On Sunday, September 18, the Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run National Championship half-marathon will be held at Snowbasin Resort, home to several of the skiing competitions of the 2002 Winter Olympics, for the sixth straight year.
With snowfall still a month or so away (we hope), the changing colors of the fall season and the majestic Wasatch Range surrounding Snowbasin Resort provide the perfect backdrop for the U.S. season finale.
The elevation and terrain of the Wasatch Mountains make the course breathtaking in more ways than one. Runners can expect to face more than 2,200 feet of total climbing over the 21-kilometer championship course, and the peak of the trail will reach an elevation of approximately 7,300 feet.
Two-time men’s winner Patrick Smyth, who works in computer mapping, said, “This would be a fun course to map. On the course profile I would put an asterisk on the climb right where the false summit is and say “still a lot of burn to go” because you get to the aid station up there and you think you just have to run the ridge and it’s flat and easy-peasy, but it’s not. It’s another grind to the top before you get to the sweet, awesome downhill.”
The hard work to get to the top is worth it!
“I’ve run a lot of trail races all over the world and it’s safe for me to say that this is definitely THE best, funnest, flowiest downhill out there,” said Smyth. “You just zone out and before you know it you’ve knocked out three miles.”
Two-time women’s winner Liz Stephen, an Olympic cross country skier who says she’s really “a runner at heart” was blown away by the course last year.
"It literally couldn’t have been more perfect for running last year, just one of those magical days,” she said. “It’s just a well laid out course. It’s really hard in so many ways but it’s up and then it lets you rest, and it’s flowy and wonderful, and gorgeous.”
There are also 10-kilometer and 5-kilometer races next Sunday which follow much of the same trails as the first half of the 21K course. Sign-up at http://www.xterraplanet.com/trailrun/nationals