Pocatello 50 (K++)

As many of you heard, the race had many unfortunate circumstances that caused it to be cancelled mid-race.  When I started my race along with everyone else I was wearing my CW-X™  ¾ length performance tights, my Pulse™ running shirt, and my 100 Mile Man™ jacket.  My hydration system was the Nathan™ hydration pack.  I had another windbreaker shoved into it in case it was too cold for just 2 layers.  This saved me.  Many runners were just wearing shorts and tank tops, which would have worked wonderfully at the race the previous year.  This year’s P50 was COMPLETELY different.  Almost right off the bat, the weather turned sour on us.  It was raining on the way up the Slate Mountain climb, and did not let up.  I was having a great time though, and felt much farther up in the pack than I think I was the previous year.  I could feel my month’s hard work paying off.  I could also feel the one aspect I missed that morning-breakfast.  4 miles in, I was starting to get hungry.  Luckily, I had been carbo-loading for several days, so the lack of food did not affect my energy, which remained consistent through the entire run.  As we traversed the 1st leg of the run, I sensed an eerie familiarity of the McDonald Forest 50K mud with the stuff we were running through.  This stuff was great!  It made my day, and I noticed many people with muddy behinds from lost battles with the shoe-sucking muck.  I took a spill right before the Gibson Jack Aid station (~8.6 miles).  Covered with mud and a big smile on my face, I did my job of getting the chilled aid station helpers in a better mood.  I was pretty gross, and noticed RD Jared Campbell standing there, so I made sure to give him a big muddy hug before I bid adieu >:^D 

After I left Gibson Jack the real horrors of the race started to catch up.  The higher we climb, the chillier it got.  By the time I started the Wild Mountain Climb, it was snowing.  The climb was especially brutal due to the 40 mph+ winds that were blowing snow into my face.  The sensation was close to having a dry shave with a bad razor.  Since the climb is about 1300 ft in a mile, I was forced to be tortured by the gale force winds.  I was running with RD Ryan McDermott, and we were doing our best to keep each other in a good mood up this horrifying climb.  I sped up ahead of him and made my 1st mistake of the race.  Instead of going left like I was supposed to, I followed the other runners who were going right.  After a little while I looked at my Garmin and realized we were going the wrong way.  I yelled at everyone around me to come follow me to the race course.  There were about 10 of us, and I was relieved to get all those people back on track.  The top of this climb (near Kinport Peak) was in extreme blizzard condition, just like the climb.  You couldn’t see any of the course markings.  Because of this, many more people became lost.  Theresa Schut and 12 others made the same mistake I had made, and ended up running all the way to Pocatello.

After I made the correct turn onto the aid station course, I continued my long descent to City Creek Aid Station (~17 miles).  The road we ran down was in bad shape just like last year.  There was plenty of mud the farther down we came from the mountain.  This created big problems for people behind me, as more and more people destroyed the trail creating close to un-runnable conditions.  I wasn’t concerned about that, I was only worried about getting some dry warm clothes on and some food to eat.  I was in bad shape when I got to the aid station and really wanted to give up.  I’ve never felt so low in my life.  I had another climb up to Kinport, plus the previous memory of what the weather was like at the top.  I stayed tough though, and got out of the aid station just before 10 AM.  I put on 4 layers of clothing this time, which helped me stay warm until the 2nd climb soaked them.   My hands suffered in ways that I have never experienced before.  Today I am writing this race report with numb and tingly hands still recovering from the early symptoms of frostbite I was experiencing.  Once I got to the top of the second climb I was in a world of hurt.  The weather was just in bad, and I was running my hands in my armpits to keep my terribly painful hands alive.   Myself and another racer, Ryan Sylva, teamed up to push through the horrible weather.  The weather got better the farther into the trees I ran.  When I got to the aid station (27 miles), I learned the race was being cancelled.  I was deeply saddened by this, and was feeling good enough to finish.  There were many runners here, huddled around the tiny propane heater the aid station personnel had brought.  A couple of them looked really bad.  My buddy Dennis Ahern was suffering from mild hypothermia.  I didn’t want to stick around, I just wanted to continue to Mink Creek and hope the race could be continued.  Sylva and myself continued on.  There is a tough little climb out of Midnight Creek and then we were on the Mink Creek trail, a sweet 6 mile downhill trail to the end of the 1st loop.  We blasted this section.  The faster I ran, the better I felt.  I really wanted to continue on.  I kept telling myself it was 70o and sunny at the top, to make the last climb seem not so bad (it isn’t as bad as the climbs up to Kinport).  When I got to the Aid Station (~34 miles), I learned that nobody was allowed to go onto the Scout Mountain Loop.  The race was cancelled.  Many people were lost and hypothermic from the unexpected adverse conditions that were experienced on the course.  Ryan and Jared made a good call in cancelling, as the top of Scout Mountain (8,701 ft) was experiencing 15 ft visibility with the weather.  So I finished up with 34.25 miles in 7:44, and made a good effort out it.  Nobody died, and I definitely consider that a success.

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2 Comments

  1. Sounds pretty much like my worse nightmare. Glad nobody was seriously hurt.

  2. Ben I’m glad everyone is ok. That is a huge bummer to have something cancelled that you have trained so hard for. I’m sure the race directors will try to make it up to you. Good luck.


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