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Young Gun 

Lessons from tomorrow's über athlete

Six grueling races later and Jack Perry, a young, high-energy Bend athlete, still shows no sign of fatigue.

Perry likes to stay active and enjoys competition but is far from cutthroat. For Perry, races are just a good excuse to get outside and go hard.

Perry, I learned, is also a creature of habit. When dining with his father the younger Perry will almost always propose a toast for his upcoming race. The two then laugh, clink glasses and quickly consume the contents of their glasses.

"It became a critical part of our dinner ritual," offered Matt Perry, Jack Perry's father.

Intrigued, I wanted to find out what made the younger Perry tick. When I first met him, I noted he was shorter than I expected—and this from a reporter who's 5 feet 8 inches tall (with shoes). When I asked Perry his age he held up three fingers. I pictured him, post toast, with a milk mustache.

Though only 3, Perry, full of enthusiasm and blond curls, is the only youth to have completed all six of the Struble Orthodontics Kids Rock the Races this year. The well-attended series, which started Feb. 16 with the Little Snow Warriors and ended July 21 with the Balloon Blast kids race, includes events for kids aged 3-10, with three age categories. Perry was competing in the 3- to 4-year-old division and loving every minute.

I know this because I asked him, Do you like the races?

"Yeah!" Perry enthused. He added that the Copa Kids Splash N Dash was his favorite event, "because of the water." The Splash N Dash event did seem pretty fun—water slides, a teeter-totter and climbing wall accounted for a few of the course's obstacles.

Some of the events were as straightforward as a 100-yard dash (1.5 kilometers for the 8 to 10 year olds), but some, like the Splash N Dash and the Bite of Bend's Little Hopper obstacle course, included hay bales, tunnels and even bouncy houses that must be navigated. The Kids Rock the Races events, which drew hundreds of young competitors, are held in conjunction with other adult events and races and are put on by the Source's sister company, Lay it Out Events. Prizes include gift certificates from Cuppa Yo, Leapin' Lizards and FootZone.

Matt Perry and his wif,e Betsy (Jack's parents) moved to Bend from Orange County in 2005 and soon after opened Savory Spice Shop in the Old Mill. The Perrys haven't doubted their relocation to the Northwest, in large part because of the abundance of accessible and healthy outlets available to their three year old.

"We're enjoying the active Bend lifestyle," said Matt Perry, 34, with a smile.

Even though the kids races series is over, the adult races continue. Last weekend, Lay it Out put on the Haulin Aspen Trail Runs, which attracted 537 participants. The next race is the Dirty Girls Half Marathon and 5K run on Nov. 2, staged on trails outside of Sisters.

Go Here!:

Mount Shasta, Calif., an easy three-and-a-half hour drive from Bend, offers phenomenal road riding options for those searching for a dusty singletrack alternative. Most all the nearby NorCal roads provide stunning views of the surrounding Siskiyou County countryside and, with myriad craggy bluffs and extended climbs, the roads there offer Central Oregonians a welcome change in scenery and terrain. It's easy to get there, too (go south on US Highway 97, at Weed, Calif. take I-5 to Mount Shasta). Once in town, head to the outdoor store The Fifth Season (300 N. Mt. Shasta Blvd.) for ride recommendations. I recommend shooting for Mumbo Summit, which means a 3,000-foot climb on a narrow road past a gorgeous river gorge. The short climb to Castle Lake, which ends at a lovely subalpine cirque, is another great option (for riding and swimming and, come winter, backcountry skiing). For a more mellow spin, try traveling south of town on old country roads through the small town of Dunsmuir and toward Castle Crags State Park.

Or here:

Go bouldering. Pleasantly mild evening temps mean increased friction and a welcome change from the 90-degree days of July. No gear? No sweat. Borrow your buddy's crashpad and chalk bag, buy some used rock shoes from Repeat Performance Sports (once you're dialed, head to Mountain Supply and spring for a new pair) and get to it. The Depot, located upstream of Farewell Bend Park on the eastside of the Deschutes, sports a long traverse as well as some ball-tingling classics, including the tall overhanging arete, Ginsu (V5). Across the river and accessible from Mt. Bachelor Village are the Bachelor Boulders. This cluster of rocks also boasts a long, low traverse, and a couple of high ball crack problems.


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