Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Legend of Bear Pete

First let me clarify, I'm a casual runner. Mark Jones invited me to my first trail race, The Legend of Bear Pete 30k. We had been training and were pretty stoked to get a P2K. The big day came, the weather looked crummy and I was doubting myself, but the show had to go on.

Date: September 18, 2016.

Partners: N/A.

Stats: 30k/18 miles and 3,500ft gain to summit elevation 8,752. Time 4:21.

Gear notes: N/A.

Links: Legend of Bear PeteIdaho: A Climbing GuideSummitpost.

I had been feeling pretty good about the overall idea of this race; run the trail to the top of a peak and back down. I wasn't planning on placing first, nor was I trying to. I was only racing myself. Heck, I've been doing that for years. I wanted to finish in under 5 hours, so that was my first goal. My second goal was to experience and hopefully enjoy the race atmosphere. The third goal I set for this was to simply get up the peak.

Mark and Tory made it to McCall the night before as planned, but Mark was not feeling well and said he was a race day decision. I finally got the official word that morning; he was a no go. I was bummed since this was his idea and a major goal of his. There was potential for heavy showers and high winds for the day of the 30k and the 100 milers had been out in it all night. I was beginning to have my doubts as Denise and I drove toward Burgdorf in a heavy downpour, but I wasn't about to let some rain and a lot of mud stop me.

I got checked in, pinned on my bib, jumped in the pack and we were off at 9am. The initial section was along the road. It was fairly flat and made for a good warm up.

Start of the race. Photo credit: Deez.

Beyond the camp ground, the pack was pretty spread out. I wasn't near the front, but not in the back either.

Meadow at the end of the campground.

Before the steep section up the canyon.

If there was an easy section of the course, that was it. Now there was the 3,000 foot climb up the canyon to the summit ridge and a short cross country section to the peak.


I passed a few people and wondered if I was pushing too hard. I kept within a moderate perceived effort which was more of a fast hike than a run.

Trail along the summit ridge.

Once on the trail along the summit ridge, I was mostly alone among the beautiful colors of autumn. The clouds made for dramatic scenery but they didn't break until later in the day, well after I was done.

Summit ridge.

Summit ridge.

No views of any nearby peaks to be had. It was just me and the clouds for the time being.

Summit ridge.

Bear Pete Mountain.

Running the trail along the summit ridge was quick and fun. Soon I could see the peak, for the most part.

Course marker.

I broke off the trail for the cross country push to the summit with a fellow runner from McCall. The route was marked with the pink ribbons so it was just a matter of hopping from string to string.

Summit push.

The brush was still wet from all of the rain; now my shoes were too.

Summit shot.

It was a just a quick stop on top to mark the bib and grab a photo. Then back on down to the trail and on to the manned aid station at mile 14.

Summit view.

In the clouds.

The course went through a big marshy area. Normally I would find a way around it, but this was a race, not a dilly-dally. I plowed straight through it going down ankle deep at times. It didn't really matter, my feet were already wet. I checked in at the aid station at 3:08 into my run. I had a little over 4 miles left to get back to Burgdorf. It was mostly downhill but I was starting to feel the effects of the uphill push. Nothing else to do but suck it up and keep moving.

Cue the leg cramps!

The descent was steep and fast with only a couple of real muddy sections to get through. I got passed as I stopped to stretch out a pesky cramp. Soon I was back on the road and headed for the finish line where Deez had been waiting.

Finish line.
Ahh... I can smell beer!


I had stopped looking at my watch and was in a state of disbelief when I saw my posted time. I was pleased with that but even more happy to get on to the important stuff; free beer and chili.

Post race beer.

We hung out and chatted with Mark and Tory who made the drive up, and cheered on as more finishers of both the 100 miler and 30k came across the finish line. It was good to see familiar faces make it to the keg after their battle with the mountain.

Deez and I at the finish line.

Panoramic shot. Photo credit: Deez.

I felt intimidated at the start, but overall really enjoyed the race experience. I'd do another one. After a soak in the hot tub, we hit the town in search of food, drinks and music.

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