Triple Trail Challenge is underway – and back in-person
3-race series held its first event last weekend
The Triple Trail Challenge, a three-part trail running series, kicked off last weekend with the return of its usual in-person format.
The series went the virtual route the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the races are back to being in-person. The Triple Trail Challenge began on June 11 with the Round Valley Rambler and is a fundraiser for the Mountain Trails Foundation.
“I think it’s super exciting,” assistant race director Rosemary Nicholson said. “I think it’s fun for everybody to be able to get together and run on the trails and kind of just enjoy the race atmosphere. … It was super fun to be around the crowd last weekend.”
The series will continue with the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase on July 16 and the Mid Mountain Marathon on Aug. 20. The Jupiter Peak Steeplechase is a 16-mile loop that starts at Park City Mountain Resort and heads to the top of Jupiter Peak and back. The Mid Mountain Marathon will follow the Mid Mountain Trail from Silver Lake/Deer Valley to the Utah Olympic Park’s trail system. Nicholson added that participants had supported the Triple Trail Challenge’s return to an in-person format.
“We’ve had really great feedback,” Nicholson said. “People like not doing it virtually. I think in the past they’ve done it virtually, and I think it’s nice to have the courses marked and have water on the course and not necessarily doing it in that self-supported fashion.”
Eric Hitzelberger said that he’s been running in the Triple Trail Challenge for the last 15 years, with the exception of one year when he couldn’t due to injury. He started running on trails while living in southern California, and it just clicked for him. Now in Park City, it’s a way for him to see nature while staying fit.
“Came to Park City 16 years ago, and just doing something without the headphones in and seeing nature,” Hitzelberger said. “I would not have seen a grouse if I wasn’t on Power Line Trail back in 2007. It was like, ‘Wow, look at this.’”
Hitzelberger noted that every race has its own challenges. He enjoys running on the Round Valley Rambler’s trail and the distance of the race. The Jupiter Peak Steeplechase offers tremendous views but also offers a challenge between running uphill and then heading back down without falling. And then the Mid Mountain Marathon is its own beast.
“Just so much different terrain as you’re going through 26 miles,” he said. “A lot of pain and agony, too. But it’s a beautiful course. I think one of the most varied terrain, most varied style of plant around you and all that, from all the really huge scree in Iron Mountain to the lush forests in the Canyons area as well as the Deer Valley area.”
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