Pro skier Julian Carr has made a living pushing the limits of his sport, starring in ski movies for the better part of a decade and jumping some of the highest cliffs ever attempted by a skier without the assistance of a parachute.
But now, instead of throwing himself off of iconic peaks the Salt Lake City, native is trying to push a growing contingent of wilderness runners up them. On Aug. 9, Carr kicks off a brand new mountain running series in his backyard.
The Discrete Peak Series is a Wasatch Range-based race series designed to fill a void in the trail running world featuring short, steep and technical courses rather than longer ultra races and obstacle courses.
Relatively new to the sport of mountain running, Carr has his eyes on creating a brand new trail running culture, one that mirrors the tight-knit community of the ski world, while providing some challenging race courses along the way.
With the help of friends in the local outdoors community, he has assembled a four-race season that kicks off at the Alta Ski Area.
GrindTV tracked down Carr to learn a little more about his unique race series and why a professional skier decided it was his turn to leave his mark on the mountain running world.
How did you get into trail running?
Julian Carr:Two years ago I got a dog, so I stopped mountain biking and started hiking. Around the same time, I started running Mt. Olympus [outside of Salt Lake City]. It was pretty brutal and unrelenting, but I got committed to that.
By the next September, I felt so good, physically, that I was in better shape going into my ski training regimen than I was getting out of it.
Where did the mountain running series idea come from?
My buddy's wife invited me to a trail run race down in Moab — six miles and 1400' elevation gain. I was stoked on it, I wanted to do more, but I looked on Google for mountain running races under 10 miles and solid elevation gain and couldn't find anything.
It was all a Spartan Run [obstacle race] or a crazy ultra race. Right then I knew I wanted to create a peak race series in the Wasatch.
I presented the idea to Discrete, and everybody in the room thought it was awesome. The last few months we've been putting it together.
Can you tell us a little about the first race?
You're going to start at the base of Alta, you're going to have a killer single track and dynamic climb up Mt. Baldy, and then scramble back down and run back down to the finish line. There's a serious sense of accomplishment there.
It's short, but it's brutal.
What is the race series format?
This year we have four races — Alta on Aug. 9, Snowbird on Sept. 5, Crested Butte Sept. 13 and Deer Valley Sept. 19.
Each race is between five and 10 miles long, with an elevation gain of 2,500 to 4,000 feet. The course is marked and requires both an ascent and descent.
It's a best three out of four format, and we will have overall awards. Our prize money is fantastic, $1000 for both top male and female.
You’re a skier, why is this type of racing ideal for what you do?
In skiing your hiking up mountains a lot to access your goods. The idea of getting punished on the uphill is definitely in the back of my mind, but it's also the idea of confidently assessing your terrain — paying attention and being quick on your feet.
This type of race is not only challenging muscles and lungs, your agility is being tested. You are constantly making acute movements and the vision and coordination keeps your mind super active.
Are there any notable names turning up for it?
We have some pretty accomplished runners signing up for this. Big-time trail runners like Emma Garrard, John Tribbia and Brett Hales are already signed up, as are pro skiers and mountain athletes like Todd Ligare, Kalen Thorien and Brody Leven.
What else can people expect from this event?
We want to embrace this emerging mountain running culture. It's vibrant, but so far it has been a ton of people that do it on their own. It's great to have your alone time with the mountain, but that doesn't mean this all has to be a solo thing.
After the race we're going to have a bluegrass concert at the bottom, a vendor village, vans, food and beer.
The start times are at 3 p.m., so most people will finish between 5 or 6:30 p.m., and it'll be prime après hour. People are going to finish in a scene that promotes hanging out. These other trail run races are at 8 in the morning, so when you're done they go about the rest of the day. We're trying to celebrate this culture. The best thing about it, just like skiing, is wrapping up and having a beer with your buddies.
To learn more about the Discrete Peak Series or to register for races, visit the race series home page.
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