As he ran his first-ever Race to Robie Creek last year, Markus Geiger said he "never really looked back." Once he finished, he was all alone in first, completing the grueling 13.1 miles in 1 hour, 14 minutes, 17.1 seconds - no one else was within 6 minutes.
It was just the third half-marathon Geiger had run, and the former University of Idaho track standout was frankly a bit surprised.
"I didn't really expect that," Geiger said. "I kept running like I would any other race, trying to finish strong. I finished and was kind of like, 'Man, where's the next guy?' "
Geiger will attempt to defend his title Saturday in the 37th annual running of the Race to Robie Creek. The 25-year-old, who came to Moscow from Germany, has not run in a half-marathon since, but did compete in Emmett's Most Excellent Triathlon last year. He said he's been too occupied with work at Micron to compete much, but Robie has been circled since winning last year.
"I've had a couple co-workers tell me they know a few guys who are pretty good going after me, and I think that's great, I love the competition and the atmosphere at Robie," Geiger said.
Geiger will look to be the first repeat winner at Robie since Patrick McCurry did it in 2009 and 2010. There will be a new women's champion, as 2013 champion Morgan Arritola did not enter. Lauri Thompson, a former winner herself, took second and is expected to compete.
An All-WAC selection in cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field as a senior at Idaho, Geiger trained frequently on the Robie course last year and said he has tried to work on it each weekend during the spring.
"I don't think I've trained as much as last year, but I've worked a lot on climbing and downhill, and I know a little bit of what to expect now," Geiger said.
Now that he knows there might be a bit of a target on his back, Geiger is more eager for his second shot at "The Toughest Race in the Northwest."
"I'm always excited to have some of that competition, since I don't get it as much as when I was at Idaho," Geiger said. "It's going to be fun, and I'm sure I'll get pushed a bit."