Boise couple Brian and Tiedji Baker are running toward the number 12—12 marathons in 12 months.
And Brian Baker is not just trying to run the races but win them.
"I have won four marathons before, so I hope the stars align this year and I notch one more," said Brian, 44.
The annual Race to Robie Creek, dubbed "the toughest race in the Northwest," unofficially kicked off the warmer-weather racing season, and this year, runners certainly dealt with warmer weather as temperatures climbed into the 80s. But for those who missed the opportunity to sweat it out over Adalpe Summit—or those who missed the Famous Idaho Potato Marathon with full- or half-marathon, 10K and 4K options on May 19—there are still plenty of races coming up. In fact, Shu's Idaho Running Company's website shows nearly 150 more events left this year.
Though many local runners race year round—the popularity of the YMCA Christmas Run and this year's new Wilson Creek 50K in January prove there's no lack of pavement pounders willing to layer up—the fairweather running season is just getting under way in Idaho.
One local elite runner who put in the miles despite the rain, snow or heat is Ryan Lund.
"In the Treasure Valley, you can generally train outside year round, and there is always a race of some sort that is being offered," he said.
Lund has already competed in more than five races this year, including the Boston Marathon. He is also one of the local runners taking advantage of the newly established year-round Idaho Trail Ultra Series, which includes not only the Wilson Creek 50K but also the Silver City Endurance Run in June and Foothills 50K Frenzy in October—both of which are on his racing schedule.
"I am just breaking into ultramarathons and love it," said Lund. "Having competed in 20 marathons and a couple of Ironmans and Half Ironmans, it is time to break into the ultra races."
Lund will also travel to California for the Tahoe Tim Trail Endurance Run in July, the race that has him most excited.
"I think if you have a good physical base, you can probably fake a marathon," said Lund, explaining the difference in intensity between marathons and the lengthier ultramarathons. "I am not sure that it is very easy to fake an ultramarathon when you are out in the wilderness with limited aid stations and you have, in some cases, major elevation gains, nutrition needs and physical needs."
Most recently, Brian and Tiedji ran the Yakima River Canyon Marathon in March, Oregon's Vernonia Marathon in mid-April and the Lake Lowell Marathon in Nampa early this month, in which Brian took second place. According to him, runners are a certain breed of people. The sport has certain psychological effects on the brain. Most runners are happy people, he said, especially after a big race — usually called the runner's high.
Looking for your own runner's high? Register for an upcoming race.