Runners can support the trails they enjoy with 2020 race seriesFeb 17, 2020 11:33AM ● By Josh Wood
The Wasatch Trail Run Series offers long and short courses for runners. (Photo courtesy of Mitt Stewart)
By Joshua Wood | [email protected]
This year, runners can take on local trails and support the nonprofits that protect them. The Wasatch Trail Run Series is back in 2020 with the aim of giving more money to local charities. The organization is encouraging runners to find sponsors for its 2020 Run-a-Thon so they can raise funds for the trails they enjoy.
“Every year we give money to nonprofits,” said Wasatch Trail Run Series founder Mitt Stewart. “Last year we donated over $7,000. I wanted to take it to another level. Our goal is $40,000.” Stewart and his team have already raised over $10,000 thanks to a partnership with Scheels.
The Run-a-Thon is not mandatory for people to take part in the series, but it gives participants a way to support the trails that host the races. The fundraiser was inspired by school walk-a-thon events. Runners are encouraged to ask friends and family to donate money for each race they run. The Wasatch Trail Run Series provides participants with a list of nonprofits they can choose to support.
“A lot of people are already running a lot of races,” Stewart said. “I wanted to leverage that.” Last year’s trail run series averaged 230 people per race. The growth Stewart’s team has seen each year is a reward for the labor of love he started as a way to help runners get more training and more time on local trails.
Nonprofits supported by the series include the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation, Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, Dimple Dell Preservation Community, Corner Canyon Trails Foundation, Continue Mission and Wasatch Adaptive Sports.
“Mitt Stewart it wonderful,” said Cottonwood Canyons Foundation Director Serena Anderson.
Stewart and his team have allocated the funds they raise to nonprofits that help improve and protect the outdoor areas they use for their events. “All of the groups we support are associated with trails and sports,” Stewart said. “Plus, we allow Continue Mission vets to run for free.”
This year is the eighth year Stewart has organized the trail run series. There are 13 races scheduled in 2020 from late March to mid-August. The spring races start in lower elevation locations in the valley like Dimple Dell and Corner Canyon. When the weather warms and the snow melts, the races head to the mountains for venues like Brighton, Solitude and Alta. The high snow totals of a year ago offered the additional challenge of running through snow.
Each race offers long and short courses to accommodate runners with different levels of experience.
In addition to asking runners to help raise funds for local nonprofits, the trail run series partners with businesses to put on the races. These partnerships help Stewart offer gear for runners as well as support for local trails.
Runners can register for individual races, or they can opt for a nine-race package. People can join the 10 Race Jacket Club by running nine races and volunteering for another. There were over 80 participants to earn a Wasatch Trail Run Series Jacket in 2019. “I got to know a lot of people,” Stewart said. “It was really cool.”
Stewart took a year off from organizing the race series in 2018 to attend to family. The increase in participation in 2019 gave him the encouragement he needed to make the bigger fundraising push.
“I’m going to pull out all of the stops to make this a big thing,” Stewart said. “I’m really excited.”