The Medal Stand: Blacktail Triathlon maintains appeal

Triathlon continues to be a fast-growing sport in eastern Idaho, and Saturday’s Blacktail Triathlon provides the opportunity for local athletes to showcase their sport after recent successes.

The Snake River Triathlon Club sent 42 athletes to the Ironman 70.3 in Boise over the weekend and took first place in the team rankings. A considerable number of the club members will participate at Blacktail at the Ririe Reservoir, including Ryan Ellis of Ammon. Ellis finished 152nd overall in Boise in 5 hours, 23 minutes, 13 seconds.

“He’s probably at this moment the biggest name we’ve got coming,” said Michael Hays of Personal Best Performance, which sponsors the Blacktail Triathlon. “We’re excited. The season is just getting underway.”

The course and start times remain the same for Blacktail, which features an 11 percent uphill grade at the start of the cycling portion and a half-paved, half trail running portion. The Olympic course start time is 7:30 a.m.; the sprint course and duathlon start time is 8:30 a.m.

Hays said Blacktail’s challenging course prepares athletes for competition at a higher level, particularly those looking to qualify for triathlon national championships. He added that he anticipates a turnout similar to last year’s event with a good mix of veteran triathletes and newcomers.

“It kind of draws the athlete that wants to show what they’re made of,” Hays said. “What we’re trying to do is help local athletes prepare for events anywhere in the world that they can go and do.”

Coming up locally

The Medal Stand column will be on hiatus through July 3. Olympic sports updates will be posted on a limited basis on That being said, I would like to highlight several local events taking place over the next couple of weeks.

The annual Bear Lake Marathon takes place Friday and Saturday in Fish Haven. Friday’s half marathon and marathon, with respective start times of 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., take place on the Idaho side of the lake while Saturday’s marathon, half marathon, 10k and 5k take place on the Utah side.

One of the biggest events taking place Saturday is the USA Track and Field certified Teton Dam Marathon in Rexburg. Start times are 6:30 a.m. for the marathon and marathon relay, 7:30 a.m. for the half marathon, 8 a.m. for the 10k and 8:30 a.m. for the 5k.

The fourth annual Jeff Allen and Shane Heath Memorial 10k/5k walk/run and half marathon takes place Saturday in Salmon. Proceeds benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. This year, the half marathon will take place entirely on trails.

The Nock the Rock Half Marathon — which Snake River High School’s own Quincy and Joseph Van Orden own the course records for — takes place at 8 a.m. Saturday in Soda Springs. There is a kids mile at 7:30 a.m. and the half marathon also has a two-person relay team option.

The following week is just as busy. The 27th annual Scenic River Classic half marathon, 10k run and 5k run/walk take place June 21 at Snake River Landing while the River of No Return Endurance Runs with 100k, 50k and 25k courses also take place that morning in Challis.

Team USA update

The 2014 FIFA World Cup begins today across various venues in Brazil, and there are more ways than ever to follow along even when you are not near a television. Twitter has updated both its desktop version and smartphone apps to include a brief schedule of upcoming games on its homepage and all related topics are tagged #WorldCup. Updates can also be followed on Twitter at @FIFAWorldCup, Instagram at @fifaworldcup and the official FIFA smartphone app.

The U.S. men’s national team arrived in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Monday. The first group play match for the U.S. is Monday against Ghana.