When you're choosing between a few hours of treadmill time or an afternoon running through the spectacular mountain landscapes, it's a no-brainer for most runners. And, lucky for local runners, Jackson Hole offers plenty of road races and training opportunities from the summer through fall to savor some of the best scenery in the West, with views of the majestic Teton Mountains and wide-open landscapes full of wildlife.
Just ask running coach Eric Orton, who is hosting two running camps in Teton Village this year. "The mountain running in Jackson Hole is world class and unique because there are so many accessible trails that provide a true alpine experience and transplants runners into the heart of the Tetons with views like no other,” he says.
Below, some highlights of what's on docket this summer and fall when it comes to running in Jackson Hole, from races to running-centric events. Lace up your sneakers and get ready to hit the road (or trail).
Tin Cup Challenge, July 18
The Tin Cup Challenge is the major annual fundraiser for many Teton Valley and Idaho nonprofits. This day of family fun includes 5K and 10K races and a 5K fun run and walk. Major donors and local businesses pony up funds to match community members' donations to local nonprofits at this eighth-annual community event.
Snow King Hill Climb, July 25
Head straight uphill at the 47th Annual Snow King Hill Climb Race. The course climbs 1,571 feet over 2.3 miles as racers head from Jackson's Town Square up to the summit of Snow King Mountain. Then, after the race, join in the awards and celebration at Phil Baux Park at the base of Snow King.
Teton Ogre Adventure Race, July 25
This fun multi-sport navigation race offers three different options, including a grueling 15-hour option, a more moderate 7-hour race, and the “easier” 5-hour one. The most advanced route includes mountain biking, paddling, and running/trekking, while the middle-length option skips the paddling component, and the shortest race includes only running/trekking. Enter this race solo, or round up some friends and enter as a team.
Rendezvous Mountain Hill Climb, Aug. 1
This hill climb event is being held in honor of Chris Onufer, who died in a 2012 avalanche. The route includes racing up the Wildflower and Cirque trails at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. All proceeds will go to Teton Trail Runners programs, including scholarships, supporting the high school cross country team, and weekly fun runs.
Epic Cache-Teton Relay, Aug. 7-8
Grab your team of 12 and get ready to run through four different national forests on this interstate route along the Oregon Trail in the Epic Cache-Teton Relay. Start in Logan, Utah and, 205 miles later, end up the next day at the base of the Tetons, passing through the Cache-Wasatch, Caribou, Targhee, and Bridger-Teton National Forests along the way.
Eric Orton's Jackson Hole Running Camp, Aug. 13-15 (and Sept. 17-19)
Looking to get ready for a big race or just want to improve your running technique? Consider signing up for one of Eric Orton's Jackson Hole Running Camps. Orton is a world-renowned running coach and author best known for his work with journalist Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run. Orton helped McDougall train to run with the Tarahumara people of Mexico's Copper Canyons, who run hundreds of miles at a time.
Now in its second year, this multi-day camp offers two sessions: Aug.13-15 is geared toward first-time marathoners, while Sept. 17-19 is for those aiming for an ultra marathon. Both sessions provide personal training and coaching, foundational skills and drills, 2-3 hour runs, and coaching sessions, not to mention the camaraderie that comes from group dinners every night.
What helps make the camps such a high-quality experience? The lifts at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Orton says. “With lift service, I am able to offer this same mountain running experience to runners attending my run camps,” Orton says. “In a matter of minutes, I am able to take runners of all abilities deep into the alpine and give them a once-in-a-lifetime training experience that will reinvent their running and what is possible for their running."
Grand Teton Relay, Aug. 14-15
Invite 5 or 11 of your closest friends and get ready to revel in this relay race from Ashton, Idaho to Jackson. The 180-mile route winds through Island Park and Grand Targhee National Forest. This is the fifth year of this race, and it's already becoming a classic event.
Jackson Hole Marathon, Sept. 5
Marathon runners will love the scenery of the Jackson Hole Marathon, which starts at Jackson's Town Square and finishes in Teton Village. This relatively flat route gains 490 feet and loses 440 feet en route to the Village.
Old Bill's Fun Run, Sept. 12
More than just a race, Old Bill's Fun Run for Charities has raised more than $111 million for local nonprofits since it was first started by an anonymous couple known as Mr. and Mrs. Old Bill nearly 20 years ago. Locals and visitors run or walk in a number of competitive and fun categories and make donations, which businesses and major donors match to support causes like local animal care agencies, conservation programs, and kids' groups in Teton County.
Yellowstone-Teton Endurance Runs, Sept. 19-20
Ultra-marathoners will love this 50 or 100-mile race along the Teton Scenic Byway. Both races finish in Teton Valley, Idaho, but the longer version starts up in West Yellowstone, Montana, while the 50-mile version starts near Mesa Falls.