Self-described life enthusiast and Wydaho adventurer Ian Hosek of Driggs is an endurance coach and internationally-ranked athlete, but he’s also the guy who always seems like he’s having the most fun at any sporting event.
A Montanan born and raised, Hosek said that when he found Teton Valley, it “felt like Whitefish 25 years ago. But with better snow.”
Despite being a professional obstacle course racer, he embraces “real seasons” and partakes of many different Teton sports, including downhill skiing and hockey, although he’s aware of the potential for injury in most winter endeavors. Fortunately, cross country skiing is a great, and relatively safe, way to stay in shape through the winter.
“There are so many different tracks. Other places don’t have that. And the grooming is phenomenal,” he enthused about Teton Valley Trails and Pathways’ winter trails program.
During a five-year stint at Nike as a quality engineer, Hosek found his passion at the intersection of sport and science. In 2017 he started Hosek Performance Engineer and now coaches endurance athletes that run the gamut from couch warriors to elite racers. Learn more about his program at hosekpe.com
“I love the science behind sport, I love the nerdy stuff,” he said.
When he’s not teaching others how to train smarter, he’s chasing the podium in obstacle course racing, better known to laymen as Spartan races or Tough Mudders (the two major obstacle course racing series).
Hosek did his first mud run in 2011 and placed second; he was hooked on the combination of strength and endurance required in obstacle course racing.
“It’s a lot more entertaining than running, it breaks up the monotony and adds some spice,” Hosek said. “I’m not good enough to be competing in international trail running, but I like strength training and climbing, and I’m very proficient at obstacle technique.”
His career-best result is a fifth place at the Spartan World Championship in north Lake Tahoe in 2019; the same year he was the overall champion of the seven-race Spartan Mountain Series. He’s is fresh off a second place and a win at Montana races that happened the first weekend of May.
“I’m definitely still seeing improvements and getting better, which I’m grateful for,” he said.
He has dabbled in both trail and road triathlons and manages to forget every few years that he doesn’t enjoy them—mostly it’s an aversion to being cold and wet on the bike, he explained.
While his 2021 race calendar includes international destinations like the United Arab Emirates and Greece, Hosek can often be seen toeing the start line at small local mountain bike races and newspaper-sponsored fun runs. It was actually the Teton Ogre Adventure Race, the devious brainchild of Abby Broughton and Jason Popilsky, that was Hosek’s first introduction to Teton Valley—in 2017 he competed with his mom, and when he returned to Oregon he told his wife Stacy that’s where they were moving.
Last August, without any official events on the schedule, Hosek set his sights on a new challenge: two Fastest Known Times on Table Rock.
“I got pretty complacent and moody, so I started looking around for FKTs I wanted to do,” he said. Not only did he trim around ten minutes off both routes up Table, he did them in two consecutive days. That meant up the Face Trail to the summit and back down one day (time: one hour, 37 minutes) and then up the Huckleberry Trail to the summit and back down the next (two hours, 13 minutes).
“Those FKTs were pretty attainable before. They’re a little more stout now—you’d need to be a pretty good runner to break them,” he said without conceit. The toughest part of either run, he added, was descending the Face at a good clip. “It’s just really steep,” he said, an observation that many a Teton hiker has made.
This year he, Stacy, and a couple friends will tackle the 24-hour Ogre, which will start in Swan Valley; it’s his first non-relay 24-hour race. He predicts that the race directors will put them in boats on the Snake River at night but isn’t certain. (That’s the beauty of adventure racing.)
“I’m such a big fan of this area and I’m trying to do my part as a member of the community in this valley, to support local organizations and businesses,” Hosek said.
That support recently expanded when Stacy, an accomplished swimmer, took the position of executive director of Teton Valley Aquatics; she’ll help the nonprofit continue to plan for an aquatic facility and provide water safety courses to local kids.
“Yeah, we love this place,” Hosek reflected.