Social distancing wasn’t a problem in the Pioneer Mountains Saturday, where Ben Blessing’s Standhope Ultra Challenge celebrated nearly a decade of sore quads and calves on a fine summer day.

Idaho’s highest trail race, where they say life begins at 10,000 feet, brought out 134 runners for the eighth annual Standhope Ultra Challenge 60-kilometer (37-mile) and 30k (18.6-mile) footraces at altitudes ranging up to 11,000 feet.

It was the first Standhope staged in the month of July, since Compass Public Charter School band and choir director Blessing started it all in 2013. Entry fee was $70. And registrations begin Nov. 1 for next year’s event, on July 24, 2021.

Saturday’s 37-miler crowned a pair of first-time winners in 22-year-old Jackson Brill of Boulder, Co. and Lindsey Anderson, 37, from Montana.

Brill, a 2016 Boise High School graduate, was a senior majoring in Integrative Physiology this past year at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His thesis was on “To Run or Walk Uphill: A Matter of Inclination.” And Brill did a lot of that Saturday, at a fast pace.

He won Saturday’s 60k race by 66 minutes with a time of 5.55:37. Brill has achieved much since running elite cross country for Boise High—making the podium in 14 of his 15 ultramarathons since 2017 and winning eight times, several in course records.

Anderson (7.35:17) placed fourth overall of 52 finishers and led a female 60k assault on the leaderboard.

Seven women landed in the female top 13 including fourth-place Delilah Carden of Ketchum and fifth-place Erika Flowers of Bozeman, the 2019 Boulder Mountain Ski Tour women’s champion and 2020 bronze medalist in that Nordic event.

Wood River Valley runners accounted for three spots in the top 15 of the 18.6-mile footrace won by 35-year-old Dan Gardiner of Salt Lake City in 3.13:20. Backcountry snowmobiler Gardiner also enjoys running in the hills.

Those top local runners in a field of 82 at the 30k distance were fourth-place Whit Albright (3.42:38), Kevin Browder of Hailey (4.18:24) and Dan Breuer of Ketchum (4.19:27).

Women’s winner at 30k was 18-year-old Elliot Singer, the mountain-loving pride of San Francisco’s Lick Wilmerding High School. Singer (3.37:41) finished second overall 24 minutes behind Gardiner, and a full 43 minutes ahead of the next-fastest female Saturday.

Saturday’s 60k race began from Park Creek Campground 13 miles east of Ketchum via Trail Creek Road and traveled through wild and rugged Custer County wilderness.

They traveled through the Salmon/Challis National Forest past 11,865-foot Devils Bedstead and between the 11,353 Big Black Dome and 11,887-foot Standhope Peak. The 30k started at Fall Creek Trailhead.

Email the writer: sports@mtexpress.com

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