I wish I could remember which magazine dubbed Bend, “the outdoor playground of the West.” If I met the journalist who wrote that line, I’d shake her hand and buy her a pint along the Bend Ale Trail and say, “thanks for the awesome phrase I use anytime someone asks me to describe my fair city.”
Bend is indeed a recreation-lover’s paradise, whether you’re a competitive athlete, a casual participant, or just a spectator. Bend’s especially great at hosting top-notch outdoor sporting events, and with prime season upon us, allow me to share the ones I’m most excited about:
Pole Pedal Paddle (May 19)
You’re too late to register for this year’s PPP, but as someone who’s been both a spectator and a participant, I know it can be more fun to watch. Between the hardcore athletes grunting and sweating their way to the finish line and the couch potatoes in goofy costumes competing just to have a good time, there’s a great mix of everything at the Pole Pedal Paddle. The event has been going strong since 1977, and features different legs including alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, biking, running, kayaking, and a sprint to the finish. Some competitors do the whole thing themselves, and others do it relay-style in teams. The first elite athletes start crossing the finish line at 10:35 a.m. this Saturday, and it’s great fun to watch from the footbridge in the Old Mill District or the finish line at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.
Happy Girls Half-Marathon (May 27)
I refuse to run unless I’m being chased, so I’ll defer to Visit Bend’s Marketing Director on this one. Lynnette declares this race to be an awesome, girl-centric event that appeals to anyone from serious athletes to moms looking for a little exercise and female bonding. Finishers get a special necklace, a fabulous goody bag, and as much girl-time as you can possibly pack into a half-marathon. The thing that caught my eye on the Happy Girls Half-Marathon site? This line: Great on-course support including handsome pacers! Almost makes me reconsider my no-running policy.
Subaru Outside Games (June 10-17)
The ultimate celebration of Oregon’s outdoor recreation, this awesome series in Bend has something for everyone. There’s the Foot Zone Dirty Half, Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe’s Pickin’ & Paddlin’, the 2012 Paddle Board Challenge, a Ride & Reach Yoga Clinic with pro mountain biker Ryan Leech, a special Family Day, and much, MUCH more. You can find a complete listing of events on the website and there’s even an all-access pass for $69 that gets you perks like a ticket to see The Dirty Heads,(a 2012 SXSW music festival standout), a Bend Bicycle Film Festival t-shirt, an Outside Games mug & t-shirt, four brew tokens, two Cog Wild shuttle coupons, a Floatchella Float entry, five food tokens, sponsor coupons, and other goodies!
Merrell Oyster Off-Road Adventure Race (June 30)
This is one wacky race, whether you’re a spectator or participant. Teams of 2-4 racers head out on a mystery course ranging from 15-20 miles for 3-6 hours of ridiculous fun. Each course is unique, and includes running, biking, performing strange tasks, solving mind wrenching mysteries, and utilizing technology. Best of all, each racer finishes the day with a refreshing beer at the finish line. Bend Oregon is the only West coast location for the off-road race. Here’s something extra-special about this one – if you have a team and would like to participate, we’re giving away ONE FREE TEAM REGISTRATION! This is for the Bend race only, and the normal fee would be $75. What a deal! Want to win? Leave a comment begging for it and we’ll pick one lucky winner on Wednesday, May 30.
USA Cycling Masters Road National Championships (September 5-9)
Bend has solidified its place as “Bike Town USA” by hosting an unprecedented six USA Cycling National Championships in the last three, years, and we’re contracted to host three more over the next two years. In September, the five-day Masters Road National Championships will kick off with a new time trial course routing through Prineville. The road racing championships will take place over the following couple days with a new course starting at Mt. Bachelor. Saturday’s criterium races will happen in downtown Bend, while Sunday’s criteriums will take place in NorthWest Crossing. In a nutshell, you’ve got oodles of places to catch a glimpse of these bike racers in action. Got a USA Cycling license? You might want to consider registering for this race, since the courses will be top-notch and the scenery spectacular!
LeadmanTri Life Time Epic Triathlon (September 30)
This one’s for the hardcore! Oregon’s first Leadman Triathlon will include a 5k swim across Cultus Lake, followed by a 223k bike trek around Mt. Bachelor, wrapping up with a 22k run along the Deschutes River through Tetherow Golf Club and into the Old Mill District. I feel exhausted just typing all that, so I can’t imagine doing it. If you can, consider signing up for the LeadmanTri Corporate Relay Challenge. If you’re like me and would rather watch, there should be plenty of places throughout the course where you can park your chair and get ample exercise clapping your hands for racers. If you’re kinda in between, consider trying the Leadman 125, a slightly shorter version featuring a 2.5k swim, 111.5k bike ride, and an 11k run. You can do the relay for either the full-length or shortened Leadman race, but keep in mind the team that wins the 250k relay wins the team’s weight in beer from Deschutes Brewery. Bottoms up!
And if you want a taste of what Leadman will be like, check out the video below.