Blue skies and sunshine graced the cool morning air on May 15 at the start of the 32nd annual Famous Idaho Potato Marathon. The event saw 2,842 spuds and spudettes cross the finish line.
Set against a backdrop of verdant hillsides and blooming springtime foliage, a major portion of the marathon, half marathon, 10K and 5K courses were run on the Greenbelt, the popular pedestrian pathway that parallels the tree-lined Boise River as it cuts through the eastern edge of the Treasure Valley.
More than 1,600 competitors gathered at Sandy Point Park for the start of the marathon and half marathon races. A brisk wind made the morning air feel much colder than the 54-degree reading on my car’s outdoor air temperature gauge. But once the starting gun went off, it took just half a mile of running to get my body warmed against the chill.
During the first few miles I left my iPod off so I could take in the sound of a thousand runners’ feet tapping the asphalt pathway. I also took time to admire the spring-greened walls of the canyon near Diversion Dam, noticing a pair of rock climbers clinging about halfway up one wall.
My friend, Susan, joined me near mile five at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival entrance on Warm Springs Avenue. For the next eight miles we chatted and laughed as she glided along on roller blades.
After more than two hours on the half marathon course, I crossed the finish line at Ann Morrison Park. Heading toward the food tents I bumped into and exchanged sweaty hugs with Boise Weekly publisher Sally Freeman and art director Leila Ramella-Rader, who completed the race together. Sally told me it was her first 10K.
Along with the crowd of other tired runners, I refueled on a variety of local foods like fresh Blue Sky bagels, and baked Idaho potatoes topped with Meadow Gold sour cream. Refreshed and feeling like a mighty spudette, I headed home to shower and enjoy the rest of a very pretty spring afternoon.