Half-marathon participants launch into the Run to the Top. photo by Jerry Baldock
Half-marathon participants launch into the Run to the Top. photo by Jerry Baldock
The Hoodoo Run to the Top 5k and Half Marathon delivered as advertised, as both courses concluded at the tip top of Hoodoo Butte — an arduous one-mile-plus climb.

The Saturday running event drew over 100 entrants in its return to action after being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

About 50 intrepid runners departed the start at 8 a.m. sharp, for the 13.1-mile course under clear blue skies. The course began at the edge of the Hoodoo parking lot near the access to the Nordic trails. The long dry summer made for very loose, dusty conditions for the runners much of the way, which, combined with the very challenging uphill finish meant no one came through with a personal speed record. 

Stefan Ball navigated the course in 1:46.37, just under a minute ahead of runner-up Devin Vanscoy. The top female finisher, Jessica Leigh West, took fourth place overall in a time of 1:59:12. Eric Liddell of Sisters finished sixth overall in 2:03:30. 

All told, 44 runners completed the half-marathon. 

In the 5k run, which began at 9 a.m., youth prevailed. Kelsey Swenson, a graduate of Mountain View High School in Bend and currently a junior at the University of Idaho, won the overall title in a time of 33:38 for the 3.5 mile course, which was a bit longer than an actual 3.1-mile/5-kilometer race. A total of 62 entrants finished the race.

George Roberts, an incoming freshman at Sisters High School, placed fourth overall in 40:04, just behind fellow Sisters resident Colleen Oliver who finished in 38:39. 

After the race, Oliver said, “It was a challenging course, but a lot of fun. It was my first post-COVID race so it was very exciting to be out there and run with a group of people. When asked specifically about the hill to the top she had a one word response: “painful.” 

Roberts said, “It was tougher than I thought it would be. I didn’t expect so much loose dirt. That made it more challenging, and that last part on the gravel road was really steep, but I only walked about 150 yards at the most,” he said.

Roberts’ parents, Katie and John, along with his sister Mary, also took part in the race. 

Race Director Suzy Ramsay explained that the race is the main fundraiser for the Kiwanis Club this year, due to COVID interruptions. 

“Normally, we can start planning for the race in January, but we didn’t get started this year until it was clear we could actually hold the event,” she said. “The Kiwanis Club really came through with virtually every member helping in some way to make it happen.”

Hoodoo, Sisters Saloon, Therapeutic Associates, Les Schwab Tires, and Ray’s Food Place were the main sponsors, and other local businesses chipped in as well, including Laird Superfoods and Bedouin. 

“The sponsors have been so generous to us,” said Ramsey.

Kiwanis members also contributed as individuals, including buying beer from Three Creeks Brewing Co., paying for the porta-potty rentals, and covering some of the cost of refreshments. 

The members did this so that all of the proceeds could be directed to the Kiwanis Club programs that focus on youth, including scholarships, Family Access Network, and other student-oriented projects, according to Ramsay. 

“The funds are all used to help kids in the Sisters community,” she said.