Trail running series starts in the valley, then heads to the mountains
Mar 20, 2019 01:45PM
● By Josh Wood
Runners of all levels hit the trails for the Wasatch Trail Run Series. (Photo courtesy Mitt Stewart)
By Joshua Wood| [email protected]
After a year off, the Wasatch Trail Run Series is returning for another round of 13 races in 2019. The series starts in March and April with events in Dimple Dell and Corner Canyon before moving to the mountains with events running through mid-August.
The race series organizer, Mitt Stewart, is excited to bring the events back in 2019. “We have a lot of runners who use our events as speed workouts for their training,” Stewart said. “I ran into some of them on the trails last year, and they told me they weren’t as good in races last year without that training.”
Each race offers the opportunity to run a scenic trail while getting in a good workout. All races take place on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. “Wednesday works for a lot of people who can’t get to an event on the weekend,” Stewart said. “That combined with the affordability of the races makes it popular.” Races have averaged around 200 participants in the past, and organizers expect more this year.
The Wasatch Trail Run Series is designed to be inclusive. In addition to its Wednesday evening schedule and relatively low registration costs, the races are designed for a range of skill levels. Each event has long and short courses. Long courses range from around seven to nine miles, while short courses are from three to six miles.
“People won’t be intimidated,” Stewart said. “There will always be someone at about your level. Most of our runners do multiple races, so you will likely see that person at your level at each race.”
According to Stewart, people who participate in the races include competitive racers who use the events to train for speed, people who can’t make it to running events on weekends, and those just looking for a workout. Events often include parents running with their children and people walking the courses as well.
This will be the seventh year of races for the Wasatch Trail Run Series. Stewart started the events because it sounded like a great way to get in some extra training during the week for his mountain biking. He wanted the races to be low key, fun and low cost.
Stewart’s schedule and family commitments kept him from organizing races in 2018. When he hit the local trails last year for a casual run, he crossed paths with racers who told him how much they missed the series.
“It was tough not doing it last year,” Stewart said. “I knew I created something that worked well.”
The race schedule includes 13 races in 2019. The first five events, which take place from late March through May 1, take place in Dimple Dell, Corner Canyon and Herriman. In late May, the series moves to Utah Olympic Part, Solitude, Snowbird, Alta and Brighton. A full list of events can be found at www.runontrails.com. Participants can register on-site the day of each event, or they can purchase multiple race packages online.
In addition to running, the events include raffles and charitable donations. Organizers draw runners’ bib numbers during races to give away certificates for running shoes and other gear. A portion of event proceeds is donated to nonprofits who support trail networks and related causes. Participants who run in at least nine races and volunteer for one more get a “10 Race Club” jacket.
As for the above average snowfall the Wasatch Front has received this year, Stewart and his team have seen it before. “A few years ago, we had to dig a trail through the snow at Snowbird,” he said. “We will likely have to do that again for the early races in the mountains this year. It’s a lot of fun.”
In addition to the fun he has and the training he gets from each race, why does Stewart do it? “It’s my way of doing something that makes people happy.”