“We want this race to be a challenge and we want people to continue to set goals and get here and crush them, but just know this race is tough.” – Karl Meltzer
If you are a runner, you probably have a race and training agenda that is determined by what you consider A list races. These are the races that get most of your attention and time as an athlete. Today we are talking about a highly prestigious race that is considered by many as a bucket list race. The race we are discussing today is the Speedgoat 50k and the Speedgoat himself, Karl Meltzer, has sat down to give us the inside scoop on the course, it’s history, and what makes Speedgoat so legendary. The Speedgoat 50k is a 31 mile journey through Snowbird Ski Resort which is located in Northern Utah.
How did the Speegoat 50k come to be?
Karl: Alright, well the race itself is 12 years old. The events director at Snowbird ran into me where I used to work; I had ran a race that he put on about a month before that and I just told him I bet if we put on a race I could find the people who would want to be involved, he was eager to come on board. This would have been back in March of 2006 so it took us pulling some things together to make it happen but we did luckily and ended up with 112 people on the starting line the first year. The idea for the race came to be during that year, throughout the years it has seen growth and change but were at a really good place with it currently.
What was in mind when you created the race?
Karl: The idea was to make it hard of course, and yeah there is plenty of hard races out there but we actually really focused on making this race tough. That was a main theme during the creation process. Going along with how it came to be I mean that really was the main thoughts, now it’s a race that is on lots of peoples bucket lists so that’s really exciting. I just can’t believe it’s 12 years already you know? Time goes by awfully fast.
How did you guys come up with the route?
Karl: It was actually different at first. We weren’t able to use all the terrain that we can use now, back in those times we were only able to use part of Snowbird and as a result our course was more contrived, a couple out and backs, a twist around and it was very confusing and that caused for some major headaches at the beginning. In the early days nobody really complained about the course but we definitely knew it was going to develop over time so we worked on cleaning it up for a couple years. After some time we had access to a whole separate side of Snowbird that gave us like an extra 12-13 miles, it was at that point we were able to put together a course that ran a lot smother. The last 3-4 years we have had the same course and I don’t see it changing at this point. I worked up there for 15 years and I knew those trails better than most so the point that it is at now is sufficient you know? i needed it to be on difficult terrain and wanted to bring something unique to the table compared to what was available for most races out there; I just used my knowledge of the mountain to create a nightmare.
What makes the Speedgoat 50k so unique?
Karl: Well the first thing is it has 12,000 feet of climb. I’m not sure if there are any other 50k races in the country that have that much climb. I know there are some routes that are pretty gnarly, but in terms of a competitive race there really isn’t another one that compares to the Speedgoat. I wanted this race to be difficult not only from a terrain perspective but also from a mental aspect. By that I mean there will be places on the course where you think you’re going to go down, but then make a sudden right and go straight up or something like that. You may see the finish line but the trail zigzags around and you may still have another mile to go (Karl chuckles). I make sure we style people out at our aid stations, we try to go above and beyond with pineapples and strawberries and things that you never really see at aid stations. I also make sure you don’t just get a ticket for 1 piece of pizza you know, I make sure everybody eats. It’s the overall experience of the race itself that sets it apart from any others currently available, once you come and participate for yourself it all makes sense.
What are some future goals for the Speedgoat race?
Karl: So we have 2 races now which are the 50k and 25k. The max amount of people we can have out on the trails are 700 and to be honest with you I am really happy with where it is right now. The race is a well oiled machine and it’s reputation has developed into exactly what I wanted it to become. I think if we can just continue to build our reputation I will be very happy.
What advice would you have for runners who have never run Speedgoat before?
Karl: It shouldn’t be your first 50k. I always say that and people show up and they’re like “that was insane” and I always say “I warned you”. My advice is don’t think about the clock because this course will eat you alive in terms of time. You may think you can do a 50k in 6 hours and you come to this one and it takes you 9 1/2 and you’re like “what the hell happened?” When I say the race is hard.. I mean it’s tough and that mental aspect of it is hard too. We want this race to be a challenge and we want people to continue to set goals and get here and crush them and look for improvement the following year.
The Speedgoat 50k and 25k are races that will test your limits. The challenge is what keeps us running, and that is what keeps people going back to the Speedgoat year after year. Good luck to everyone running and let me know in the comments below about your Speedgoat expereince!
Learn more about the Speedgoat races: Race Info