It isn’t too often anymore that I get nervous to run under 7 miles. But when thost 7 miles START at over 8700 feet above sea level and THEN gain an additional 3000 vertical feet in that span…yeah, nervous.
I am in the midst of planning a trip to Utah and jumped at the chance to try the first race of the Cirque Series at Brighton Ski Resort. The Cirque Series has 6 trail races this summer – starting at Brighton, followed by:
- Alta (Utah)
- Alyeska (Alaska)
- Sun Valley (Idaho)
- Arapahoe Basin (Colorado)
- Snowbird (Utah)
All of these races are not for the feint of heart – and while they are all pretty short (the longest being Sun Valley at 9.4 miles). Here are some snippets of the course description about the event at Brighton. I don’t think I could do a better job at capturing the challenge:
Race starts at the base of Brighton, at the Brighton Center (elevation 8755′ ft.)… Immediately you start gaining elevation as you run up the service road via Main Street. The steep road treats you to views of beautiful Aspen groves and spruce trees. Not much time to rest here…Once you get to the top of Milly Express, there will be an aid station here, mile 1.8, [and] now the real fun begins. [You’ll head straight up Mt. Millicent – the trail consists of big boulders, single track, loose & steep sections that will require use of your hands.
Once you have hit the summit of Mt. Millicent (10,795′ ft), you’ll catch your breath, run along the ridge towards the saddle between Mount Wolverine and Mt. Tuscarora, this will be amazing single track and big boulder fields. You’ll pass Mt. Tuscarora on your left, begin to make a short, but technical descent to Catherine’s Pass. On the summit of Sunset Peak (elevation 10,648′ ft.), you will have amazing views of Lake Catherine, Devils Castle, Timpanogos, and Heber Valley, truly a breathtaking summit. From here you traverse Pioneer Ridge summiting Pioneer Peak (elevation 10,447 ft.) along the way to the top of Crest Express.
There will be another Aid Station, mile 4.8 [and you will] start to descend down service road via Pacific Highway Trail and Powder Alley Trail, until you get back to the vendor area for finish line back at Brighton Center where you started.
I mean, I’m exhausted just reading that.
This isn’t even your normal trail race – especially not one for a sea-level dweller like me. It seems like, for me at least, it will be a lot of brisk (hopefully) hiking. I will need to get to the first aid station with 75 minutes, so fingers crossed. Each of the two aid stations will have “water, gummies, bars, & Gnarly Nutrition electrolyte beverages”. I have no hope, but there is prize money attached for each of the divisions (pro, expert, and sport / beginner) – in cash for the pro and in gear allotments for the other two.
Registration is surprisingly affordable ($49) and comes with a Cirque Series snapback hat, logo bib, finisher’s medal, swag bag, and free photos – an underrated perk for a race with views like these races offer. I mean, just check out these pictures from a course check they did last week:
It may be short notice to consider making a runcation to Utah for this race, but the rest of their races occur from July through the second weekend in September, so there is plenty of time to get your transportation and training figured out.
Come join us in the thin mountain air! We can commiserate AND celebrate together!