Over the past several years, the Cirque Series has quickly become one of the most competitive short-distance mountain race series in the Western United States. Founded in 2015, the series consists of six races hosted by some of the county’s most renowned alpine ski resorts. This year’s venues include Alta, Utah, Brighton, Utah, Alyeska, Alaska, Snowbird, Utah, Arapahoe Basin, Colorado and Targhee, Wyoming.
The challenging but approachable courses range from five to nine miles and 1,800 to nearly 4,000 feet of vertical gain. Over the past 6 years, the Cirque Series courses have earned the reputation among participants as some of the most “real” mountain courses in the country because of their steep climbs, high altitude and rough terrain.
Yesterdays Cirque Series Arapahoe Basin was 7.2 miles with 1910 feet of vertical and the highest elevation of all the courses in the series, beginning at an elevation of 10,780 feet. Runners then ascended the ski resort on a mix of ski service road and single-track trail to reach the summit of Little Lenawee peak just above 12,000 feet. Runners then descended back to the start on a mix of newly developed hiking and mountain biking trails.
This year’s race attracted some of the top trail runners in the West including 2021 Pikes Peak Ascent winners Allie McLaughlin (Colorado Springs, CO) and Joseph Gray (Colorado Springs, CO), as well as many more top elites including former USATF Mountain Running Champion and 2010 Winter Olympian Morgan Arritola (Carbondale, CO), 2014 US Mountain Running Junior Team member Tabor Scholl (Louisville, CO), multi-time US Mountain Running Team member and USATF 1/2 Marathon Trail National Champion Andy Wacker (Boulder, CO), Barr Trail Mountain Race winner Janelle Lincks (Thornton, CO), Chad Hall (San Diego, CA), Eli Hemming (Louisville, CO) and Alex Willis (Leadville, CO).
Gray, who set a course record of 50:38:33 in 2019, took control of the race from the beginning and arrived at the top of the climb in first place. The 2021 course included a slight route change that added .7 miles of singletrack. Gray won the race with a time of 55:10:55, followed closely by Hemming, a past Team USA triathlete transitioning into trail running, who unleashed a strong downhill surge to finish 20 seconds behind Gray. Rounding out the mens’ podium was Hall in 56:08:16.
The women’s’ race was dominated by Lincks aggressive racing style. Lincks, who admitted to struggling with high altitude at the 2021 Pikes Peak Ascent, did not let the elevation affect her today. She finished first in 1:02:24, over three minutes ahead of second place Morgan Arritola. Completing the podium was McLaughlin in a time of 1:10:16:11, who is currently is currently coming off her impressive first and second place Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon “Double.”
See full race results on competitivetiming.com.
The Cirque Series awards prizes to the top three individuals in its three race divisions: Pro, Expert and Sport. Three special prizes are also awarded. See prize details below.
1st place – Janelle Lincks and Joseph Gray ($1000)
2nd place – Morgan Arritola and Eli Hemming ($300)
3rd place – Allie McLaughlin and Chad Hall ($200)
1st – Amelia Shea and Colby Schultz ($400 in Gear)
2nd – Hazel Carr and Tate Knight ($300 in Gear)
3rd – Kacey Doner and Wesley Robinson ($200 in Gear)
1st – Hannah Campbell and Sawyer Lincoln ($300 in Gear)
2nd – Emily Marotta and Samuel Dean ($200 in Gear)
3rd – Johanna Jacobsen and Trevor Willoughby ($100 in Gear)
Grom Award – The youngest competitor wins a prize from On Running.
Lexie Award – The “unofficial MVP” of the race will win a prize from Black Diamond.
Middle of the Pack Award – The person that finished exactly middle will win a prize from Kodiak cakes.
Final Stop On The 2021 Cirque Series
In two weeks, the final Cirque Series race of the 2021 season will be held at Grand Targhee Ski Resort in Wyoming. Following this race, the Cirque Series Pro Division winners will be crowned. Gray and Giselle Slotboom hold the top positions in the series following the Arapahoe Basin race. See full leaderboard standings for the series on RunSignUp.com.