On Saturday, August 6, 2022, a field of 448 runners toed the line at the Cirque Series Snowbird race (above photo: @evanjahnphotography) held at Snowbird ski area near Salt Lake City, Utah. This event was the third of seven races in the series, which are hosted on the steep slopes of world class ski venues including Aleyeska (Alaska), Brighton (Utah), Alta (Utah), Targhee (Wyoming), A-Basin (Colorado), Snowbird (Utah) and the final in Engelberg, Switzerland. This is also the first year the Cirque Series has hosted an international event.
Since its inaugural race in 2015, the series has quickly become one of the most competitive short distance mountain running series in the Western United States. The courses range from five to nine miles and feature 1,800 to nearly 4,000 feet of vertical gain. The courses have earned the reputation among participants as some of the most “real” mountain running courses because of their high altitude, rough terrain, and tendency to always take steeper, more direct routes.
The Cirque Series Snowbird was the longest course in the 2022 series and included two 11,000-foot peaks. The route boasted over 3,566 feet of vertical gain in just 8.7 miles. This year’s event attracted some of the country’s top mountain running specialists including both the male and female record holders at Alaska’s iconic Mount Marathon race, Allie McLaughlin (Colorado Springs, CO) and David Norris (Fairbanks, AK). Other top athletes on the starting line included 2021 Golden Trail National Series Champion Janelle Lincks, 2021 US Spartan National Series “Utah Beast” runner-up Ryan Schadegg, and sub-four minute miler Garrett Corcoran.
In addition to the race, the Cirque series included a vendor village near the starting line with free swag and festivities supporting local and environmental conscious businesses including Kodiak Cakes, BarUEat, Protect Our Winters, Gnarly Nutrition, Lulelemon, Yeti, Ruvi, Leki, Peak State Coffee, Goal Zero and Utah Open Lands among many others.
Pro Division Results
Both the men’s and women’s races were runaway victories for race winners Allie McLaughlin and Christian Allen. Both athletes finished minutes ahead of their nearest competitors. McLaughlin, fresh off of her course record at Mount Marathon this past July showcased her phenomenal climbing and descending abilities to set a new Cirque Series Snowbird course record of 1:26:56, placing seventh overall. McLaughlin described her race experience, “As soon as I hit the last few miles of downhill I felt like I was on the home stretch. I felt so well prepared for running fast downhill after my experience at Mount Marathon.”
Allen, an accomplished NCAA Division 1 XC athlete for Weber State University and recent transfer to Brigham Young University, expertly handled the rough terrain and used his sub-28:30 10-Kilometer track speed to pull away from the field to a solo victory. Allen, a newcomer to trail running, admitted that his first Cirque Series event (2021 Cirque Series Alta) was a major learning experience and opened his eyes to the unique challenges of trail running as compared to college cross country and track and field, “I did the Cirque Series Alta last year and got slapped! I went out too hard, felt altitude sickness and it was one of the most painful climbs I’ve ever done. I just tried to hang on for dear life! It was also great to have some of the country’s top mountain runners like Joseph Gray and Joseph Demoor in the race, pushing the pace.”
Allen used his learning experience at Alta last year to run an incredible 1:17:10 on the Snowbird course this year, just narrowly missing the course record set in 2021 by sponsored Salomon runner and accomplished nordic skier, Sam Hendry.
One of the pre-race favorites, David Norris (who has been nursing an ankle injury from a bike accident earlier this year), though second to the summit, dropped a few places on the downhill and finished in sixth overall in 1:25:47. Norris admitted after the race that he had to slow his pace on the downhills, which aggravated his injury. Similarly, sponsored inov8 athlete, Janelle Lincks, has been overcoming knee issues for the past several months, but placed second to McLaughlin and eighth overall in the Pro Division.
Lincks, a multi-time Cirque Series race winner (2021 Cirque Series A-Basin and 2022 Cirque Series Brighton Champion) shared her thoughts on why she chooses to race Cirque Series events and what makes them unique mountain running races, “I like Cirque Series races because they’re shorter and there aren’t many opportunities to race in beautiful high alpine terrain like this on courses less than ten miles. I love getting to experience beautiful places without having to run a marathon to do it!”
Cirque Series Pro Division races award the following prize purse to the top three male and female athletes: 1st: $1,000, 2nd: $500, 3rd: $300
Cirque Series races are also listed in the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) rankings, which offers additional incentive for elite athletes to compete for points in the series to improve their WMRA ranking.
Top 3 Women
- Allie McLaughlin, 31, Colorado Springs, CO 1:26:56
- Janelle Lincks, 28, Steamboat Springs, CO 1:33:23
- Amber Andrews, 37, Orem, UT 1:40:51
Top 3 Men
- Christian Allen, 24, Provo, UT 1:17:10
- Rylan Schadegg, 24, Ogden, UT 1:20:31
- Garrett Corcoran, 26, Salt Lake City, UT 1:21:24
Link to full results at: https://runsignup.com/Race/Results/22184/#resultSetId-331426;perpage:2000
Find a full schedule of the 2022 Cirque Series Races on our event calendar.
For even more epic mountain running photos from Cirque Series Snowbird check out the following photographer galleries:
#2: @matoutdor: https://matoutdor.pic-time.com/-cirqueseriessnowbird2022/gallery
#3: @evanjahnphotography: https://evanjahnphotography.pic-time.com/-cirqueseriesbrightonphotos/gallery
#5: @rach4thesky: https://rachelross.pic-time.com/-aug62022snowbirdcirqueseries/gallery
#6: @flyaltenes: https://benaltenesmedia.pic-time.com/-snowbirdcirque2022/gallery
#7: @_jcephotography_: https://clients.jcephotography.net/Sports/2022/Cirque-Series-Snowbird/
Please location tag: @snowbird
Please tag: @cirqueseries