Running can be an intimidating sport, with little structure or instruction on how to progress from jogging a lap around the block to the pinnacle of a full-fledged marathon.
Rhielle Widders sought to change that five years ago, creating the Park City Trail Series to give even the greenest runners a path to running a half-marathon in little more than the length of a summer.
Park City Trail Series
For more information and to register for the race events, visit r-u-nevents.com.
The 2014 Park City Trail Series schedule is as follows:
June 21 » 5K Trail Race
July 12 » 10K Trail Race
Aug. 9 » 15K Trail Race
Sep. 20 » Half-Marathon
The Series comprises four trail-run races, building a runner from the ground up, beginning with a 5K in June, to a 10K in July, a 15K in August and finally, a half-marathon in September.
"Our four races are designed to help you train for your first half-marathon, and they step up incrementally each month," Widders said.
Set on the Round Valley trails in Park City, the races are designed to get people out of the monotony of traditional running and to provide physical, emotional and mental benefits that are missing in regular races, Widders said.
"That was really an important element to me was to make sure that we provided an opportunity for people to do it in a natural area," she said.
Before running in the events last year, Hilary Greene had never run a trail race. She ran all four of the Trail Series with her friend in 2013 and has since run five other half-marathons.
"Once you start running on the trails, it’s addicting. You can’t stop," Greene said.
This year, free group run training sessions are held on Wednesday evenings in Park City to gear up for the races, with another group run held the third Thursday of every month on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail near the Natural History Museum of Utah. To celebrate the series’ fifth anniversary, Widders said a group of four runners that signs up together will only have to pay three registration fees.
"The challenge level is appropriate for someone who has never run on the trails before, but it can also be a really fast workout [for people] who have run on the trails and consider themselves expert runners," Widders said. "We get a big mixed group of people for that reason."
Greene said the incremental increase in racing difficulty helped her conquer her fears of the seemingly insurmountable challenge of a half-marathon.
"I think most people are scared to do half-marathons, it’s just a big number. This really gets you motivated and confident as you do the 5K, 10K, and you know you’re doing it with a group of people," Greene said.
The 5K Trail Race is set for June 21, with the 10K on July 12, the 15K on Aug. 9 and the half marathon on Sept. 20. Runners can register up until the day of the race and can register for all four races to save money. Widders said the 5K is at nearly two-thirds capacity of the 300 total runners for this year.
Greene said the race is a gateway to bigger and better running accomplishments, even for those who are unsure of how to take the first step.
"The course is so much fun and different, you’re not just taking the same step after the same step on the road," she said. "It just keeps you going."
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