The Steeplechase's 16-mile loop with 3,000 feet gained makes this course a challenge for any runner.
- - -
Park City, nestled in the heart of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, has more than 400-miles of single track winding over three ski resorts, and an additional 8,000 acres of preserved open space. Starting at 7,000 feet at Park City Mountain Resort, the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase course takes runners along a 16-mile loop that ascends Mt. Jupiter (10,000ft.) then comes back down.
Here’s a recap of the race events from the 2015 Jupiter Peak Steeplechase:
Race morning: the air was cool as competitors began to trickle through the registration booth picking up their race bibs and timing chips. Runners were already warming up on the hill at the startline, preparing their bodies for the first eight miles that gain over 3,000 feet. As the lines for the bathrooms expanded and contracted, the crowd of runners clustered at the start line grew- watches were calibrated and collective deep breaths taken.
Just before 8:00am, Charlie Sturgis, co-race director with Linda Karz got on the loudspeaker to welcome everyone to the event and thank the sponsors for the money, time and donations. After a short speech the clock struck 8:00am, the horn blared- the racers were off!
Following a steep gully straight up the ski slope, the course quickly transitions from wide open slopes to single track, forcing racers to jockey for position early or risk getting stuck in line amid the trees. Around mile six, competitors turn a corner and the namesake Jupiter Peak appears in the distance. Most racers switch to scrambling with hands and feet to climb the peak’s side that reaches a grade as steep 50% at certain points. Half a mile from the top, racers are greeted by the Skullcandy aide station, bumping music and volunteers handing out food and drinks.
The next seven miles of the course are all downhill. Beautiful singletrack courses down from the high alpine through tall trees and across ski slopes. With tired legs and burning lungs, the racers plunge back towards the base of the mountain. Park City’s well maintained trails are great for picking up speed, and runners use this to their advantage to open their stride and watch the miles fly by.
Waiting at the finish line, we scarfed down breakfast at the acclaimed Silver Star Cafe before the first runners began to come through. As word reached us that the first runner had just left the last aide station, we caught sight of a figure making his way down the final stretch. The 1st place winner at the 2015 Jupiter Peak Steeplechase was Tayte Pullman with a time of 1:50:49! Shortly behind him, with a time of 1:52:25, was King of the Mountain Matthew Kempton with Noah Brautigam in tow.
At 2:22:31, Sarah Kjorstad came running through the finish line to take 1st place in the female category. Up next was Marta Larsen, Queen of the Mountain with a time of 2:26:23. Rounding out the podium, Anna Rudolphi took third place with a time of 2:30:41.
The Jupiter Peak Steeplechase finish line area is on a cul de sac right next to the Silver Star Cafe. Finishers gulp their free beer and many racers and spectators linger for the huge raffle held after the awards are handed out. A hose to shower off and a table covered in delicious recovery snacks made it easy to cheer on the rest of the runners as they came in after the elites.
Thanks again to our partnering sponsors, Trail Runner Magazine, Clif Bar, and Farm to Feet! The La Sportiva Mountain Cup is happy to partner with great companies that make superior products. As the final race in the 2015 La Sportiva Mountain Cup, the overall series awards ceremony took place right after the race’s trophies were handed out.
Preview Photo and Photo 1: © Quinn Carrasco