IMTUF is likely to forever hold its position as my craziest spur-of-the-moment, last-minute race signup.
With the difficulty in securing entry to popular and enduring races these days it is important to plan ahead, and I already have most of my key races for 2016 pencilled in. The problem is that you can’t know whether you will be able to secure entry into the race until much later. I will have my name in the November lottery for next year’s Hardrock 100, but if I miss out again (this will be my 3rd attempt) then it will be necessary to complete another qualifying race prior to next November in order to enter the lottery in 2016 for the race in 2017 (I hope you could follow that).
Only 23 races count as qualifiers for Hardrock, of which 10 are outside the US and one of them is Hardrock itself. Wanting to stick to US options gave me a list of 12 races to consider. Further looking into those races uncovered a number of already sold out options and some that didn’t fit in with other races already planned. I was struggling to find a 2016 race that was still available for entry and fit into my schedule. But why did the race have to be in 2016?
All of that thought process resulted in my signing up for the Idaho Mountain Trail Ultra Festival (IMTUF) 100 less than 3 weeks ago. Taking place in the Salmon River Mountains around McCall in Idaho, the race features 21,000 feet (6,300 m) of ascent.
Considering my training over the past 4 months has focussed on shorter distances, resulting in personal best times over 5 and 10 km, I wouldn’t consider myself ideally prepared for a 100-mile race. That being said, I am in good shape and am confident that I can complete the race. I plan to run at an easy pace, enjoy some time on the trails of Idaho, and secure a Hardrock qualifier that is hopefully unnecessary due to my selection for the 2016 race.