According to the Wasatch 100 website, “the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run is held in Utah the first Friday and Saturday after Labor Day each year. The run stretches from Layton, Utah to The Homestead in Midway, Utah and covers some of the most beautiful scenery the Wasatch Mountains have to offer. There is a cumulative elevation gain of approximately 26,882 feet, as well as a cumulative loss of approximately 26,131 feet throughout the course. This is a premier run that will test the endurance of any runner.”
The course is a point to point which, “traverses the heart of the central Wasatch Mountains” and provides 53,000′ of elevation change. That’s an average of 530′ per mile of elevation change over the 100 miles. After training on the course for the last four months, I wholeheartedly agree with the description that the race “is a study in contrasts: peaks and valley; trail and scree; heat and cold; wet and dry; summer and winter; day and night….” I’ve encountered these contrasts on every single training run. During the race, you’re guaranteed to experience every one of these conditions as well.
The terrain presents challenges right from the start. The most notable is a 3000′ climb from miles 5 to 8. Failing to pace yourself here can lead to significant difficulties even before you reach your crew and pacers for the first time at mile 40. Much of the course follows technical single track trail with “stretches of sagebrush, scree, waist-high grass, and fist-sized cobblestones as well.” And if the weather, distance, altitude or terrain don’t challenge you, then watch out for the wildlife. “Runners have encountered deer, elk, moose, porcupines, rattlesnakes, bear, mountain lions, sheep.” I’ll add badgers to the list of wild animals you might encounter.
All intimidation and warnings aside, the course is breathtaking. There are points along the course, such as Lambs Canyon, where the single track takes you along beautifully canopied, pine covered trail that’s soft and welcome underfoot. Day or night, the traverse across Red Lovers Ridge, which straddles Park City and canyons leading to the Salt Lake Valley, reinvigorates you right when you need it most. Many of the ridges run in the first 40 miles give you endless views of the Wasatch National Forest, Uinta National Forest, Salt Lake and its valley.
With all this diversity and challenge, it’s no wonder that the Wasatch 100 is widely considered the second hardest ultra in America. It’s a race that demands respect and in turn delivers one of the greatest senses of achievement available in endurance sports today.
Enjoy the slideshow of the course and our adventures this spring and summer!
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Note: All quotes come from the Wasatch100.com website.