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Race organizers did the smart thing

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Posted: Sunday, May 30, 2010 10:30 pm


I am just guessing here, but I would imagine that sometime around 11 a.m. on Saturday, Pocatello 50 race organizers Ryan McDermott and Jared Campbell were getting a bit nervous.

Their 50-mile road racing event had attracted 150 runners from all over the country, as well as two from Japan, and as Campbell noted the other day, the tougher the conditions, the bigger the event’s draw.

The Pocatello 50 quickly had become the talk of the racing circuit. Only two years into the event, it was considered a supreme challenge of a runner’s tenacity, toughness, endurance and mental strength.

The runners who started out from the Mink Creek pavilion at 6 a.m. certainly were getting their money’s worth. The Pocatello 50 came close to becoming an episode of Survivorman.

Think of a triathlon with sharks in the water or 10-meter diving into a barrel. If you issue a challenge, people happily will line up.

Last week, all the talk about snow and wind in the middle of a 50-mile run was lighthearted. Yeah, that glissading would be great.

Until I started talking to Campbell, I didn’t even know what glissading was ... thank goodness.

But if sliding down an icy or snow-covered slope — without skis — is your bag, Pocatello was your place on Saturday.

OK, we can’t exactly blame Pocatello, where weather conditions for the last Saturday in May simply were nasty, windy and cold.

Up at Kinport Peak, the conditions were “Nothing short of arctic,” according to McDermott, who had the good sense to run the race to see what his participants might encounter.

It didn’t take long for McDermott to realize that going up another 1,500 feet later in the race to the top of Scout Mountain might not be such a good idea.

Runner Jim Skaggs said the conditions at Kinport Peak were near “white-out” and he added that the driving sleet was painful. 

Usually one might have to drive nails into his/her feet to have such a good time.

Thankfully, McDermott and Campbell took the high road, or at least got the runners back down to the low road. They called off the race about a third of the way through the festivities.

I’m sure the two race promoters will laugh about this one down the road, but they have to be smarting a bit for the time being. All their hard work over the past six to nine months was torn to shreds by a blast from Mother Nature, who was doing an end-zone dance at Kinport Peak as the undisputed champ.

Back down at the bottom of the mountain, most of the runners were doing an “Aw shucks, I could have managed that” ... while blessing their lucky stars they didn’t lose any fingers or toes.

It will be interesting to see where McDermott and Campbell go from here. Certainly, Saturday’s storm was kind of a late blast from winter, but not exactly a freak storm, either. From what local residents tell me, it’s entirely possible to get such a storm late in May.

So, and I’m not really sure of the promoters’ time constraints, it might be wise, and safe, to consider a mid-June starting date. At least that way, they can avoid having an event more suited for Iditarod champ Susan Butcher and her dog sled.

Here’s hoping that McDermott and Campbell continue their labor of love and find a little more weather-friendly time for the race. Yes, you might lose a runner who doesn’t want to compete against a bunch of fair-weather wimps, but the event might find an anchor date and become a tradition.

The Pocatello 50 really is a terrific event and one that gives the area a little extra shine, at least when it isn’t sleeting. 

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Kyle Franko

Sports editor

Kyle covers Idaho State University football and men's basketball and high school sports

Madison Guernsey

Sports writer

Madison covers Idaho State athletics and high school sports.

Jeff Papworth

Sports writer

Jeff covers Idaho State athletics and high school sports.