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This year, an all-star group of trail runners showed up to race the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase on July 30 for a total cash purse of $10,000. With so much money on the line, many racers had come from all over the country after racing a qualifying La Sportiva Mountain Cup race in their region.
The Jupiter Peak Steeplchase is a 16-mile course that follows beautifully groomed singletrack through the forest above Park City, Utah. Topping out at the apex of Jupiter Peak, the course gains over 3,000 feet and reaches a height of 10,000 feet.
In first place, with a course-record-crushing time (1:46:20—though it was a slightly new course), Hayden Hawks came in first. This trail runner, new to the scene, was hot off the trails of Ashland, Oregon, after winning the Siskiyou Outback just a week before. Before that, he took first place at the 2016 Speedgoat 50K.
In second place was last year’s Jupiter Peak champion, Tayte Pollmann (1:48:31). After having a tough race out in California at the Marin Ultra Challenge to qualify for the purse, Tayte trained hard all summer. He knew that he had a good chance on this course, since he is a Park City local and was able to train on some of the course’s trails.
In third place was Devin Vanscoy (2:05:42), an Oregon local. After having a great race out at the Siskiyou Outback, he decided to road trip out to the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase with his dad to give it a go for the cash purse and some fantastic trails.
In the women’s race, Taylor Ward (2:07:55) put some serious time in between her and second place, Daniella Moreno (2:25:21).
Taylor, originally from Utah, now lives in Auburn, Alabama, so the altitude and the dry weather were really a factor in this race; the hot, dry air and the dust kicked up by other runners on the course can be a huge factor in how you feel on the course. Luckily, she was in familiar territory and she had no real problem winding the buffed-out singletrack of Park City. Taylor also took the Queen of the Mountain prize, awarded by Skullcandy, for being the first female to crest Jupiter Peak.
Keeping the lead after pushing so hard on a tough climb is no small feat. After a crushing ascent, racers still need to descend about 3,000 feet back to the finish line in just over eight miles.
Coming in just under 18 minutes later, Dani Moreno showed us once again that she is looking to be a top contender in the sport of trail running. Coming from sea level at her home in Santa Barbara, Dani took to the trails of Park City and in relatively little time, made them feel like home. Dani raced her first Mountain Cup qualifier in California at the Marin Ultra Challenge, crushing her competition out on the relatively flat, fast course.
In third place was Ashley Hawks. This was Ashley’s second trail race, with Siskiyou Outback being her first, and she said she loved every minute of it. Traveling around the country with Hayden Hawks, her husband, Ashley has been collecting prize purses at some fairly big-name races.
This year’s La Sportiva Mountain Cup winners went home with some extra cash in hand, but everyone who raced a Mountain Cup race came away with some great swag and awesome prizes. The community in each corner of the country that hosted a race, from central Pennsylvania to the coastal cities north of San Francisco, has its own character, but they’re all connected by their enthusiasm for the sport and nationwide series like the Mountain Cup.