In less than two weeks Sun Valley will once again host the Discrete Cirque Series on the slopes of Bald Mountain.
Billed as "the premiere mountain running series in the United States," the Cirque Series includes races at iconic ski resorts in Utah, one at Colorado's Arapahoe Basin, and for the truly dedicated, one in Alaska.
Sun Valley might be the toughest race. At 9.5 miles, it's the longest course in the series and has the most vertical gain during the climb to the top of Bald Mountain. The first part of the course goes directly up the ski run.
"Sun Valley is an amazing community, but the course is optimal because you climb over 3,400 vertical feet in our race—the views are 360 from the summit," said Julian Carr, the man behind the series. "[It's] super hard, super beautiful and we can't wait for year two!"
Last year's inaugural race had a few mishaps, including a last-minute course reroute for trail maintenance that added nearly 2 miles. In 2018, the overall winner was Wood River Valley-native Ben Stout, and the 2018 women's winner was Ketchum local Morgan Arritola, a member of the USA Mountain Running Team. She currently leads the series, having won two Utah races in 2019.
Racers are divided among three different divisions, giving beginners the chance to earn some swag. Hundreds of dollars of gear is given away in each division, and prizes are awarded to the youngest racer, king and queen of the hill, and whoever finishes in the middle of the field.
Sun Valley-area locals can stay keyed into the Cirque Series' social media feeds (@cirqueseries). The organizers drop off substantial prize bags on a nearby mountain top in the days leading up to the race, adding an extra incentive to get in a last-minute training run.