What to say about the Pocatello Marathon that I haven’t covered in the previous two race reports? It remains my favorite Idaho marathon. For a town of about 50,000 people it seems to get an outsized number of volunteers. This little town seems to love its marathon. There were a few noticeable differences this year from 2016 and 2018 when I last ran it. First of all, the bag of potatoes is no longer a thing. Having had TSA give me a thorough going over last time as a result of bringing them back I can’t say I was too broken up about it, but for years the rando bag of potatoes handed out at packet pickup always drew attention, so for that reason it will be missed.
Secondly, longtime sponsor Sizzler seems to be gone. Instead it’s Taco Bell. Thankfully the finish party was not stocked with bean burritos and Nacho Bell Grande Chalupa Supremes or whatever. The course remains the same. Start at the top of Buckskin Saddle. Hide out in the barn for warmth, and shoot downhill for the first 10k, a mile and a half uphill to a turnaround to add a few miles and then back on the downward slope. The first 13 have you “running the gap.” Mountains to the left, mountains to the right as the sun comes up behind you get a nice picture show, that sadly never seems to photograph all that well.
At 13 however it’s barren road alongside the highway and railroad. “Look kids, a convenience store, a gas station, a bar serving at 9am…” Then on to the only significant hill of the event at mile 21 near a CAT dealership, pass the high school, and Regional Bus Terminal before swinging under a few overpasses and into a park at the finish area.
Also the same this year is a bag for all participants. This year a duffel bag. I registered this Valentines day for $40. I’m genuinely impressed what one gets for this race for two Harriet Tubbmans (it’s not yet a thing, but we’re going to make it a thing, mmkay?) The finisher party is great at Pocatello. Plenty of food and drink, huckleberry popcorn, etc. It is, the best value, and probably the best race, though Mesa Falls is still on my radar for my next Idaho mostly because I want that huckleberry smoothie at the finish. But with Pocatello always falling on a Labor Day Saturday I have to say it makes it ideal for a trip to the nearby western National Parks over the long holiday weekend.
Unique to this year, I was able to hang with Karen for the morning which is always a highlight. I saw Katya and Jennifer, as well as Ken, a fellow Floridian who I’ve managed to run into in North Dakota, Alaska, and now Idaho all within a few weeks. Bill, who’s now moved to Utah was in attendance, and Cathy, a woman I met last year was running about my pace again this year until she blew me away about mile 17. Not much sleep since I arrived to SLC at about 10pm and had a two hour drive to Pocatello. Up early to catch the shuttle to the top. Finish and head to the car to catch my flight to Memphis by way of Minneapolis. The plan for this weekend was a triple. I wound up quitting Tupelo a about 5k in, and not staring Heart of America. I continue to have confidence issues. Sad Panda.