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Three weeks after the Xterra Wolf Mountain 10k, Jaymie Hirschi still struggled to find words to describe the grueling trail race. Well, printable words.
"Do you want me to use curse words or not?" she asked.
Even after completing the race and the 180-mile Wasatch Back Relay last weekend, Hirschi didn't quite get her fill of extreme running. So she, along with about 80 other trail runners, will take it to the hills Saturday for the third-annual Xterra Snowbird Challenge 8K trail run.
And they'll face some brutal climbs in the process.
The race is the second of a four-event series sponsored by Nissan across some of the most scenic routes of the Wasatch Front this spring and summer. In the first event, held June 7 at Wolf Mountain Resort in Eden, competitors were greeted by pouring rain and extremely muddy conditions.
For Hirschi, the course offered more than a few obstacles. As she made her way across two riverbeds, fallen trees, and thick sludge, she began to question her sanity.
"I told a friend running with me that we'd made a huge mistake," she said.
It only got worse from there.
With less than a mile to go, runners could see the finish line in the distance, but the trail was not through with them.
"The course was either straight up or straight down. There was no flat," said Hirschi. "Even when I could see the finish, we had to go back up. It was definitely a false sense of security."
However, Saturday's race may prove to be the toughest of the series.
Race director John Wojciechowski of the Striders Running Company in Layton is known for putting together some of the most challenging racing circuits in the state - and the XTERRA Trail Run series will prove to be no exception.
"All I know is if [Wojciechowski] put it together, it's going to be a climb," said Hirschi. "He could find easier courses, but he likes to put us through it."
The course begins at 7,000 feet and, thanks to the late onset of summer, will still be covered with about a foot of snow toward the peak. In the few spots where the snow has melted, mud will be in its place, presenting the runners with a messy - and perhaps treacherous - course.
The race essentially takes runners straight up the ski hill. It boasts two separate 1,000-foot elevation climbs over the 8-kilometer course.
"The runners will have some bushwhacking to do for the first two miles," said Wojciechowski. "Not to mention about a foot of snow, mud, and slush."
At the halfway point, the runners will meet their first challenge in a 1,000-foot climb over a half-mile span. Competitors will eventually reach a breath-challenging 9,000-foot elevation before making their way back down the inlet trail to the tram at the base of Snowbird Ski Resort.
"It's definitely more challenging than your typical road race," said Emily McIlvaine, an event promoter. "If they do happen to hit a bit of pavement, it's right back up into the forest. We make sure to keep it off-roads."
Race participants accumulate points based on their performance in each race and, at the end of the series, the runner with the most points will win a free entry to the National Trail Running Championship in Bend, Ore., on Sept. 27.
For most, however, the challenge of conquering the trail is enough motivation.
"We keep telling people how horrible these races are," said Hirschi. "But, when they ask if we are going to do the next one we say, 'Well, yeah! Of course!' Afterward you feel a sense of accomplishment. Plus, it gives you a little bit of a horror story to tell to your friends."
* The Snowbird Challenge 8-kilometer run is Saturday at the ski resort up Little Cottonwood Canyon.
* The race begins at 8 a.m.