SALT LAKE CITY — With the sun beating down on the University of Utah’s bright red tartan track, a pack of runners rounds the final bend for the 16th — and final — time. The cadence and stride length of Amy Hastings picks up as she pulls away on the home straight. Following closely behind, but looking a little more labored, are three men.
In 2012 at the London Olympics, Hastings placed 11th. With the Rio Games just under one year away, Hastings and her husband, Alistair Cragg, a three-time Irish Olympian, visit Utah's thinly oxygenated, high-altitude training grounds.
Looking to Brazil, Hastings and Cragg believe being in Utah for month-long high-altitude training blocks gives them an advantage by naturally boosting their red blood cell counts — and thereby performance.
Hastings and Cragg aren’t the only ones seeking out Utah's thin air these days.
Two days earlier, Bowerman TC, a team of professional runners sponsored by Nike, hammered out a series of high-intensity intervals on Utah's track. The workout was their last hard session before boarding a plane to East Asia.