Wilson Creek Frozen 50k
As winter is firmly tightening it’s grasp on us, races also seem fade away into the dark corners of the season, often making it difficult to find one during those chilly months. One group is bucking the trend of the winter race slumber, hosting the Wilson Creek Frozen 50K, a January 18th race southwest of Boise, Idaho. I caught up with RD Emily Berriochoa to hear all about it.
Tell me about the Wilson Creek Frozen 50K – what inspired this race?
My dad took me running at the Wilson and Reynolds Creek trails when I was in high school training for cross country season. They were really the first trails I had ever run on and now hold great sentimental value for me. When I go there to run, I feel like I am going home.
Credit: Allen Sandquist
Four years ago, my partner (at the time) Davina and I put together a fatass race at Wilson Creek, just for fun, because it sounded extraordinarily crazy and challenging to run a 50k there in January. It was so popular that the idea started brewing to make the event official so that we could make it available to more people as well as bring it under the umbrella of our company Pickled Feet Ultra Running. There were/are no other trail or ultra races in the area that time of year, so we like to think Wilson Creek is becoming Idaho’s winter classic, aside from a couple other fatass races, which we also support and help with. Most people, even the local runners, have never run at Wilson Creek or don’t get out there to train regularly; this race presents the opportunity to participate in something different from the regular winter running.
Credit: Allen Sandquist
What should racers expect running in Wilson Creek? Tell us a little about the course.
The 50K course will take runners between 5 hours to 12 hours to complete; it will take you first to the high point of the course at Wilson Peak and then down through the red canyon walls of the Reynolds Creek gorge for a total of ~7100 feet of elevation gain for the 31 miles. The 50k has aid stations at miles 2.5, 13, 20.3, 25.3, and 27.3, is composed of 43% singletrack and 57% road/ATV doubletrack, and has a 7.5 hour (3:00 pm) cutoff at mile 20.3 when you come back around to the start/finish.
Credit: Allen Sandquist. Seriously no one is listening to the pre-race briefing when it’s -3.
The 20.3 mile race has about 4900 feet of gain, the 10.8 mile has about 2100 feet, and the newly-added 5 mile route is a very manageable and minimally technical course for all abilities with about 788 feet of elevation gain. All of these shorter races allow plenty of time for runners and walkers of all abilities.
The men’s 50k course record of 5:08 was set by Seth Swanson of Montana in 2012. Local Joelle Vaught holds the women’s 50k course record of 5:11, set in 2013. Jeremy Humphrey of McCall holds the 20.3 mile record of 3:35; Carla Lucas of New Zealand holds the women’s 20.3 mile record of 3:43. In the 10.8 mile race, fourteen-year-old Joshua Thatcher of Sugar City holds the men’s record of 1:24; on the women’s side, local youngster Jaclyn Puga holds the 10.8 mile record at 1:25. (A lot of other fun stats and course conditions history can be found here: http://emilyberriochoa.com/Frozen50k/579-2/)
For 2014, the course will be run in the clockwise direction, reversed from the prior years. For the 50k, this puts the 5 miles of stiff climbing right at the beginning followed by lots of downhill to make up time on – this year’s direction may prove faster than the CCW direction…if it’s not muddy.
With a January race date – especially in Idaho – there must be some added challenges as an RD. How do you prepare for a “Frozen?” race?
We prepare by putting together the best group of race supporters possible. We can’t control the weather or course conditions, but we can provide warmth and fire and tents along with a solid communication plan and volunteers, transport, and course sweeps at the ready to help in a moment’s notice.
I would like to take this opportunity to give huge props to our major supporters. The race would not exist without:
- The Canyon County ATV Club, a super hardcore group of the toughest and funnest people on 4 wheels; they are present from start to finish, helping to extract runners, transport aid stations, mark the course, and keep runners safe.
- The Bureau of Land Management and Recreational Planner Ryan Homan at the Owyhee Field Office, who is the quickest draw on permits I have ever seen. He is a dream to work with.
- The Murphy-Reynolds-Wilson Volunteer Fire Department, a team of volunteer Fire/Paramedic/EMT people to keep everyone safe and cared for.
- A collection of hardcore and extremely experienced HAM operators keep everyone communicating and tracked from start to finish.
- The volunteers and local runners promote, support, and return year after year. Boise has a tremendous and burgeoning trail and ultra running community, made up of slow and fast, average and elite, all who support each other and volunteer and run in turns; when the support for the races wanes, the races till end; for the moment, we are so blessed here.
- The Pickled Feet Team, our stellar administrative crew made up of myself (The Head Honcho), plus The Boss Amy King, Director of Schmooze Rachael Bazzett, Director of Usefulness Jon Kinzer, and Director of Everything Else Amanda Butler; with special mention to Richard Marion, our race timing genius.
The Wilson Creek Frozen 50k is sponsored by The Pulse Running & Fitness (Meridian, ID), Scott Sports, Rolling H Cycles in (Nampa, ID), Hammer Nutrition, Trailrunner Magazine, UltraRunning, Run Pretty Far, Zombie Runner, Blessing Plumbing, Starbucks Nampa, Dennis Ahern Woodworking, Kinzer Farms, ABC Sanitation, Tempus Photo Design, and Road ID.
Brody gets a Paradise congrats as he finishes the 50k. Credit: Allen Sandquist
What makes Wilson Creek special?
Wilson Creek Frozen 50k promises a taste of the high desert beauty of Southern Idaho, with potential wild horse and other wild animal sightings (watch for cougar tracks!), likely brutal course conditions and weather, wide open scenic vistas (turn around and look behind you on the way up to Wilson Peak summit) coupled with high canyon walls later in the race through the Reynolds Creek gorge, some killer climbing and lots of sweet runnable downhills – all supported by the best group of volunteers and local runners in the West. In addition, all runners get some really great stuff from Pickled Feet and our sponsors (especially if you consider the bargain race entry fees!) and are awarded with a taste of Owyhee County in the shotgun shell finisher and age group awards. If you are looking for a challenging winter running adventure, this race will not disappoint.
Credit: Tempus Photo Design
The Wilson Creek Frozen 50k kicks off the 8-race 2014 Scott Sports Idaho Trail Ultra Series season. Check out all the races at: www.idahotrailultraseries.com
Race Website: frozen50k.pickledfeetultras.com
Registration Info: http://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=24312
**Through December 29th:**
- 50k: $48
- 20.3M: $48
- 10.8M: $38
- 5M: $28
Prices December 30th – January 10th:
- 50k: $65
- 20.3M: $65
- 10.8M: $55
- 5M: $45
Registration closes Sunday, January 10th at 11:59 PM