The day when the Tour des Chutes occurs is always Gary Bonacker's favorite day of the year. This year, however, the popular cancer-benefit bike ride was without its biggest proponent. Bonacker, the founder of the event and co-owner of Sunnyside Sports, remains in the Intensive Care Unit, suffering from seizures caused by a brain tumor that Bonakcer has lived with for the last nine years. Though Bonacker remains in critical condition after being admitted to the hospital on July 12, the July 14th benefit event went on and, according to event director Leslie Cogswell, it was a smashing success with approximately 1,400 riders participating—400 more than last year.
The eighth annual ride, which travels toward Smith Rock and offers seven-, 25-, 50-, 75- and 100-mile options, raises money for cancer survivorship and the proceeds go to programs at St. Charles, the Livestrong, the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
This year a three-year-old was youngest rider to complete the seven-mile ride and 93-year-old Jack Welch was the oldest seven-mile participant.
“Excited—that was the mood this year,” Cogswell said. The event director was also approached by several cancer-treatment providers who said that they would like to up their sponsorship next year, ensuring the success of the ride and its mission for some years to come.
After all the riders finished, Cogswell visited Bonacker in the hospital.
“He totally wanted to hear about the event. He just smiled and squeezed my hand—it just means the world to him,” Cogswell said.
Our hearts are with Gary, his wife Susan and daughter Frankie.
Put a King on It
On July 11 local ultrarunner Max King attempted another unthinkable and inspirational “first.” King, along with Brett Yost, another local ultrarunner, set out to summit Mt. Rainier (14,409 feet), Mt. Adams (12,280 feet) and Mt. Hood (11,250 feet) in 24 hours.
The blue-bird day started out well and the pair hauled ass, topping out on Mt. Rainier in 6 hours, 33 minutes. Next up was Mt. Adams; but as the two runners were chauffeured to the next trailhead, their VW Vanagon was reportedly held up by road construction, which threatened to undo their heroic efforts. Once through, they took to the lower flanks of Mt. Adams. Yost lagged but King pushed on, finishing approximately 90 percent of the peak before he bailed back when darkness encroached.
Neither the distance, nor the ambition were new for King, a multi-time Xterra Trail Running World champion and recent Olympic trials participant. Yost is no rookie either. The Bend man, along with David Potter, is the current record holder for the “Five Peak Traverse,” a feat that includes summiting Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, South Sister, Middle Sister and North Sister. Last summer Yost and Potter completed the traverse in 12 hours, 47 minutes, about three and a half hours faster than King's previous record.
Look for King and Yost to finish their Cascade project before the first snowfall of the season.
As it turned out, the three-mountain challenge was just a primer for King who, on July 14, set a new course record at the 14th annual Siskiyou Out Back 50K near Mt. Ashland. King, the previous record holder at the trail run, won the event in 3 hours, 33 minutes, 11 seconds. Bend's Scott Gage also had a strong race and finished fourth in 4 hours, 6 minutes, 46 seconds. Two-time P.P.P champ Stephanie Howe won the women's 50-miler in 7 hours, 34 minutes, 35 seconds. (There were 50-mile, 50-kilometer and 15-kilometer options).
Fun in the Land of the Midnight Sun
In June, avid endurance racer Pam Stevenson and expert paddler Karen Holm teamed up in a tandem kayak to race in Canada's 444-mile Yukon River Quest. Racing under the team name, “This Ain't No Mirror Pond,” the pair finished the marathon paddling event in 54 hours, 33 minutes. In all, 54 of the original 58 teams finished.
In order to beat the time cutoffs, racers had to paddle day and night before reaching the finish line in Dawson City, Yukon. Starting in Whithorse in the southern Yukon, the Yukon river runs north following some of North America's most scenic and rugged terrain.
Stevenson said that, in spite of a broken rudder cable which Karen “MacGyvered” in the middle of the night, paddling under the midnight sun was the most memorable part of the epic event.
To celebrate, the pair embarked on a five-day sea kayak trip in the headwaters of the Yukon.