About 1,000 athletes will converge Saturday in the cities of Stanley and Ketchum for the 15th annual Sawtooth Relay.
Organizers said a record 167 teams will toe the line in Stanley for staggered starts from 2 a.m. to 9 a.m. Six person teams cover the 61.9-mile course in six to 13 hours. Each teammate completes two legs averaging five miles each. Five solo athletes are expected to complete the course in nine to 13 hours.
Relay director Terry Hoebelheinrich expects some course records to fall. He said, "On paper there are some very fast teams assembled. The test will be how they match the talents of each teammate to the rigors of the course."
Rigors include the climb of the 8,701-foot Galena Summit.
Most teams enter for the fun and camaraderie of a team event. Outlandish team names and decorated vans are the norm. Some teams create costumes and uniforms.
It makes for a playful, party atmosphere as they trek from the Salmon River basin to the Big Wood River basin.
Teams join their last athlete for the final 100-yard sprint to the finish at Atkinson Park in Ketchum Saturday afternoon.
The solo athletes always arrive with a roar from the mere-mortal crowd in tribute to their mammoth achievement. Then it's time to settle in to the post-relay party with live music from appropriately-named Sonic Skillet and the traditional full meal.
The trout fillets, polish sausage, roasted potatoes, cole slaw, strawberry shortcake, soft drinks and micro-brewed beer are a favorite for many.
Many athletes have been known to continue the celebration far into the evening by taking in the Ketchum and Sun Valley night life.
Sawtooth Relay is a non-profit that benefits the Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation (www.pkdcure.org) and the Idaho Donor Network (www.yesidaho.org).
Details are available at www.sawtoothrelay.com.