The Big 5

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Utah’s Must-Run Trail Races

Looking to race in a whole new way? The sport of trail racing is growing fast, and it’s a great way to explore Utah’s beautiful mountains. Whether you’re bored of your usual road routes or looking for a sport easier on your joints, trail running is a great way to mix up your training and racing.

Today, there are tons of trail races to choose from, and here we’ve selected five must-try events in 2017. Climb hills, run through forests, and connect with nature while competing on these challenging, scenic courses.

Runner with his dog

Park City Trail Series (Dogs are welcome) – Photo Credit: Courtesy of Parlk City Trail Series

Park City Trail Series

June 10 – 5K, July 8 – 10K, August 12 – 15K, September 16 – 13.1
Round Valley Trails – Park City, Utah

For newbies to trail running, the Park City Trail Series is a great first race to sign up for. The four-series consists of 5K, 10K, 15K, and 13.1-mile events on the Round Valley Trails in Park City. This gentler trail is easier than other trail races and perfect for the beginner. Or, if you are a more advanced runner looking for a fast, well-marked course and regularly placed aid stations, you’ll love this series too.

Starting in June and ending in September, the race distances are perfectly spaced for training adaption, and offer a great break from running city blocks. Racers receive a Park City Trail Series signature pint glass for each race they run, which feature native animal logos as a reminder that nature isn’t far away! Series limited to 500 runners.

Startling line of race with a large group of runners

Discrete Peak Series – Photo Credit: Courtesy of Peak Series

Peak Series by Discrete

June 24 – Deer Valley, Utah; July 15 – Alta Ski Area, Utah; July 29 – Arapahoe Basin, Colorado; Aug 12 – Alyeska, Alaska; Aug 26 – Snowbird, Utah

This demanding series redefines what mountain running is all about. Racers start at the base of world-famous ski resorts, climb up the ridges, summit the peak, and descend back to the vendor village where live music, food, and drink await. The Peak Series is anything you want it to be. Challenge yourself and try to beat the pros, or keep it chill and enjoy the mountain scenery. Note that prize money’s on the line for speed demons!

The Peak Series kicks off in June at Deer Valley Resort where runners will be treated to views of Park City, Heber, and Jordanelle State Park before returning to the vendor village and rooting your fellow competitors through the finish area. The series continues at Alta in July before traveling to Alaska in August. Then the Peak Series season concludes on the beautiful, challenging trails of Snowbird Ski Resort in August.

Woman running on a forest trail

XTERRA Trail Run – Photo Credit: Courtesy of XTERRA

XTERRA Trail Run Nationals

September 17 – Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah

Speaking from experience, I can tell you that XTERRA events are well organized and run on challenging mountain terrain. The varied courses feature twisting single track, fast flat sections, and some punishing climbs—expect 2,200 feet of climbing on the 21K course.

Racers can choose from the 21K off-road championship course, 10K, or 5K. Runners of all ages and abilities are welcome to participate, as there is no qualification process. Last year over 500 trail runners from 30 different states participated. Outdoor Sports Guide readers save 20% on all distances with promo code OSGM20.

Man running on a red rock trail

Moab Trail Marathon – Photo Credit: Courtesy of Moab Trail Marathon

North Face Endurance Challenge

September 23 and 24 – Park City Mountain Resort, Utah

If you’re looking for a trail challenge with significant elevation gain, you’ve found it. The North Face Endurance Challenge Series starts at 7,000 feet and climbs to a height of 10,000 feet. Tour the beautiful and rugged terrain of the Wasatch Mountain Range while navigating through this world-renowned ski resort on a mix of single and doubletrack running and mountain biking trails.

Choose your favorite distance: 50-mile, 50K, marathon, marathon relay, and kid’s run on Saturday; half marathon, 10K, 5K, and another kid’s run on Sunday.

Moab Trail Marathon

November 4 and 5 – Moab, Utah

Join in the camaraderie and catch the spirit of trail running with canyon-country scenery at this Moab race. The first Moab Trail Marathon started in 2008 and has been the USA Championships Trail Marathon for the last five years. If you’re a trail lover, you won’t want to miss the amazing scenery of this race! This event is known for its well-marked course, and a friendly, fun vibe that brings over 1,800 trail runners each fall.

Catering to recreational and elite runners alike, this race offers marathon, half marathon, 5K adventure run, and Kids K distances—so the whole family can participate.

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About Author

Coach Lora Erickson is a USATF certified running coach and nationally ranked triathlete with over 28 years of athletic experience. To learn more contact her directly at Lora@blonderunner.com or visit BlondeRunner.com to learn more about services, classes and health programs.

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