Maybe it’s how the dirt feels better to run on than pavement. Or the lack of cars. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that trail running is all the rage right now. And, much like any other sport, popularity breeds competition. Following are five area trail-running series where you can test your mettle against other off-road junkies.
Discrete Cirque Series
This five-race series (three of which are in Utah) is all about climbing to the top. Though the distances at the Utah venues (Deer Valley, Alta, and Snowbird) range between 7 and 9 miles, expect serious elevation gain in the process. cirqueseries.com
Mountain Trails Foundation’s Triple Trail Challenge
More of a progressive sufferfest than a running series, this trio of foot races—considered de rigueur by most local trail-running devotees—includes the Round Valley Rambler half marathon (June 16), the 16-mile Jupiter Peak Steeplechase (July 14), and then, the granddaddy Mid Mountain Marathon (Aug 18). mountaintrails.org
Park City Trail Series
This four-race progressive series (June 9, July 14, Aug 11, and Sept 15) begins the season with a 5K and ends it with a 21K, all four races of which are run on the not-too-steep Round Valley trail system. New this year: participants can run with on-leash dogs. pctrailseries.com
Vigor Solitude Mountain Resort Trail Series
Bite off as much as you want to chew with this Big Cottonwood Canyon three-event trail-running series, where competitors can register for 3-, 5-, or 8-mile increments at each race. vigorutah.com
Wasatch Trail Run Series
This 11-event Wednesday evening trail-running series is held at various venues on the Wasatch Front and Back. Choose distances from 3 to 9 miles. runontrails.com Note: Cancelled for 2018, but will return 2019.