Venner and Gammon take home Triple Trail Challenge honors
John Venner had a plan when he entered the 2019 Triple Trail Challenge.
Apart from wanting to win the Challenge itself, Venner, was hoping to be victorious in one of its three events, a task he’d yet to complete despite competing the past two years.
It couldn’t have been more different for Lynsey Gammon.
Gammon entered the Triple Trails Challenge just looking for a way to celebrate her 40th birthday in September, and this is what she settled on.
Regardless of why they entered, both Gammon and Venner can call themselves champions as they were crowned the men’s and women’s winners of the Triple Trail Challenge on Aug. 17.
“This is pretty neat,” Venner said following the conclusion of the Mid Mountain Marathon on Aug. 17. “These are such iconic runs in this area so being able to complete them and win at the end of the day, it’s a great feeling.”
The Triple Trail Challenge, presented by the Mountain Trails Foundation, is a series of three endurance races that take place over the summer.
The Round Valley Rambler half marathon kicked off the series in June, a trail race that takes place on single and double track, where the terrain presents a couple of climbs with a fast downhill section.
Following the Rambler was the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase in July, a grueling 16-mile race that begins at Park City Mountain Resort climbing 3,000 feet all the way to the top of Jupiter Peak at 10,000 feet before a quick descent back down the mountain.
The Mid Mountain Marathon capped off the series with a marathon on Park City’s trails.
At the end of the marathon, the Mountain Trails Foundation combines the times of those who competed in all three events and the runners with the lowest combined time taking home the men’s and women’s crowns.
“Its super cool because winning it means you really are at the top of the best racers in the area,” said Charlie Sturgis, executive director of the Mountain Trails Foundation. “To be consistent for three hard races especially because each race gets more difficult as they go along, it’s impressive and great for the winners.”
Venner is now two-for-two for winning the Triple Trail Challenge when she has competed, having won the overall competition in 2017 before skipping 2018. Now with two victories, Venner says this one is much sweeter considering he won an event this year, the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase.
Venner got the 2019 challenge started with a second place finish at the Rambler before crossing the finish line first in the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase. Knowing he had a sizable lead entering the Mid Mountain, Venner was able to focus on the marathon itself and not about winning the overall challenge. He took fifth at the marathon, besting his nearest challenge competitors for the win in a total time of 6 hours, 52 minutes and 18 seconds.
“This time was definitely better because I got to walk away having won at least one race finally,” Venner said. “I also had more fun in each of the individual races because I knew what I was doing this time. … Having that comfort allowed me to really get after it and trust that I knew what I was doing and training for.”
For Gammon, she had no idea what to expect when first entering the Triple Trail Challenge, just knowing that she enjoys running.
A fourth place finish in the half marathon gave her a chance heading to the Steeplechase. But her “unexpected” Steeplechase win, she said, thrust her into the lead of the challenge and gave her different goals heading into the marathon.
“Of course, when I lined up for today, I wanted to win the overall challenge,” Gammon said following the conclusion of the marathon. “I knew I wasn’t going to win the marathon but I also knew that a good showing could potentially get me the win so that was the goal for today, just a good showing.”
A good showing is exactly what Gammon gave, finishing in third place, one spot ahead of Elizabeth Butler, her closest competition for the challenge title. Gammon finished the challenge in a time of 8:22:14, besting Butler by 18:16.
“It’s awesome, so awesome, especially because it was a goal I made for myself knowing my spot so coming out and doing it was awesome,” Gammon said. “I’m so psyched. … I’ve run that distance but never this type of race, so doing so is pretty special.”
Both Venner and Gammon have no idea what next summer will bring or if they’ll be back to defend their crowns.
Venner knows he’ll be training for another 50K, a race he did the week following his victory in the Steeplechase.
“That was brutal, by far the hardest race I’ve ever done,” Venner said. “Next summer I might do something else but we’ll see. … For now I just want to enjoy this and think about what’s next.”
Gammon already knows what’s next for her: a trip to Switzerland next month to celebrate her birthday. But don’t count on her taking it easy while on vacation.
“I’m going to Switzerland to run over there from town to town. … It should be a lot of fun,” Gammon said.
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The 2020 installation will bring the total number of honorees to 83.