Let's get physical. GLUTEUS MAXIMUS, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, MAX FACTOR
About 6 years ago, I founded the Bend Adventure Racing Klub (www.BARKracing.com). We were assembling Team BARK to race our first 24-hour Cal Eco event. Dave Schneider and Tom Schill were committed, and I was our token female, but we needed a third guy. We "interviewed" two candidates, including Max King. None of us knew Max, but he had expressed interest. He was very young and very understated, but there was something about him we liked, so we chose him. A few days later, we all piled into Dave's truck, pulling a trailer brimming with gear behind us, and headed out on the long drive to Central California. I remember our first rest stop about three hours later. As the rest of us stiffly climbed out of the truck, Max took three long graceful strides and hurdled a nearby picnic table. We all looked at each other with astonished expressions and wondered just who we had signed up. As it turned out, Max was a recent Cornell graduate who had been a stellar collegiate steeplechaser. Burned out on the track and field regimen, he wanted to try something new. I can tell you, Max is a stellar adventure racer too. There were times he had our entire team in tow, and he weighed less than any of us. He has an unflappable nature (extremely useful in adventure racing!) and he is bright, quickly mastering the art of navigation. After a couple of years having fun with adventure racing, Max returned to competitive running and dedicated himself the past two years to training for the Olympic steeplechase. He took time away from his job at Bend Research and away from his wife Dorie, living and training in Eugene. Too often in our lives we don't chase our dreams. Max finished sixteenth in the Olympic Trials in Eugene last week, but in my mind he's a hero just for giving it a go.
Recently, a very good friend of mine with a family history of breast cancer decided to undergo genetic testing to determine if she carried the gene for the disease. Although her twin sister did not have the gene, Amanda did, which means she has an 87 percent chance of developing cancer. She faces some really tough choices, and I can only imagine the burden she now carries. Yet I wholeheartedly believe that she will use the dire information to empower herself and "live strong." Two weeks ago, I was mountain biking on Phil's Trail past the Flaming Chicken. There was something new hanging on the chicken, so I stopped to check it out. It was a tribute to local athlete Jeannette Sullivan, who passed away recently from pancreatic cancer. Jeannette was a triathlon goddess; she competed in 16 Ironman races, including eight in Kona (Hawaii) where she asked to have her ashes spread after the final person crosses the finish line. The only time I ever met Jeannette was very briefly at the Tour des Chutes last year, where she was riding with friend Dagmar Eriksson a couple of weeks after being diagnosed. "She was a very strong spirit, full of life and energy," said Eriksson. The Tour des Chutes, with routes of 7 miles to 100 miles to be held July 19, is a great ride for a great cause: the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the St. Charles Cancer Survivorship Program. Last year the Tour des Chutes had over 800 cyclists and raised over $65,000. For more information visit www.tourdeschutes.org or call (971) 235-2120.
THE GORGE GAMES ARE BACK!
The Gorge Games, sort of the X-Games of Oregon, began in 1994 and has a history of being one of the most dynamic, exciting action and outdoor sports events in the Pacific Northwest. After losing their title sponsor in 2003, the Games disappeared. They are back for 2008 with adventure racing, riverboarding, windsurfing, kiteboarding, kayaking, outrigger canoe racing, sailing, skateboarding, mountain biking and running competitions, as well as live bands, beer gardens and an adventure village. The games take place July 17-20 in Hood River and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Networks August 18-22. Organizers expect at least 1,200 athletes and 20,000 spectators, but are prepared to handle the 40,000 who showed up at the height of the old games. Somehow, I got myself double-booked and will attempt to compete in the 24-hour adventure race as well as the outrigger races that weekend. If there is no column that week, you'll know why! For more information, visit www.gorgegames.net.