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On the Run

Enjoying the Mountains by Foot

(page 3 of 4)

Tough Runs

When he’s not crunching numbers, Ketchum-based accountant Ryan Still likes to run. An accomplished and enthusiastic runner, he usually places at the top of finishers in local races. He’s humble and truly loves the sport, especially the tough runs around the Wood River Valley.

His favorite local race is The Elephant’s Perch Backcountry Run.

“It’s a really tough race,” says Still. “I think it’s harder than Robie Creek.” Robie Creek is a Boise-based race touted as “The Toughest Half Marathon in the Northwest.”

The Backcountry Run offers a choice of 10-mile or 16-mile courses that gain notable elevation as they loop through the trails of Adams Gulch and Fox Creek, north of Ketchum. The off-road adventure, which celebrates its 29th running this year, begins and ends in Hulen Meadows north of Ketchum.

The picturesque single track route has multiple stream crossings, steep climbs and rewarding views of the Boulder and Pioneer Mountains. Runners travel from across the region to compete in the low-key event, which has become one of the largest races of the summer.

“The goal is always fun. It’s really about the people,” says Rosso. The popular race is one of the oldest in the Wood River Valley.

“I like the Backcountry Run because it’s local. I know most of the people out there,” Still says. He has run the 16-mile distance twice and has forgotten how many times he has run the shorter course.

But, Still does remember the year his team won the Sawtooth Relay, a relay race that begins in Stanley. In this relay, teams of six runners share the 62-mile distance from Stanley, over Galena Summit, to Ketchum.

“It’s a great way to spend time with your friends and enjoy the incredible scenery along the way,” says Lydia Flynn. Since moving to Ketchum, Flynn has run the race five times with a team of friends. Last year she didn’t make it, as the race coincided with her wedding day.

The breathtaking scenery of the Wood River Valley motivates many to compete in the Valley’s tough runs.

Last year, Runner’s World magazine featured the Sun Valley-Ketchum U.S. Half Marathon as one of the most gorgeous courses in the U.S.

“The race encompasses the heart of the Wood River Valley. The course travels through Elkhorn, Ketchum and Sun Valley,” says Dawkins. “If you come and run, you know that you are going to hit every major site during the race.”

Runners race on the paved paths throughout Sun Valley and Ketchum. The springtime event often sees fields of blooming lupine and wildlife.

“It’s a tough course, but it’s beautiful and very gratifying to finish,” remarks Nicole Campbell, of Ketchum, who has run and helped organize the race.

Remarkable views also come with the two races that climb Bald Mountain. The Elephant’s Perch has Shop to the Top and the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s Bald Mountain Hill Climb may climb different sides of the mountain, but both races share a challenging elevation gain and offer spectacular views of the Valley. >>>


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