My family and I traveled to Pocatello for Memorial Day weekend where we were looking forward to spending a little time away from home and I was excited to run the Pocatello 50. Friends of ours had offered us the use of their beautiful house in the hills outside town and the long weekend promised to be a fun break from all of the end-of-year school activities.
Leading up to the race, the biggest thing on our minds was the weather. The month of May in Idaho has been characterized by cold weather, strong winds and incessant precipitation and there was, indeed, the potential for more of the same on race day. However, when my friend and training partner Brad Mitchell and I arrived at the starting area on Saturday the sky looked promising. Unfortunately, the promising weather did not last long.
After a nice relaxing first three miles it started to rain lightly. Tucking into a small pack, I made my way through the very runnable first 8 miles in a comfortable 1:15 and only fell once in the mud on the descent into the first aid station. Upon filling my bottle, Race Director Jared Campbell excitedly told me, “You’re going to love this next section, it’s just like Hardrock.” He was right except for the snow, sleet and 50 mile per hour winds.
By the time I got down to the 16.9-mile aid station I knew I needed to re-group. Fortunately, Jared had a warm jacket for me to borrow and the lower elevation made things a bit more manageable on this stretch. So, I loaded up on food and headed out into the wilds. The race was on!
The second section proved to be tougher than the first. While the terrain was some of the most gentle we would face all day, the weather made it difficult to stay on the course and the footing got worse and worse as the precipitation increased. What was particularly challenging was running in the muddy slush that accumulated on the course as each step thrust me into the unknown.
About a mile before the 32-mile aid a race volunteer who was hiking up the trail told me that the race had been canceled. At first, I was disappointed, but as I began to think about it, I realized that it was the right thing to do. While I had been caught up in the excitement of my own experience, I failed to realize what might be going on elsewhere on the course. And, as it turned out, there was some serious suffering going on out there. Jared and Ryan did the best thing they could have done in the circumstances.
So, in the end I didn’t get the 50-mile training run I was hoping for but perhaps that is for the best. It’s just that now I’ll need to push a bit harder over the next ten days to make up for it. That will be fun!
And, I certainly plan to return to the Pocatello 50 next year. It’s a great race, in a great place put on by great people.