Posted: 16/09/2015 at 22:16
How to get a place
Admission to the Wasatch Front 100 is by lottery, with applications being taken starting in December. The lottery offers reasonably high chances of success, with many runners managing multiple entries. With many people who have completed the slam, naming this as their favourite race of the series, it ought to be a lot more popular with British ultra-runners. Applications start in December, and applicants are required to make a payment up front, but British applicants are currently allowed to defer payment until after the lottery is drawn. Upon being accepted through the lottery, payment is made via a website of one of the event sponsors. This year I was the only UK runner to be drawn. Successful applicants are required to complete eight hours of trail work for the Forest Service, but owing to the difficulty for British runners to do this, the organisers will typically accept eight hours of work for a local charity. The event organisers address any queries submitter to their Facebook Page, in a very prompt manner.
Salt Lake City as a travel destination
Salt Lake City is situated about 1300 metres above sea level, which aids acclimatisation to altitude prior to the race. It is a bit like an American version of Davos, in that it is encircled by mountains, yet still has all the amenities of a major city. It is a mecca for skiers and snowboarders in the winter and hikers in the summer. There are a number of 3000 metre peaks close to the city, which you can ascend to help with altitude acclimatisation. You have to pay for a cable car ride to the top of the local peaks, but the ride down is free. This makes it tempting to hike to the summit, and get a free ride down. The public transport service in Salt Lake City is sketchy, and locals use a mobile phone app called Uber, to organise lifts from other people. Your best bet might be just to hire a car for the duration of your stay. The local people are incredibly friendly, and I had no trouble finding people willing to crew for me, and pace me. The City has a number of major attractions, so it would not be inhumane to subject a non-running family member to a visit. Flights to Salt Lake City from Heathrow currently require at least one change, but Delta airlines will be running direct flights from next year.
The Wasatch course
The Wasatch Front 100 is a bit of a beast, with nigh on 8000 metres of cumulative ascent, and a number of points more than 3000 metres above sea level. The course carries a lot more vegetation than other high altitude races such as UTMB, and other American mountain races. Presumably this is because heat rising off the surrounding salt flats, allows the tree line to reach higher. Either way, it gives the course a distinctively wild look, compared to other mountain races. Even the checkpoints have fantastic names, such as Big Mountain, and Lake Desolation. The total ascent is closer to Lakeland 100 than UTMB, but the individual ascents are more like UTMB. By far the worst climb of the course is the one encountered in the first 14 miles, which takes you from the lowest point of the course to the highest in a single climb, and is a pretty sharp ascent. It is called the chin scraper for good reason. The course is pretty technical in places, and every section seems to be distinctively different. Most of the more challenging sections of the course occur in the first half, with a few notable exceptions, and it is fairly common for finishers to manage an even split in this race. Pole use is less prevalent than in European races such as UTMB, but the local runners who live and train in the mountains, will make quick work of you on the uphill sections, even if you have poles and they don’t.&nbs