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Notebook: Basque theme flows through Race to Robie Creek

There were bulls at the start and the finish, red-and-white outfits galore and Basque musicians throughout the Race to Robie Creek on Saturday.

The event’s annual theme had a Basque flavor — “The Running of the Toads.” It’s a natural fit for a race that goes across Aldape Summit, which is named for a Basque immigrant.

The racers included John Aldape, the great-grandson of Felipe Aldape — the man whose name puts dread into runners every April. Aldape, incidentally, refers to the “steep part of the mountain,” John Aldape said.

The most famous Running of the Bulls is held in Pamplona, Spain — in Basque country. For the Running of the Toads, organizers had bull costumes at the start and finish and some racers dressed as toads — one woman even wore a foam frog hat. Others dressed in the Basque tradition of red and white.

Basque band Amuma Says No performed at the post-race party.

About 5 miles into the course, a trio of Basque musicians played for the racers in a spot where they could be heard before they were seen.

“It was a nice, magical moment,” women’s winner Andrija Barker said. “It was inspiring.”

Busy day at medical tent

At least three racers were carted to the finish line and many more were ushered to the medical tent to treat heat exhaustion, cramping and dehydration. One man zig-zagged the last 50 yards of the course and nearly collapsed at the line.

The injuries that required evacuation from the course were largely the result of falls, said Francisco Castellon, the medical officer for Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue. The Boise-based, volunteer organization annually provides first-aid treatment for Robie racers.

It was about 70 degrees at the finish line but without much breeze it felt warmer. Some racers told Castellon they didn’t eat before the noon start.

“A lot of times an ice pack to the back of the head helps them,” Castellon said. “It helps them to take a load off, too. ... A cold drink goes a long way.”

Endurance talking

Larry Buttel, “The Mouth of Robie,” called out finishers’ names on the public-address system — and did a little cheerleading — for 82 minutes before he took a break.

He’s a performing singer, so he knows how to take care of his voice.

“I keep hydrated,” he said. “I go to a special mixture of honey, lemon and cinnamon extract.”

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