Sawtooth 64


The second race in the 2015 Personal Challenge Series is the Sawtooth 64, in the heart of the Sawtooth Mountains in Central Idaho. I did a version of this last year, and it was awesome (except the swim); I thought about it all winter, and it was the catalyst for ensuring the YNP 70.3 happened this summer.

Pre-Race: The night before the race will be spent at Camp Perkins, a church camp I absolutely love because it is such as serene place. Campfire songs are the best!  And the cabins are great even though they are as basic as possible. Hint: camp does have some nicer accomodations if you prefer those.

The Swim:  Last year’s attempt in Alturas Lake was too much for me….I was not comfortable at all in that water. Perkins Lake will be a completely different story, as I am familiar with lake from canoeing it alot in the past summers. The trick to using Lake Perkins for the swim is the transition to the bike because transition at Camp Perkins itself means the bike starts on a mile of gravel road. So, the swim starts where it does because it is close to a paved road. The distance between the lake and the road is about 50 yards and completely doable.

The swim itself will be great. The water is clear, and you can see about 100 feet in front of you and certainly down to about 20 feet, including all the fish(!). It’s a swim out to the inlet and back, then down to the outlet, coming in right at 1.2 miles.

The swim venue. The swim start is off to the left and goes in front of the dock in the bottom right of this picture.

The swim venue. The swim start is off to the left and goes in front of the dock in the bottom right of this picture.

Sawtooth 60 Swim (1.2 miles; start south point to inlet point and back, then to outlet and back)


Transition 1: This is pretty simple. Get out of the lake. Go uphill a bit to grab the bike. Leave all T1 gear in a pile near the road. Family or friends come and get it a bit later. There is nobody there early in the morning because everyone else is sleeping in, snoozing and snuggling in a camper or tent while the mountain bluebirds chirp away.

The Bike: Starting near Lake Perkins, the bike course heads out to the main and takes a right to head up and over Galena Summit (8,701 ftt). From there, head down to Galena Lodge and then back up and over Galena Summit. Head down, down, down to Fourth of July Creek to turn around and head back to Camp Perkins. Go past the bike start to head all the way down to the Alturas Creek Campground. Start Transition #2.

The view is as breathtaking as the effort to get up.

The view is as breathtaking as the effort to get up.

Galena Summit at 8,701 ft.

Galena Summit at 8,701 ft.

Transition #2: This is a bit tricky because I wanted the run to be completely on trail. Last year, I ran about two miles on a gravel road, and that section is ok but can be replaced by two miles on a trail and able to top out on a trail pass that will be very intriguing and motivating. So, at the campground, change gear and lock up the bike in the Xterra. Then I will drive two miles down to the trailhead to be able to cut out that gravel road section and start directly on a trail.

Is driving to the trailhead cheating? No! Personal Challenges are courses done as something to challenge yourself in whatever way you want to be challenged. I think the challenge of getting to the trail pass at elevation 8,550 certainly offsets a three minute drive. If anything, the short drive will kill my momentum.

Sawtooth 60 Bike ( 52 miles; start at Perkins Lake, end at Alturas Inlet campground)



The Run ( 13.4 miles start and end at Alturas Creek trailhead)

This is an absolutely AWESOME trail run. The elevation rise is very gentle, and it follows the creek the entire way. Fresh water is never too far away for either drinking or splashing. The temperatures will remain relatively cool. When I ran this last year, I had so much positive energy in me that I never felt any pain during that run; it was a truly joyful run.

This year, I am changing the course to allow the distance to take me to the top of the trail pass at 8,550 feet. I think the last half mile going up a steep portion of the trail will be a definite challenge and certainly require some walking, but I am looking forward to jogging downhill the entire second half. I get excited about racing at higher elevations, so I am pretty excited about this route.



Post-Race: Recovery drink (beer, of course!) on the Camp lodge porch that looks like this.

The view for post-race relaxation.

The view for post-race relaxation.

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