Posted by Russell on November 02, 19103 at 08:37:59:
The Park City Marathon has developed a reputation as a tough, beautiful
marathon that is well organized. In it’s 7th running this year, it had it’s
first major course change, which got rid of the uphill finish, but it remains
tough, beautiful and well organized.
Running around the well known ski town which hosted many of the 2002 Winter
Olympic events, the first challenge is obvious: elevation. It starts at 6,463
feet, and peaks at 7,041 feet, at mile 17. The new course eliminates the uphill
finish, but don’t think this will be an easy race. I think it’s the only loop
course marathon in Utah; all the others have a net elevation loss. The race
begins outside of town at Trailside Park. Be prepared to drive to the start,
since the nearest lodging is about 4 miles away. Plenty of parking between the
park and the elementary school directly across the street.
Run on June 14th, the race was a little cold at the start, which is 6 a.m. The
sun hadn’t yet risen over the ridgeline to the east, and temps were in the
40’s. The course quickly leaves the residential area, crosses over highway 40,
and turns through a small industrial park before joining the Union Pacific Rail
Trail. This section is a gentle uphill grade for a little over a mile, past a
dairy farm and some nice pasture and meadows before turning back to Trailside
Park, at about 7 ¼ miles.
Next you head west, over some rolling hills, where the view of the Wasatch
Mountains fills the horizon. Little pockets of snow capped the peaks, the lower
parts of the mountains are in full bloom, with aspens busting out in spring
The lowest point on the course (6,375 ft.) comes just past mile 8, where you
turn on Old Ranch Road. Running along a rural 2 lane blacktop road, with some
rolling hills the locals have dubbed ‘the 3 sisters.’ Around mile 11 it turns
off the road, onto a developed trail, to run past horse ranches, along a stream
at the base of Quarry Mountain. This trail brings you parallel to Highway 224.
Using a pedestrian tunnel under the highway, you run right past a beautiful
restored barn, onto a paved trail and towards town.
Back onto roads at mile 14, through a quiet, leafy green neighborhood behind
the city golf course, with more rolling hills. A sharp turn past the ski resort
begins a tough climb from mile 16 ¼ (6,843 ft.) ‘The Empire Grind’ is the ¾
mile climb of 200 feet, which marks the high point of the course. In this
section you’re running past old restored miner’s cabins, in the historic
district of town.
Sweet relief comes quickly, with a steep descent to the ski bridge, which
crosses over Park Avenue, run across the Town Lift Plaza, and another bridge
over Main Street. Catching another paved trail, you begin a gentle descent past
the city park, and back to the Rail Trail. From here you’re on a long gentle
grade out of town for several miles. Back to the meadow section of the course,
you turn back onto roads at mile 24, and cross over highway 40 again, with the
finish back at Trailside Elementary School.
Aid stations are well manned and stocked, placed about every 2 to 2 ½ miles, at
strategic locations. About 300 runners ran the marathon, and 150 or so ran the
5K. (The 5K are being switched to a different date next year.) Temperatures at
the finish were in the low 70’s. Finish area was had plenty of food and
Overall, this was a nice small town race. They had a pasta dinner, packet
pickup and speaker the night before at the local church. The race was won by 23
year old Fritz Van De Kamp, of Salt Lake City, in 2:42: 41. Karen Minchow, also
of Salt Lake City, was first woman, in 3:18:49.
My favorite part? The course and its scenery. It takes in such a range of
areas; meadows, ranches, Old Town…uses tunnels and bridges…very unique.
My least favorite? The Empire Grind. That’s a tough hill, no doubt about it.
I think they could improve the post – race activities by moving across street
to Trailside Park. Maybe some music, runners could bring picnics, kids can play
on the playgrounds or fields.