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home : sports & recreation : sports & recreation October 15, 2018

8/1/2017 5:16:00 PM
"Challenge" is real in Hoodoo race
Emma Peel was the top women’s finisher. photo by Charlie Kanzig
+ click to enlarge
Emma Peel was the top women’s finisher. photo by Charlie Kanzig

By Charlie Kanzig

The Hoodoo Challenge Run to the Top half-marathon lived up to its name on Saturday, July 29, as nearly 100 brave souls not only agreed to run 13.1 miles on dusty and rocky trails, but to finish that run with a 1.9-mile climb up to the top of the Hoodoo summit.

The second edition of the Sisters Kiwanis event took a big jump in registration, and the hospitable service club's efforts did not disappoint the participants' despite the rigors of the course.

"The race was actually brutal to be honest, but the organizers did a fantastic job and took good care of us," said one runner. "As far as the course is concerned, there's just no reprieve."

While plenty tough last year, Saturday's race provided additional challenges. The 2016 race took place in early September. Temperatures were cooler and it had rained a bit prior to the event. Hotter temperature and changes in the course that included more loose dirt than last year took their toll. The champion of the 2016 race, Nick Scalfone, won again, but his time was about five minutes slower.

Scalfone, of Bend, ran most of the race with second-place finisher Dennis Brands, but when they got to the base of Hoodoo, they wished each other well and Scalfone ultimately prevailed in 1:34:20 to 1:39:42 for Brands.

"We ran together from about the five-mile mark, but from the aid station before the climb to the top we just wished each other good luck and headed toward the summit," said Scalfone. "Things worked out great though because my Cascade Lakes Relay team was short a man, but Dennis agreed to join our team, so that's awesome!"

Third place overall went to Nathaniel Gunderson in 1:43:25.

The women's winner looked quite chipper after the race as she walked back down the hill to join her mother in her ascent. In her first half-marathon, Emma Peel did not expect to win, but she led from start to finish, defeating last year's champion, Bryn Singleton of Sisters, by just over three minutes with a time of 2:09:36. Singleton clocked 2:12:40 and third place went to Kathy Fecteau in 2:18:20.

"This was my first half-marathon, and it was really fun but really tough and the last two miles just murdered me," she said. After her win, Peel walked back down the mountain to meet her mother, Anne, and walked back up to the finish with her.

The victors each went home with a season pass at Hoodoo in reward for their winning efforts.

Lauren Wisniewski and Sarah Courtney from Corvallis took the challenge in stride, smiling brightly on their way back down the hill to the post-race festivities.

"The sand was surprising, and we had to dodge some motocrossers and ATVs, which kicked up a bunch of sand, but you can't beat the beauty of this course. It was great and we plan to come back," said Wisnewski.

Race director Suzy Ramsay and the many volunteers from the Kiwanis Club of Sisters got praise from runner after runner for the good care the participants received both during and after the race. The Camp Sherman Hasty Team (Search and Rescue) helped sweep the course and provide aid to runners.

Cold drinks and watermelon provided welcome refreshment at the top and a full meal of barbecue beef sandwiches and all the fixings greeted runners in the shade of Hoodoo Lodge, which helped runners replenish energy spent on the course.

Proceeds from the race go to the many charitable projects supported by the Sisters Kiwanis, including the Food Bank and scholarships for graduating seniors from Sisters High School.

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