Pocatello 50

he drive to Pocatello was short and sweet, thanks to Idaho’s 75 mph speed limit. I got there at about 2:30 on Friday afternoon to check in at Scott’s Ski & Sport, where I was introduced to this weekend’s slugfest race directors, Ryan McDermott & Jared Campbell. After that, I got some good trail scouting done before the pre-race meeting. After that took place, I headed up to Scout Mountain, and was hiking the trails around there. Such beautiful country! I headed back to camp, got my gear ready for the race, and hit the sack. Wake-up call was at 5 AM, and I was raring to go from the minute I woke up. Ryan M. counted us down, and we were off. The 1st 3/4 of a mile are on the main road to the campground (start/finish), and then we headed off onto the Slate Mountain Trail. This section starts off as a steady uphill, then you level off for a few miles until the descent into the Gibson Jack Rd. Aid Station. The views from this section were very beautiful and impressive, a recurrent theme in the day’s race. Slate Mountain Trail Got into Gibson Jack feeling mighty fine, then headed on my way to the 1st big challenge of the race. The Wild Mountain climb is a ‘stairmaster’ climb, slowing my pace to a crawl. Luckily I had planned for this and brought my trekking poles along for the race. With 13,680 ft of climb, this race has more elevation gain than my next 100 mile, the San Diego 100. I took it easy on the climb up to the top, then ran along a dirt road to the side of Kinport peak. From here is a winding dirt road to the City Creek aid station. I was making good time until I rolled my ankle halfway down, and was forced to walk for a good 10 minutes while my ankle tried to recover. with 35 miles left, I knew this could spell trouble and the terrible DNF. I ran easy on all the downhill sections from here. My legs still felt good and fresh, so that at least kept me in good spirits. I arrived to City Creek, arriving in 3:36. Had some good food, then I began the rolling uphill through the City Creek trail. This was a very beautiful section of the course, with lots of shade and cool water keeping the temps down. I arrived to the next water station at 19.5 miles, being informed that the next section would be very steep. I filled up on water, and was off on my way. The 1st couple miles weren’t that bad. Then, the real trail took a turn to the left and I found myself headed up a creek without a paddle.

Climb up City Creek
Climb up City Creek

Very nasty section, and I found the RD’s sick sense of humor. Very muddy, with water coming down, and the heat becoming very stifling. I ran out of water, which amounted to 60 oz., and started becoming dehydrated badly. The climb just seemed to take forever. Eventually I came out of the top of City Creek and hit the ridge-line next to Kinport Peak. The next section started out rather bleak and arid, but while running on the Midnight Creek trail I noticed the foliage and scenery becoming greener and greener.

Midnight Creek Trail
Midnight Creek Trail

This was a wonderful section, and I felt really good. The legs were taking the beating well. I got to the Midnight Creek aid station and down a lot of fluid, had this incredible beef broth and noodles, and I was set to go. The next section of trail was the finish of Loop 1 and the descent into Gibson Jack Creek. This was probably my favorite section of the course. Tons of Aspen and meadows ran through this section, as well as great views of Scout Mountain, which was getting closer and closer. I was having a great time. I arrived to the Gibson Jack aid station just before 2 PM, right on time. I took a few minutes to sit down and really fuel up, since the top of the last leg of the race was very high up. This would be a hard section of the run. After Gibson Jack you are climbing pretty much non-stop for the next 10 miles. I would try to run some of the shallower sections of the trail, but I would run of of steam. So I just decided to power-walk the whole section. I arrived to the aid station at mile 38 feeling pretty good, but much of the section beforehand I was in a bad low. Oh well.

Scout Mountain, 8,701 ft
Scout Mountain, 8,701 ft

The views of the surrounding area were wonderful, and got better and better the higher up the trail I was. The snow made everything a mess, and was a pain to hike through. I was happy for having my sunglasses, and that cut down on the havoc the constant snow was wreaking on my eyes. Lori Bantekas and Julie Hagen caught up with me, and I chatted with them for a while. We would hopscotch for the rest of the race. After reaching the top of Scout (8,701 ft) there is this wonderful glissading section that provided lots of fun for the runners.

Lori Bantekas sliding down.
Lori Bantekas sliding down.

I slid down the mountainside for a very long time until I hit the next section of trail. Then it was a steady downhill until about mile 48. I got to the Big Fur aid station, mile 47, grabbed a couple morsels, and then was on my way. I was very excited to finish. I got to the last climb and was surprised at how steep and long it was, but I put up with it and pushed onward.

Aspen from last section of race
Aspen from last section of race

A couple of miles later I found myself on the main road to the finish , with people cheering me on through the road to the campground. Finish with 13:48, and a big smile on my face. You get a t-shirt for running the race and nothing else, except a handshake from the Race Directors. That was all I needed. This was such a tough race, I was just happy with finishing. My last 50 mile run took me 8:53 hours, and this one took almost 5 hours longer, to give you a perspective on the elevation. A great finish, and some good training for the San Diego 100 mile Endurance run, a week from this Saturday.  Thanks for the incredible race guys.

Jared Campbell & I at finish.
Jared Campbell & I at finish.
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One thought on “Pocatello 50

  1. Hey, if you ask nicely and smile, you get a hug, big one, instead of a handshake (or on top of it)! Good job, Ben, you are ready to roll SD100! Best of luck! prepare for heat, it’s an all open terrain, lots of dirt road with rocks, and no shade, but AS’s’ are great, and so are the people!

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