Outdoors Blog

‘It’s brutal’: Race sends runners through Idaho mountains — in the dark

Kelly Lance of Pocatello climbs Diamond Rock near mile-marker 27 during the 2015 IMTUF 100 race.
Kelly Lance of Pocatello climbs Diamond Rock near mile-marker 27 during the 2015 IMTUF 100 race. Courtesy of IMTUF

Jeremy Humphrey’s late father was the inspiration behind his life as a runner, running coach and race director.

Sort of.

“I don’t think he ever approved of ultra running or really understood it,” Humphrey said. “One time when I was 8 years old, he stuck a finger at me and said, ‘Don’t ever run farther than a marathon.’ So he’d probably be horrified if he knew what I was up to.”

Humphrey organizes the IMTUF 100 — an ultra race that covers a little more than 100 miles in the mountains north of McCall. The fifth annual race is Saturday and Sunday, continuing through the night in the dark.

About 150 participants have signed up. Another 50 will compete Sunday in the Legend of Bear Pete 30-kilometer event.

IMTUF has about five times as many runners this year as in its first year. It has grown primarily through word of mouth about the beauty and difficulty of the course.

The course record is 21 hours, 6 minutes, 36 seconds. The race begins at 6 a.m.

“It’s brutal,” Humphrey said. “Giant ups and downs, it’s rough under foot, it’s a real mountain race. It’s not really proper to call it a trail race. It’s a mountain race.

“Some of it is very nice and smooth running. The higher and more remote you get from the trailheads, you get to really rocky, really steep, loose, technical trails. We have some trails that kind of disappear over time. Thankfully, our Forest Service lets us have our events on these obscure, beautiful, remote trails that not many people use.”

Meanwhile, the Foothills 50k Frenzy — another ultra run — will be staged Oct. 1 in Boise. The fourth annual event is part of the 10-race Idaho Trail Ultra Series. About 120 runners are expected to participate in the Frenzy, which begins at the dog park in Military Reserve and climbs all the way up to the Ridge Road.

“The trail series in general is growing like crazy,” said Holly Finch, owner of The Pulse Running & Fitness Shop. “We’re converting people from the road. If you can do a marathon, it’s only five more miles in the Foothills. It’s on dirt, which is easier on your body.”

Finch is an ultra runner. She had knee surgery in March, so she isn’t fit enough to run IMTUF this year. It’s on her “bucket list” despite the rugged course.

“It’s so beautiful,” she said. “The scenery is worth it for sure.”

Chadd Cripe