BOISE--The 34th Annual Race to Robie Creek will once again hit the foothills surrounding Boise on Saturday. It is a race that for, some, means another year is upon them, and with it comes another very difficult challenge.
"It's like a rite of spring passage," 20-year race participant Billy Gans said. "Once it's in your blood, the only thing that's ever stopped me has been an injury."
For 2,508 runners and walkers, the Race to Robie Creek is an event not to be missed. That excitement may come as a surprise to some, considering it is nicknamed the toughest race in the Northwest.
"I think if you go out too hard in the beginning, you can really get yourself overextended on the run, and then the whole course is hard," race director Bob Grisham said.
It's not just the beginning of the race that makes things difficult for participants. The uphill stretch, once the pavement ends, is a notable challenge for runner and walkers.
"The elevation really takes people by surprise," Gans said. "Every time you think that you're done with that hill, you're going to have a flat, there's another hill right around the corner."
The first eight miles up Rocky Canyon and over Aldape summit may seem like the hardest task to most, but according to Gans, reaching the top is really only the beginning.
"It's that last mile up and that first mile down. Because just as your legs are getting wobbly from walking up that last mile, then you've got that steep downhill."
"A lot of people think that when they get to the top the race is over," Grisham said. "But, that last five miles downhill is really one of the hardest parts of the race."
No matter what it is that makes Robie Creek so difficult to complete, Grisham thinks it is accurately nicknamed.
"Nobody has ever challenged us. Nobody has ever challenged that description of the race. I think we must be the toughest in the Northwest."