Sports

Alta’s Cirque Series produces a plethora of Park City podium places

ALTA, Utah — It was a mass start for the sold out, 500 person field at Alta on Saturday during the Cirque Series running race. Park City was well-represented with 41 athletes running among travelers from every region of the country, and the Parkite presence on the podium was impressive.

Zach Selzman, 17, of the Park City Ski and Snowboard (PCSS) Mountain Running Team was the top finisher among them on the podium with a finish time of 1:10. This is his fifth Cirque Series and he told TownLift, “It was excellent. The weather was good for this type of racing, the crowd was nice, I was feeling pretty good, just a little bit tired but it’s always nice to be out here with everybody.”

Leah Lange, 24, also of the PCSS stood second on her podium and cross-country skiing Olympian Rosie Brennan, 33, PCHS and PCSS alum, and current U.S. Ski and Snowboard athlete, had a third place finish. 

“It was actually my first time doing a mountain running race, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was looking for a nice challenge this summer and it was great for that,” Brennan said.

Another Parkite, Chrissa Unterburger, 32, placed third in her division. 

Alta’s course for the race series is 7.1 miles and 2,545′ vertical feet. 

Griffin Riley, a Park City High School student and member of the PCSS SkiMo Team crossed the line a notable sixth, at only 16 years old, in a field of literal pros, seconds after athletes twice his age and seconds before the downpour started.

With the series being an individual athletic endeavor, the fact that so many Park City competitors entered was a coincidence. The fact that so many Park City competitors did so well was not a surprise. Adam Loomis, a PCSS coach, wasn’t at Alta on Saturday because he was running, and winning, a 50-mile race that he saw, merely as a strategic training comp for his forthcoming 100-miler in Colorado. 

Costumed Spiderman women, a 68-year-old participant (the oldest on the roster), and the youngest, an 8-year-old, ran alongside his dad. The boy’s grandmother was overcome with tears of pride when the two crossed the finish line.

Race Category Averages:

  • SPORT: 68% of registrants
  • EXPERT: 27% of registrants
  • PRO: 5% of registrants

When Salt Lake City resident Julian Carr used to run his dog up Mt. Olympus, he’d think to himself, ‘Hmmm, I’m getting up there pretty quick. I wonder how I’d do against other locals. I think I’ll enter a race.’ When he did the research, he couldn’t find any such races. So, in 2015 he created the wildly popular Cirque Series.

Nowadays, after doing the brisk business of partnering with Park City companies like, Backcountry, Guest Haus Juicery, and Kodiak Cakes. He not only counts down the race start over the blasting party music, he then runs the race alongside the rest.

Carr told TownLift, “This fun, inclusive, safe, intense atmosphere you’re experiencing here in the Race Village is the exact vision that I’ve always strived for with the Cirque Series.”

Carr opts to do what many do on the day and swap out the shoes they wore there with a free pair of On Shoes just for the race. Helpful for traction, it was a good move to opt-in on this day as the clouds rolled in, shrouding the top of Mt. Baldy such that the athletes couldn’t see more than ten feet in front of them at times. Risky since racers have to run single file at points, dodging and ducking when they hear, “Rocks!” being called out from above while crawling and climbing the course.

The course is so slippery at a full run some places that runners coming from behind were stacking up upon each other into trees they would brace against. A simple, sincere, “Sorry” was the common experience and common language as it was all good.

Adam Fehr, Park City resident, and ten time Cirque Series competitor and Alta Marketing Manager said, “This is a great turn out for what is our biggest event of the summer.”

Familiar faces were also at Alta. There was the barefoot runner who goes by the nickname “Beans”, one Cirque Series he realized mid-mountain that the newish shoes he though were sufficiently broken-in, weren’t. Thus he pitched ’em and ditched ’em and has been running faster times ever since. Interviewing Chris Fisher meant waiting in line after his adoring, selfie-taking fans since he’s the only person to ever complete a world-famous Double W.U.R.L. (Wasatch Ultimate Ridge Linkup) competition. Then there was Jeff Waldmuller, para athlete, whose amputated leg was just healing up from another previous race before he signs up for his next Cirque Series soon.

 

 

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