Saturday, July 23, 2011

Snow King Hill Climb Run 2011

Snow King Hill Climb 2011

Jackson Hole and the Tetons on an early morning training run from top of Snow King
The 44th annual Snow King Hill Climb was today Saturday, July 23rd.  The race is a longstanding event that has tested the guts of many athletes, runners, hikers, tourists, and visitors that come just for the race.
Snow King I believe is the third ski resort to open to skiers in the United States. Sun Valley, Idaho was the first in 1936. In Utah, Alta quickly followed suit in 1938. Snow King was next in 1939. Snow King is Jackson Hole’s in town ski area. The opening of a rope tow at Snow King in 1939 marked the first ski area in Wyoming. In 1946 Snow King added a chairlift that took skiers to the top of the mountain. A lift ticket cost $2.95 for a full day of skiing.

Looking up from bottom of Snow King
It was nineteen years later that the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort opened in 1965. The aerial tram was operating by 1966 to the top of Peak 10,450.
The Snow King Hill Climb attracted 101 racers or Hill Climbers. A great turn out for a very tough event. The running race is part of the 2011 Run to the Summit Series which includes 3 area Hill Climb races culminating in 12 miles and over 7,500 feet of elevation gain. All three Hill Climb events are at the local ski resorts – Grand Targhee, Snow King, and JHMR’s Rendezvous Mountain Hill Climb.
Looking down towards bottom of Snow King and Town Square from near top
Today’s race started at 9 a.m.under perfect Wyoming blue skies. It was the second race of the three part series. I had placed 4th at Grand Targhees’ Wrun for Wray on June 25th. I decided to try a new tactic for my own race today. I have always been inspired by Steve Prefontaine and his incredible talent and guts. I was reaching a bit for extra motivation when I found a new quote of his; it quickly became my motto for the day. “The best pace is a suicide pace and today’s a good day to die”. It fit perfect for me. Steve Prefontaine was a “front-runner” and liked to give it his all from the very start of a race. Not wanting to wait for the race to unfold, but to give it all he had from the start. I was game to try this exact theory. I have many times not gone out full tilt watching and letting others break wind. Today it was my turn to try.

Steep Switchbacks

Loose terrain and steep
approached and quickly runners took the front line spots. I was a bit tardy on line up as I was talking with friends from out of town. But, I got up to the third row. The gun sounded and the shoes were kicking and flying through the air. After 20-30 seconds I was in about 6th place, it wasn’t all my effort as I had promised myself. I looked for an opening and quickly was behind the leader, again I had more to give and took off into the lead and stretched it far enough that I couldn’t hear the others behind me. I looked back over my shoulder and saw the attackers staring me down. I held on for the ½ mile sprint to the bottom of the steepness. Quickly, a few runners went by me as I was in oxygen debt. I stayed focused and kept after the climb. A few more runners went by before the first switchback. From this point on only one runner passed me and I swapped places with another on the entire climb. The top finisher was fast and was only a second from the 44 year record. I was pleased with my effort and my tactics, I tried to be Pre, and was honored to have “front-run” for part of the race. I finished in 10th place out of the 101 entries and was fairly happy with my time and results. I had run the course faster earlier in the week, but that is racing, you take what you give on race day and don’t complain, at least that’s my theory. The top guns deserve credit for their incredible performance.
Chris Kroger, Pete Swenson, Jaime Falcon

Top 10
Partial Results 2011 Snow King Hill Climb