Triple Trail Challenge will crown a winner after the Mid-Mountain Marathon on Saturday | ParkRecord.com

Triple Trail Challenge will crown a winner after the Mid-Mountain Marathon on Saturday

Natalie Como (229), Sam Lepey (306) and Eric Malkowski (117) cruise down the Iron Bill trail at the Utah Olympic Park during the Park City Trail Series' Mid-Mountain Marathon Saturday morning, August 18, 2018. (Tanzi Propst/Park Record)
Tanzi Propst/The Park Record | The Park Record

The time has come for Park City to crown a Triple Trail Challenge champion.

When the Mid-Mountain Marathon concludes on Saturday, Aug. 17, the Mountain Trails Foundation will announce the winners of the Triple Trail Challenge.

“The contenders are out there for first, second and third place as overall winners,” said Charlie Sturgis, executive director of the nonprofit. “There are a few runners who are in a good spot but its still a wide open race for anyone to win.”

The Triple Trail Challenge is a trio of races in Park City that take place over a 10-week period in the summer. The 2019 series began with the Round Valley Rambler on June 8, followed by the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase on July 13.

“What’s great is the variety of the Triple Trail Challenge, it always draws in big-time runners,” Sturgis said. “To go from an elevation climb in the first race (Round Valley Rambler) to a massive one in the second race (Jupiter Peak Steeplechase) to a really long trail in the final race (Mid-Mountain Marathon) really helps bring out the best in these athletes.”

Leading the way in the men’s division of the challenge is John Venner.

Venner finally broke through with a victory in one of the races after crossing the finish line first at the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase in a time of 2 hours, 6 minutes and 2.3 seconds. He finished second in the Round Valley Rambler earlier this year, and appears to be in good position to win it all considering he finished second in last year’s Mid-Mountain Marathon.

Expected to challenge Venner for the overall winner’s spot are Samuel Shewan and Owain Rice. Shewan finished sixth in the Steeplechase, second in the Rambler and third in last year’s marathon, while Rice finished fifth in the Steeplechase and third in the Rambler.

Lynsey Gammon leads the women’s division with a Jupiter Peak win and fourth place in the Rambler.

Chasing down Gammon is a trio of women led by Elizabeth Butler, who finished fifth in the Rambler and second in the Steeplechase. Just behind are Alison Craven, who has a ninth place finish and third place finish so far, but finished 12th in last year’s marathon. Emily Long, another dark horse, finished eighth in the Rambler and seventh in the Steeplechase.

Even more than the Triple Trial Challenge, Sturgis says this final race is all about the community, not just those competing for the overall winner’s spot.

“For most people it’s about a lifestyle. It’s about setting a goal and working towards it. … It’s as much about the journey as the race itself,” Sturgis said. “We have a lot of runners coming back from various physical impairments that are now feeling better. We have people running who’ve been through chemotherapy, been hurt while in the military.”

The Mid Mountain Marathon, sponsored by Salomon Running, is a trail runner’s dream when it comes to competing in a marathon, according to Sturgis. It begins at 7 a.m. and the first racers are expected to cross the finish line right after the three-hour mark.

The course begins at Silver Lake in Deer Valley before ending at the bottom of the Nordic jumps at the Utah Olympic Park, representing 26.2 miles of terrain racing. The marathon isn’t just an all-out race with pure speed as there are multiple technical components to it, forcing runners to be thinking when tired. The race climbs a total of 3,800 feet before descending 5,000 feet overall, with multiple climbs and fast downhill sections.

“Each race is a progression of distance and this is where it all ends, a little longer and a little harder than the other two,” Sturgis said. “It’s a great way to get the local population out there to utilize the trails. The difficulty and uniqueness of the terrain is what makes this race so special and it’s just a great finishing event.”

Pre-registration is open until Wednesday, Aug. 13 with a discounted price, while runners can also register the day of. For more info, go to https://mountaintrails.org/event-race-mtf/mid-mountain-marathon/


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