The second annual Pocatello Fall Ultra mountain bike race in Bannock County now has over 50 racers registered from four different states, said organizer Jeff Hough of Pocatello.
More competitors for the race on Saturday are welcome, but they have to be in shape for the race, he said.
It covers challenging ground — some parts of the the course are flat, but others are rocky and technical.
And riders have to be able to finish before it starts getting dark.
“It would be tough for the recreational rider to complete,” Hough said. “You have to train for it or you won’t make it.”
Plus, he said, the race is unsupported.
“So if you break down in the middle of the race, it’s on you to get off,” Hough said.
The race begins at Centennial Park in Pocatello and loops up to Scout Mountain and back. The 100K riders tackle the same loop twice and have to pass the West Fork parking lot at 2 p.m. For everybody else, the final cutoff is the Elk Meadows check station at 3 p.m.
But last year, only one person didn’t make the cutoff.
While Hough won’t be competing this year, lots of competitors from last year are returning this year.
He says about half the racers from last year are back again.
“We had great, great response from everybody last year,” he said.
Though the mix is a little different. Last year, the majority of riders participated in the longer race.
This year, there are about 40 riders for 50K race and about 15 for the 100K race.
The best feedback they had from last year’s race was how challenging the course was.
“That was what we wanted to hear,” Hough said. “It’s supposed to be hard.”
In fact, there’s 4,500 feet of elevation gain over the course of the race.
Further, the event is gaining wider notice.
“Last year, our parent organization, the Pocatello Sports Committee gave us seed money to get started,” Hough said. “We’re excited this year because we’ve picked up some race sponsors.”
They include the Idaho Central Credit Union, the Idaho National Guard and D.L. Evans Bank.
“It’ll cover basic race expenses like the timers, prizes, shirts and the cost of the post-race rider meal,” he said.
That all helps to cover costs. One of the significant costs is the electronic timing system, which costs over $1,200 for the event.
“We’ll have real-time status going on so when you cross the finish line we’ll get it on the website right away,” Hough said.
Meanwhile, he points out that the event is operating under a COVID-19 plan approved by Southeastern Idaho Public Health.
“We’re trying to do our part to be responsible,” said Hough, who is a Bannock County commissioner.
He said the commissioners have asked everybody with an event in the county to have a health safety plan.
“Our committee wanted to be respectful of that,” he said, “and be respectful of the situation.”
And he doesn’t think that providing social distancing will pose any problem for the event. With digital timers, they will be able to have staggered starts. The committee also cut back on some of the post-race festivities to help people feel comfortable.
The start times will be 7 a.m. for the 100K race and 8 a.m. for the 50K riders. To register for the race, go to bit.ly/33CGKiP. For more information about the race, visit pocatellofallultra.com.