PARK CITY, Utah — Local runner Jason Bryant finished in fifth place in the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase over the weekend.
That was the last race of the La Sportiva Mountain Cup series, and Bryant, Surry Central’s track coach, held back Father Time to finish in fourth place in the season standings.
“I turned 42 on Sunday, so it was good to still be able to compete at high level at this point in life,” said Bryant. He said his wife Allison noted that he was surrounded by 20- and 30-year-olds.
“Some days I’m older and slower,” he said, “some days I’m older but still as fast as 17-year-old me.”
The Mountain Cup series is a schedule of 10 races scattered across the U.S. Bryant has run races in California, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Utah this year.
The top five racers for both the men’s and women’s divisions will receive a payout from a $25,000 purse.
For his fourth-place finish, Bryant will receive a $1,500 prize.
“The last year has definitely been more of a struggle to maintain the physical fitness as I’ve crossed beyond 40,” said Bryant. “It’s also been tough mentally to keep pushing the body when it’s not responding the same and especially not recovering as quickly.”
A few of his fellow runners have begun asking him when he plans to retire.
“I seem unwilling to give in just yet, so I’ll keep fighting,” he said. “I told Alison that I may be becoming like an elder statesman in the trail and mountain running sport.”
Bryant was the only 40+ runner to finish in the top 25 this season.
Bryant said he may be crazy, but he went on a long, leisurely run the day before the race just because he loves getting out and seeing the countryside. Then he stayed an extra day and went for another jog the day after the race.
Going into that final 16-mile steeplechase, Bryant felt like he had a pretty good hold on fourth place for the season.
“I had a nine-point lead on (Bret Ferrier) behind me in fifth going into the race, so I had a little cushion and just needed to finish a place or two behind him,” he said.
“I was able to out-climb him in the first half of the race as the course climbs 3400’ to Jupiter Peak at 10,400’,” he said. While the third-place runner was within reach, he decided not to push himself too hard and was content to maintain his lead over Ferrier to the finish.
“I plan to do a SkyMarathon near Seattle in September and then the USA Trail Marathon Championships in Moab, Utah, in November. I also have the USA 10km Trail Championships here in Laurel Springs in three weeks.”