The Wasatch Front 100 also known as "100 miles of heaven and hell", is one of the most uniquely challenging ultrarunning events in the world. This prestigious 100 mile endurance run is the culminating event in the Grand Slam of Ultra-Running series. It is held in Utah the first Friday and Saturday after Labor Day each year and is an event the team at Strambecco considers one of the Best Trail Running Events in the Southwest. What sets the event apart in its 40+ years, is the mind boggling difficulty, natural beauty, and camaraderie between runners, organizers, and volunteers hasn't changed since its inception in 1980 when two of five runners completed the event.
Event & Course Info
The Wasatch Front 100 stands as a distinctively challenging ultrarunning event globally, marking the pinnacle of the Grand Slam of Ultra-Running series. Beginning at East Mountain Wilderness Park, Utah, and culminating at Soldier Hollow, Utah, it showcases the breathtaking vistas of the Wasatch Mountains. Runners endure an elevation gain of about 24,000 feet and a descent of around 23,300 feet. This premier race is more than a test of speed—it's a testament to resilience in the face of contrasts: high peaks vs deep valleys, firm trails vs loose scree, fluctuating temperatures, varying terrains, and the oscillation between day and night. The course's raw, remote nature magnifies its allure and difficulty, compelling runners to lean heavily on their inner strength over the race's support systems. The essence of Wasatch goes beyond distance—it embodies overcoming, adapting, and persisting.
This point-to-point race winds through the core of the central Wasatch Mountains, a picturesque segment of the Rockies. Starting at East Mountain Wilderness Park in Kaysville, Utah, it surges south, climbing a staggering 4,200 feet in 4.4 miles. The journey progresses past iconic landmarks like Francis Peak, Farmington Flats, Big Mountain Pass, Desolation Lake, and Pole Line Pass, eventually weaving down to Pot Hollow Canyon. Following the Cummings Parkway dirt road, it meanders south to Cascade Springs Road and plunges through Decker Canyon. The trail then embraces the Deer Creek Reservoir Trail, guiding runners to the finish at Soldier Hollow's Pavilion in Wasatch Mountain State Park.
The track is a mix of footpaths, wildlife trails, and dirt roads with sporadic pavement patches, ranging from altitudes of 5,000 to 10,480 feet. Although predominantly on well-defined trails, segments through sagebrush, scree, tall grasses, and cobblestones are frequent. Wildlife encounters have included deer, elk, and even mountain lions.
Safety and sustenance are paramount for endurance races like the Wasatch Front 100 and organizers ensures this through a series of aid stations: Daytime Stations: expect water, electrolyte drinks, fruits, salty items, and most likely, soda. Nighttime Stations: apart from water and electrolyte drinks, you'll find hot drinks, salty items, and possibly soda. Crossover Stations: These are equipped with all items from both daytime and nighttime stations. Specialty Aid Stations: Locations like Desolation Lake and Rock Springs are hike-in stations. Given the logistical challenges, these will offer water, electrolyte drink, and a limited array of supplies. Depending on the station, runners might also find soup, potatoes, sandwiches, sweets, pasta, and breakfast items. Runners can also have their drop bags transported to seven major aid stations and the finish line.
Runners are discouraged from leaving cars at the start due to limited parking. Complimentary bus services are available from downtown Salt Lake City for those requiring transportation to the start. Post-race, while there's no direct bus service back to Salt Lake, mini-vans are available, though they're best considered a Plan B due to limited seating.
It's recommended that runners prepare for the unpredictable particularly in regards to the weather. Past races have seen temperatures from a chilling 25°F to a sweltering 90°F. Whether it's unexpected snowfall, heatwaves, or low visibility due to rain and clouds, the Wasatch Front 100 has seen it all. Utah's low humidity can also lead to dehydration if runners aren't careful.
Only those in top physical condition should consider this grueling event. Knowledge of basic first-aid is essential. Understanding symptoms and treatments for heat exhaustion, hypothermia, frostbite, and altitude sickness is crucial. Some stretches between aid stations exceed nine miles, so self-sufficiency is paramount.
Entry is selective and only granted to those who can demonstrate successful ultrarunning experience or its equivalent. Securing a spot is through a lottery. Applications open on December 1st, closing typically by the first week of January. The lottery draw usually takes place on January's last Saturday. The Race Committee emphasizes pre-race familiarity with the course, and entrants are also obligated to commit 8 hours of trail work.
Area Accommodations & Things to Do
There is no official host hotel for the event, however Salt Lake City being a large city offers a wide array of options, and any accommodation within two or three blocks of 50 West 500 South in Salt Lake City will make it convenient to walk to the buses taking runners to the start line on race day at 4am. For those that prefer a home-like experience, there many vacation rentals available near this area as well, from urban bungalows to industrial apartments. Other nearby areas to look include Midway or Herber City.
Salt Lake City's culinary scene is a vibrant fusion of traditional flavors and contemporary innovation, where farm-to-table eateries coexist with diverse international cuisines, reflecting the city's evolving cultural tapestry. From gourmet bistros to buzzing food trucks, the city offers a gastronomic journey that resonates with both its historic roots and modern influences. Be sure to check out Eater's list of essential Salt Lake City restaurants to visit pre-race or to refuel after the epic beatdown.
Salt Lake City, with its breathtaking landscapes and proximity to a myriad of natural wonders, becomes an outdoor athlete's paradise, especially in the summertime. One of the local favorites, Mill Creek Canyon, offers an array of mountain biking trails that cater to bikers of all levels. The canyon, located just a few miles from downtown, boasts a unique feature: it has specific days designated for uphill-only bike traffic, ensuring a safe and thrilling descent without the worry of oncoming cyclists. "Pipeline Trail" is particularly popular, offering bikers an intermediate ride with panoramic views of the Salt Lake Valley.
Hiking the Bell's Canyon Trail to the Upper Falls is another popular activity - a moderately challenging trail, Bell's Canyon leads to the stunning Upper Falls, offering a rewarding view after a good workout. The trail is approximately 5 miles round trip, with a mix of steady inclines and level areas, making it accessible for both seasoned hikers and those looking for a slightly challenging trek. As you ascend, keep an eye out for the Lower Reservoir, a serene spot that's perfect for a mid-hike break.
Finally, just a short drive from Salt Lake City, Big Cottonwood Canyon is a mecca for rock climbers. Its quartz monzonite cliffs offer a plethora of routes for all skill levels. Beginners can try their hands at the popular "Challenge Buttress," while more experienced climbers might venture to areas like the "Hellgate Cliffs." The canyon's cool summer temperatures and shaded climbs make it a haven during the hotter months.
The Wasatch Front 100 is the final race of the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, a series of five races representing the oldest and most prestigious 100-mile races contested in the US. The series includes the Old Dominion 100 in Virginia, Western States 100 in California, the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run, Leadville Trail 100 in Colorado, and the Wasatch Front. To be eligible for the award, participants must officially complete three of the four first Grand Slam Series races and then complete the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run, all in the same summer. The Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run is the series' final race and is mandatory. You must apply for all the races you plan to run during their open registration period. This includes the Wasatch 100.
There are many other premiere trail running events in the state of Utah that at Strambecco we consider to be best-in-class, including Bryce Canyon Ultras a Vacation Races event which is a qualifier for both the UTMB World Series and the Western States 100 - as well as Tushars Mountain Runs from Aravaipa Running.
For multi-sport athletes, check out other top-shelf events taking place in Utah, such as Utah-Cache Gran Fondo a GFNS Partner Event and a UCI Worlds qualifier or Gran Fondo Moab part of the Transrockies Race Series , both are considered some of the Best Road Cycling Events in the Southwest. Gravel cyclists will appreciate Belgian Waffle Ride Utah by Monuments of Cycling which is also part of the Quadrupel Crown of Gravel Series, while mountain bikers will want to put 25 Hours in Frog Hollow on their bucket list, it's organized by GRO Races and is part of the epic N24 Series. Be sure to check out our full list of Strambecco's Best in Class gravel and mountain biking events in Utah and the broader Southwest region.