The Big 5 – Must Do Trail Races

By Coach Lora Erickson,

Trail running is a great way to explore the beautiful mountains of Utah. There are some well-organized races out there, so let’s explore some top 5 must-run trail races.

Park City Trail Series 2017

June 10 – 5K, July 8 – 10K, Aug. 12 – 15 K, Sept. 16 – 13.1

Round Valley Trails – Park City, Utah

If you are a new trail runner, the Park City Trail Series is a great 4-race series for you. The series consists of a 5k, 10k, 15k, and 13.1 mile events taking place on the Round Valley Trails in Park City, Utah. This trail is gentler than other races and is perfect for the beginner. Or if you are a more advanced runner that wants a faster, well-marked course and regularly placed aid stations this is a race series you will want to check out. Starting in June and ending in September, you run a series of increasing longer races once a month; Perfectly spaced for training adaption and offering a great break from city blocks through the beauties of nature. Each race features a Park City Trail Series signature pint glass with a native animal logo as a reminder that nature isn’t far away!  The series is limited to 500 runners.

Xterra Utah 2017

Sept. 16-17 – Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah

Speaking from experience, I can tell you the Xterra events are well-organized with challenging terrain. Not only do they run through some of the most beautiful scenery in Northern Utah but they are the home of the Pan American Off-Road Triathlon Championships and Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run National Championships 21K.  Runners of all ages and abilities are welcome to participate as there is no qualification process.  Other distances are also available to enjoy including a 5K &10K.  Last year over 500 trail runners from 30 different states participated.

Every age-group winner from the 21K course will be awarded a free entry to the 2017 Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii. The top five overall male and female athletes will also receive prize money. Medals and prizes will be given out to top age-groups from all distances.

North Face Endurance Challenge 2017

Sept. 23 – 14 – Park City Mountain Resort, Utah

If you are looking for a trail challenge with significate elevation gain, you’ve found it. The North Face Endurance Challenge Series starts at 7,000 feet and climbs to a height of 10,000 feet. Tour the beautiful and rugged terrain of the Wasatch Mountain Range and navigate your way around the world-renowned ski resort through a mix of single and double track running and mountain biking trials and dirt access roads. As stated on the website “Bring your lungs and legs and be prepared to be awestruck.”

Peak Series by Discrete 2017

June 24 – Deer Valley, Utah, July 15 – Alta Ski Area, Utah, July 29 – A-Basin, CO, Aug 12 – Alyeska, AK, Aug 26 – Snowbird, Utah

I love the description of the race on the website: “In true Discrete style, the Peak Series is redefining what mountain running is all about. Starting from the base of a world-famous ski resort, you’ll rally up windswept ridges and glacial cirques to towering peaks, power down a quad-burning descent, and break the tape into a festival of live music, food, drink, and vendor tents. The elevation is serious but the mileage is manageable, and the race is as hardcore as you want it to be–beat the pros down to earn legend status and cash prizes, or enjoy the views and let the challenge be its own reward.”

This looks like a great series of events in many different places and also offers prize money. The Peak Series kicks off at Deer Valley Resort where runners will be treated to views of Park City, Heber, Jordanelle State Park, before descending back to the vendor village, complete with music, food, beverage, and announcer to root your fellow competitors though the finish area.  The series returns later in the summer to Alta in July and again in the full at the beautiful Snowbird Ski Resort.

Moab Trail Marathon

November 4 & 5, 2017 – Moab Utah

The first Moab Trail Marathon started in 2008 and has been the USA Championships Trail Marathon for the last 5 years. If you are a trail-lover, you won’t want to miss the amazing scenery of this race!  It offers a marathon, half marathon as well as an adventure 5K and even a kids K, so there is something for the whole family.  I have heard great things about the race with its friendly and fun vibe bringing together 1800 trail runners each Fall.  The course is well marked and even has a band that plays at the start.  It’s really a celebration catering the recreational joggers and elite runners alike.  Join in the camaraderie of the race and catch the spirit of trail running with canyon-country scenery.

Happy Trails,

Coach Lora

Coach Lora Erickson is an Ironman All-World athlete placing top 5% in the world in her triathlon division.  Lora comes from a running background and was recruited from Colorado to run for University and Utah & Utah State University where she finished up her degree in Community Health Education with duel minors in Chemistry and Nutrition.  Coach Lora is a certified running, cycling and swimming coach and has been coaching for over 25 year. She has a true passion for health promotion especially loves to work with beginners.  To learn more visit

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Coach Lora Erickson is an Ironman All-World athlete and certified running and triathlon coach recently competing in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Africa in 2018. Lora was born and raised in Colorado and was to run for the University and Utah & Utah State University where she obtained a degree in Community Health Education with duel minors in Chemistry and Nutrition. Coach Lora has a true passion for health promotion and loves to share her experiences. Learn more: About Coach Lora Erickson