For the second year in a row, I found myself staring up at the Olympic ski jump in Park City, Utah. I had signed up once again for Chris Spealler’s Mountain Meltdown – a hybrid between a 5k and a Crossfit competition. With just over 1,000 ft. in elevation gain, 5 workouts, and over 700 stairs to sprint up, Crossfit Park City teamed up for a second year with Progenex, Rogue Fitness, Skullcandy, and Reebok to encore one of the best races in Utah. I had enjoyed my time so much the previous year that I signed up without hesitation.
However, when the first workout was announced – sprint to the top of an Olympic ski jump for time – I nearly backed out of the race. Does anyone really enjoy climbing stairs? If you answered “yes,” you need help. The course was still technically a 5k, and there were still only 5 workouts to be completed, but unlike the previous year, we had to sprint up over 700 steps with an evaluation climb of approximately 800 ft. I thought, “it can’t be that bad. People do it all the time.” No, they don’t. With a loose time cap of 90 minutes, I was worried that the first workout would take at least half of my allotted time.
Never underestimate adrenaline. When the timer went off, we were up that ski jump in, well, five minutes. After one of the worst lung-burning climbs I’ve ever experienced, we were directed to the second workout: 3 rounds of 14 wall ball squats and 7 burpee pull-ups. Never before have burpees felt like a rest period. I like my burpees to be the worst part of a race, please and thank you!
One of my favorite sections of the race followed after the second workout when the competitors ran the 2002 Olympic bobsled track. How often do you get to run a bobsled track, let alone one used during the Olympics? My guess is not that often, so I relished the opportunity even with temperatures rising and a winding trek back to the top of the mountain.
One new addition to the race was the route to the finish line. Last year the entire 5k was run on paved roads, but this year found competitors sprinting down a dirt road through the trees, and on to the final workout before crossing the finish line. Not only was this route easier on the knees, the view was stunning; looking out over the Park City valley and beyond. I loved the surprise of a good trail run, and I hope to see more off-road portions next year.
Even though I’m on the fringe of both the OCR and Crossfit communities, I continue to dip my toes in these types of competitions because of the people. Whether it’s running up a luge track, suffering through the workout stations, or pulling a sled across the finish line, there was no shortage of supporters cheering for the athletes. Where else can you find that type of atmosphere and goodwill towards your fellow competitors? It’s the reason I continue to push the boundaries of my comfort zone and sign up for these crazy races!
Speaking of people, the staff and volunteers were among the best I’ve ever seen, and they helped the race run smoothly for all involved. Chris Spealler knows how to put on an event, and after eight years of competitive Crossfitting, his experience shows in the little details of the Mountain Meltdown. From an easy registration process, to the incredible SWAG, the Park City Mountain Meltdown is a fantastic race for anyone looking to challenge themselves. I am looking forward to 2016’s race, even if I have to climb another 700 stairs to get there.