Autumn is my favorite time of year to race in Utah. Temperatures are ripe for a PR, the changing leaves are downright inspiring, and the busyness of summer has finally slowed. If you’re looking for a few great races to fill your fall calendar, go no further. Here’s our top five run—and even a bike—races for fall.
1. Tour de Donut- September 27, American Fork, UT. One of my top five races from last year, this event is traditionally held in July, but the heat of asphalt bike riding midday in July was too much for participants to bear…so they moved it to late September. The premise is simple enough: ride your bike three times around a 7-mile loop, stop for donuts at the end of each loop, stuff face with as many donuts as possible, and receive a time deduction for each one eaten.
He (or she) who eats the most donuts will be crowned King (or Queen) Donut! Age group and overall awards are based on donut-adjusted times, so while being speedy is important, eating at least a few donuts will help your quest to get a trophy. Yes, it’s a real trophy. Not a simple ribbon, my official trophy from placing 3rd in my age group last year sits proudly on my desk to this day. (Because I’m kind of a dork like that. Blame it on never winning science fair as a kid.) Watch out 20-29-year-old ladies, I’m returning to defend my title this year! Use code SPORTSGUIDE2014 for $5 off an entry or code SPORTSGUIDETEAM2014 for $25 off a team entry.
2. Sports-am Stairway to Log Haven 6k – October 5, Millcreek, UT. This race is, dare I say, one of my favorite events…ever. I’m borderline depressed that I’ll be out of town for this year’s edition, but I’m marking my calendar now for 2015! The challenging, scenic course begins at Einstein Bagels on Wasatch Boulevard then you run UP Millcreek Canyon to Log Haven. This lung-burning uphill race is not for the faint of heart (or the undertrained), but the rewards are worth the pain.
After huffing and puffing your way to the top, you’ll enjoy an intimate buffet breakfast at Log Haven accompanied by live music and an awards ceremony. Most of this action happens on the patio, so I highly recommend toting a jacket as temperatures felt ultra-icy after cooling off from the run. (Confession: I scarcely left my indoor table the whole time. I unwisely did not bring a jacket.) Because the restaurant is small, participants are kept low enough that netting an age-group placing is not outside the realm of possibility. Plus, Log Haven gift cards are on the table for top finishers. Get training on the hill repeats now! Fee goes up September 27 so register today!
3. North Face Endurance Challenge– October 4-5, Park City, UT. Unfortunately the shorter distances of this race are held the same day as Log Haven, so you’ll have to pick your poison on which race to do. 2014 is the first year in Utah for this all-trail challenge held at Park City Mountain Resort, so you’ll want to bring trail shoes if you have them. Be ready for some serious hill climbing at elevation too!
Luckily, there are a plethora of race distances to choose from so everyone can compete: 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon relay, marathon, 50K, and 50-mile. The 50-mile, 50K, marathon, marathon relay, and kids’ run are held Saturday morning with the 5K, 10K, and half-marathon on Sunday morning. The event weekend includes meet and greets with North Face athletes, expo booths, finish line festival, and more. See a video preview of the first-ever Park City event HERE.
4. Heroes and Villians 5K or 10K– October 25, Draper, UT. Superheroes and evil-doers alike will descend on Draper City Park for this pre-Halloween 5K or 10K run or walk. Prizes awarded to speedy runners and best costumed individuals.
Families welcome! This is the first year for this race so I can’t comment on course or atmosphere, but it sure looks like a fun time! Entry fee is just $25 with promo code HVD5. Profits will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
5. Mustache Dache– November 8, Thanksgiving Point, Lehi, UT. There are plenty of…hmmm…how to say this politically-correct-like….women’s health-oriented races in Utah, so it was about time for a race supporting men’s health awareness and prostate cancer research to come to Utah. Mustache Dache is that race. Yes, women and children are welcome at this event that pays homage to the finest ‘staches the world has seen (Hello Tom Selleck!), and encourages you to grow—or draw—your own for race day.
Runners receive a stylish Mustache Dache t-shirt with registration along with a blingtastic mustache medal after crossing the finish line. This year, kids 12 and under will have their own race and the $20 registration includes a bib, medal, and official Mustache Dache cape! Man, sometimes growing up is a bummer. Cape running sounds pretty legit. Competitive runners rejoice, this year’s dache will offer chip timing and age-group awards! Last year’s race was cold—like snow flying in your face and your fingers going totally numb cold—so let’s hope for better weather this go around.
6. Pilgrim 5K– November 27, Thanksgiving Point, Lehi, UT. Yes, I’m including two races at Thanksgiving Point. Why? Because both races are so awesome I didn’t want to choose between them. It’s like your child asking which one is the favorite. You love both equally, but differently! Second, they’re held in vastly different areas of this massive venue so the courses are not the same. That said, if you like your Thanksgiving turkey served with a side of silly and a helping of ridiculous, this is the turkey trot for you.
Runners receive a historically-inaccurate, but nonetheless glorious, belt buckle hat or bonnet along with a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt designed to look like a pilgrim jacket or dress. Since costume prizes are on the line, festooning your attire with additional adornments is advised. Enter as a couple, individual, or group to be prize eligible.
Once suited up you’ll run a 5K through the rolling hills of Thanksgiving Point’s gorgeous golf course where you’ll likely see wildlife (read: deer running alongside you) to finish at Plymouth Rock where you’ll feast with fellow pilgrims on pumpkin bars and hot apple cider. Big homemade pumpkin pies and gift cards are given to overall winners, but age-group winners in 5-year divisions receive baby pies too! Race is chip timed. Sign up before October 31 and get the hat for FREE! Fee is just $25 until then.
Prices increase on all these races if you delay signing up. So get your tookus in gear and register. There are fewer better ways to celebrate the season (and its compendium of holidays) than on the race course. See you there!