Jay Batchen is no slouch. (Neither is wife Lisa Smith-Batchen, the only ever person to have run 50 miles in 50 states in 62 days). Jay Batchen has run in the Marathon des Sables, a running stage race that traverses the Sahara, nine times. Nine. Nine times. In total, he’s done upwards of 35 ultra marathons, including the Western States (twice), the Badwater Ultra marathon, the Jungle Marathon, the Desert Cup—Mali, and the Squaw Peak 50.
In addition to running in races and events around the globe, Batchen also organizes races. Even with all this worldly experience Batchen recognizes how beautiful his extended backyard is for running. In 2011, he founded the Jackson Hole Marathon. Also serving as race director, Batchen has scheduled this year’s Jackson Hole Marathon on Sat., August 30th. Over the race’s first three years, roughly 700 runners have crossed its finish line. Batchen expects about 400 in this year’s races, which include a half marathon in addition to the full marathon distance. Racers can also enter as a marathon relay team.
RootsRated: Besides the amazing scenery, what makes the Jackson Hole Marathon special?
Batchen: The clean air, the amazing volunteers, the music, and the goodies from Kate’s Tram Bars and Snake River Brewing at the finish line, and amazing awards created by local artists! The aid station staffed by The Liquor Store is always a big hit.
RR: What kind of runner does well on the course?
Batchen: Generally, runners who can stay focused over the entire 26.2 miles should do well on the Jackson Hole Marathon course. This is due to the limited crowd support. While it is held in a very mountainous area, the course itself has less than 500 feet of elevation gain over the full 26.2 miles, so a lot of hill training is not that necessary.
RR: What are some of your favorite runs around Jackson?
Batchen: For a short trail run, I enjoy running to the top of Snow King Mountain and incorporating the Shade Monkey Trail. For a longer trail run, you really can’t go wrong with the Cache-Game Trail. For a longer paved run, I enjoy using the local pathways and running from the Wilson School to Teton Village or from the Town of Jackson to Moose.
RR: Do you have favorite races leading up to the Jackson Hole Marathon?
Batchen: Any race in the Tetons is a great lead up to the JH Marathon, but the Half Marathon in June is a great choice.
If running on pavement isn’t your thing, RoosRated recommends the Targhee Hill Climb on June 28th. The three-mile course is all uphill. It starts at the base of the resort’s Dreamcatcher chairlift and climbs 1,840 feet to the top of Fred’s Mountain.
For a complete list of summer running races in and around Jackson Hole, visit here.
Our favorites on this list include the Teton Pass Kicker. The only strike against it is that it’s just before the Jackson Hole Marathon. We don’t think running the Pass Kicker’s half marathon less than a week before (it’s August 24) the JH Marathon is considered tapering. But, racing in Saturday August 23’s 25-mile Pass Kicker mountain bike race might be.
Also, if you really love running road races, perhaps you should consider doing the 50- or 100-mile Yellowstone-Teton Races. This is another race organized by Batchen. It starts in West Yellowstone, Montana and has racers running on a beautiful road— it’s officially designated as a Scenic Byway— to Teton Valley, Idaho, on the western side of the Teton Range.