For a lifelong Midwesterner like me, the mountains never fail to be awesome in the traditional sense of the word.

The drive out to Idaho on I-90 climbs the whole way, from the thick air in Northfield at 910 feet, up the inclined plane of eastern South Dakota, through the Badlands and Black Hills in western SD, past Sheridan, WY, at 3,700 feet

and the Crazy Mountains in central Montana,

before going over the pass into Bozeman at 4,800 feet, where you see this from the parking lot at Target.

A few miles later, leaving the interstate, the route goes south through the Gallatin  River valley, seeming somehow to descend but actually climbing past endless rocky and forested bluffs. 

The highway pops out at West Yellowstone (6,667 feet) – at the northern end of the Fat Pursuit course – goes east over Targhee Pass, then turns south again, down to the race start in Island Park, Idaho. From I.P., Mount Two Top looms to the north, just outside West but 2,000 feet higher – the biggest challenge of the race course. 

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