor started the Park City Running Club with the idea of turning it into one of Utah’s premier running clubs.

At first, the task seemed daunting, considering there were more established running clubs in the state, such as Race Cats and Utah Running Velocity, who’ve been around for over 20 years.

But Taylor must be doing something right, as this is the third straight year the club is taking its athletes to the Junior Olympics.

“After the hard work, we have now developed the reputation that when red — our color we wear — shows up, every other team there steps up their game,” Taylor said. “Some coaches have told me that they love it when we come because our runners run hard, forcing their runners to run harder. They all know that the Park City running club is always bringing it.”

The Park City Running Club consists of two main programs, a ‘Run for Fun’ program that focuses solely on the enjoyment of running and an ‘Elite’ program, with it’s main objective aiming at the development of young runners who compete in multiple races.

One of those races, considered one of the most important events of the season by Taylor, took place on Saturday, Nov. 16. Park City had a great showing at last weekend’s USA Track and Field State Association Meet at Valley Regional Park in Taylorsville.

The state meet was a qualifier for the Junior Olympic Championships later in December, with the top 15 runners from each race advancing to the national meet.

Highlighting the meet was Park City’s 9-10 year old girls age group.

Henly Wismer was the state champion in the 3k run, finishing in a time of 12 minutes and 1.95 seconds. Coming in second and third were Tatum Flach and Hadley Flach, finishing in times of 12:04.56 and 12:12.96, respectively.

Park City has yet to have a team place in the top-10 at the Junior Olympic meet, but Taylor feels as if this year could be the first time considering the talent of her 9-10 girls team.

“Apart from the top three finishers, our two other racers finished in the top-15, proving that we have a lot of depth at that age group,” Taylor said. “It’s really hard to do, but I really like our chances if we can go out and just run our race.”

Altogether, Park City qualified 19 athletes for the national meet, including the girls’ teams in the 9-10 division and 13-14 divisions.

With the Junior Olympics taking place in wintery Madison, Wisconsin, on Saturday, Dec. 14, Taylor and the athletes are relishing the recent weather change in Park City, and see the Upper Midwestern location as an advantage.

“We are training in winter at high altitude, which is similar to what we will experience in Madison so our runners won’t be going in fearful or cold,” Taylor said. “Our new training regimen is not for everybody, and we will be running in both the sleet and snow. But we won’t run below 20 degrees because it’s not safe for our runners. … So we will figure out an indoor situation to train in.”

The team is not only led by Taylor, but also by Nikki Dotter, a former all-American runner who was recently inducted into the Washington state hall of fame.

Also assisting are Kristin Brown, Carolyn Jackson, Katie Coccaro and recent Triple Trails champion Lynsey Gammon.

“We truly do have such a great team and a great program,” Taylor said. “All of our coaches are super passionate about kids. … But they also bring real life experience as collegiate runners or swimmers, which only helps to the training and education our kids get.”

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