Beaverhead 100k just might be the race for you if you’re looking for a beautiful, challenging race that also happens to be a lesser-known Western States qualifier.
Race: Beaverhead 100k
Runner: Margaret Branick-Abilla
Race Date: 7/10/2021
Location: Salmon, ID
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/5608596361
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- Amazing views from the Continental Divide Trail (and seeing through hikers along the way)
- Fun, challenging terrain (scree, talus)
- Low key, old school race vibe
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
- Air quality was not so good due to fires in ID and MT (but it was fine a few years ago when I did the 55k — just depends)
- Aid stations were pretty basic and ran out of gels (as with any race, carry anything that you consider essential!). They also were not located quite where they were supposed to be (up to a mile off).
- Due to fires in the area in the past couple of years, there are some stretches of trail that are burned out, but not for too long.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
They served Pepsi instead of Coke! What’s up with that?!
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
Being up on the CDT was amazing. There’s nothing like standing on a ridge with a sheer drop of hundreds of feet into MT on one side and a scree field dropping down into ID on the other. And I got an incredible feeling of accomplishment from stretching myself out of my comfort zone to do this race.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
- This race is at 8,000-10,000′ altitude. If you live at sea level like me, work with your coach on training strategies to help deal with altitude. Better yet, do a training run/race at high altitude so you know how your body responds.
- There’s only one spot for a drop bag, at about the half-way point (Lehmi Pass, where the 55k starts). Stock up on anything you need for the second half, which will take longer than the first half because the course is a lot more technical.
- There are no pacers and only limited places for crew access. Best to be fairly self sufficient.
- It’s cold at 4:00am in the mountains when the race starts. The shuttle dropped us off at 3:15, and I was glad I had a packable jacket with me.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
The best lesson I learned is anything is possible if I just keep moving forward — whether steep climbs, thin air, hot temps, smoky conditions, or scrambling up rocky peaks.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
- The first half is gently rolling but the second half has some tough, technical sections including around 4 miles of loose rock (scree, talus). That’s followed by a steep downhill to Bohannon A/S, then the last 5-ish miles to the finish are the easiest (with a few water crossings here).
- If heights freak you out, this might not be the best race for you. Besides being technical, the trail takes you along some ledges and steep drop offs.
- Although there is no finish line cut-off, there are three internal cut-offs. The 2:30 pm cut-off at Cut Out A/S was the tightest (plus that aid station was almost a mile farther down the trail than I and others were expecting). But after making that cut-off, the others were no sweat and it was no problem finishing sub-19 to get the WSER qualifier.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
There are some pretty areas, but what I remember most are the rocky terrain, the views, and the exhilarating feeing of being up on the CDT.
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
Yes, the factors that make it tough include high altitude, heat, possibly smoky air and technical terrain in the second half.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
I’d say it’s organized well enough, but it’s also a little old school in that there’s minimal hand-holding and they expect runners to be aware of what they’re getting into and prepared for the challenge. The RD posted some videos on Facebook when they were marking the course a few days prior to the race, which were helpful. Pre-race communications were good, not over-done.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
Although it’s a WSER qualifier, it didn’t seem like the race attracted many folks from too far away.
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
Beaverhead 100k is not a hard race to get into — the only requirement is to have run a 50k in the prior three years. Logistics require more planning. Salmon, ID is a small town and not near any major airports. The town has limited lodging options, and hotel rooms can be scarce. Book a room at the Stagecoach Inn as soon as you decide to do the race. Second best is the Super 8 across the street. Neither are fancy, but you’ll be glad you’re there when it’s time to hop on the 2:15 am shuttle bus, which picks up runners at the Stagecoach Inn parking lot. That’s also where the post-race shuttle drops you off.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
Aid stations were pretty basic (tailwind, water, Pepsi, PBJ, chips, bananas, watermelon, M&Ms, other candies). Janke Lake had hot food. Bohannon had smoothies. Gels were scarce and I was glad I packed my own. There were ice buckets for dipping bandanas and hats. Later aid stations had ice to put in packs and bottles too.
Weather and typical race conditions
Expect intense sun, heat, and possibly smoky air. There also could be thunderstorms (not this year). There might be patches of snow on the course too (not much this year, but more when I did the 55k a few years ago).
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?
Because the race starts at 4:00 am, a headlamp or flashlight is necessary. I kept it with me since I knew I’d be finishing after sunset. Someone faster might not need a light for the second half. But… be very sure about that before ditching your light in your Lehmi Pass drop bag. There are no later drop bags.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
No, there are only a limited number of places where crew can access the course.
How’s the Swag?
Nice sweatshirt and rabbit race shirt, plus a metal souvenir license plate thingy, a buff, some SNB, and a string bag.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
So hard to say… really depends on what you want out of a race! For me, this was a 4/5. One of the races that I’m most proud of for sure.
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