Peter Esko: Running Beyond Limits

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Peter Esko, 34, has been a consistent runner for the past 12 years. Living in Salt Lake City gives him quite a variety of different running trails to explore. While he does most of his running on the road, trail running adds soft surface miles to a training week and help him stay injury free.

Trail running is a great escape for Esko as it’s his time to explore, not worry about looking at the time, and no music. While some prefer to have music, for Esko it’s all just about exploring. When being on the trails with no distractions, the focus isn’t on a music playlist or any technology for that matter. The senses are more aware to the nature and views surrounding a trail run. And the fact that the surfaces vary, it gives your body an escape from the constant repetition of road running and lower impact forces, which in turn helps build more strength in the muscles that help stabilize the lower leg. Trail running just pounds your body less, and there are normally a lot more short kicker hills. Each run has a bit of a hill repeat sort of element to it, sort of like a hill fartlek (Swedish for “speed play” and means a training method that blends continuous training with interval training).

Balancing running into life can get tricky for Peter. With a 4-year-old, a full-time job, and a fair amount of freelance design work, he tries to carve out the time for runs where he can. His relationship with his treadmill has become a little more prominent than he’d like with the daily grind keeping him from a whole lot of running outside, but he tries to get out as much as possible. The flipside of the career, family and freelance work is that he can get a bit obsessed with workouts, times and PRs which leads to driving his wife a bit crazy, so he does his best to find that happy medium in a world where many of us wish we had more time in the day to get things done.

Peter’s key achievements include running the Boston Marathon twice. His current PR is 3:00:29. He’s still in search of that last 30 seconds to break three hours, but there’s no doubt that it’ll come. In addition to the Boston Marathon, he’s also done two marathons in Chicago, one in Philadelphia and one in Paris. He’s currently training for another run in Chicago in October. Esko has run many half marathons with a 1:21:12 PR at the Provo Halloween Half and several other small races.

As with many runners, Peter is a big fan of the Salt Lake Running Company. The Salt Lake Running Company knows how to keep the runners happy, and the staff is comprised of some of the most enthusiastic and accomplished runners around. This is a comfort for the runners that go in there as they can pretty much ask any question when it comes to running, and the staff will give you a knowledgeable answer and not just a guess. He’s also a big fan of the Salt Lake Track Club and really enjoys the Winter Racing Series. The Winter Racing Series is a 3-race series that includes a 5K, 10K and 15K held out at the Great Saltair in Magna. Esco also runs with a few people from the group ‘Runegades’ from time-to-time.

Peter has several favorite places to run around the Salt Lake Valley. He has some standard routes that stay in the Sugarhouse area that he enjoys as well as Liberty Park and Sugarhouse Park. City Creek Canyon is an amazing area for both road miles and trail access, and City Creek has a connection to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail that is easily accessible. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail is a common playground for many runners. With just over 100 miles on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, there are plenty of miles to cover for running. It is a popular mountain biking trail as well, so you can imagine how busy it can get. He enjoys Millcreek to the overlook up the Desolation Trail, a few spinoffs from there, and the Dog Lake Trails well.

Park City is another area Esko loves to run with the Wasatch Crest Trails, and with a great reason. Take caution on the Wasatch Crest Trails as this is also a mountain biking playground. Also known as the Wasatch’s crown jewel, this trail is for the expert trail runner. The distance of the trail is 20 miles roundtrip and kicks off with the difficult ‘Puke Hill’. The epic views at the top are some of the most indulgent landscape in the range as runners run along the ridgeline between Big Cottonwood Canyon and Park City. Bikers have a tendency to think the runners are nuts on the Wasatch Crest Trail.

“You can go further than you think. You are stronger than you know.”

This is a quote Esko has heard in different variations, but it’s a great quote in that we truly don’t realize how strong we are until we push ourselves beyond that boundary we’ve set for ourselves. Think of it in the way of some of the things people do under immense adrenaline-rush situations. Almost everyone has most likely done something they didn’t think they were capable of. If you set your mind to reach a certain goal, you will do everything you can to achieve it.

Another quote that Esko shared is from the classic John Muir. “The mountains are calling and I must go.” The mountains are considered an escape or a place of sanctuary for many. It’s no different for Esko. He’s originally from the East Coast and he’s adopted Salt Lake as his home. You definitely can’t argue with his choice of adopted homes. If there’s any place where you’ll be surrounded by majestic and beautiful mountains, it’s Utah. And the fact that they’re so easily accessible doesn’t hurt either. When the mountains call, Peter listens and takes his time basking in every minute that he possibly can amidst the outdoor terrain that Salt Lake so magnificently provides.

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