Have you ever been a racer? Racing was new to me when I started racing with the Ashland Rowing Club. I have learned that racing requires a tremendous amount of preparation for a brief period of time! Racing 1000 meters is both the quickest and the longest four minutes I’ve ever experienced. Much of the training focuses on the sprint. In a 1000 meter race the last 250 meters, the last thirty strokes, have to be both your best strokes and your fastest. Race enthusiasm is intense in the boat and on the sidelines. Racers hear yelling and it’s all good, it’s all for our boat, even though we can’t understand a word anyone is saying.
The Siskiyou Challenge is sprinting toward September 25th and I hope you will be a part of it! New racers and volunteers are signing up daily. The Ashland Outdoor Store is brilliantly offering prize gift certificates to the top male and female racers in the solo, pair and team categories. Ashland Food Co-op is filling our shopping list of things we need to fuel our racers. Standing Stone is planning the menu for racers and friends. The generous donations from Bioskin, Project A, Full Circle Realty, DreamSacks, the Krabberød Fund and Hidden Springs Wellness Center are finding their way into race preparations as we obtain route permits and design and order t-shirts!
The actual event starts a week ahead with volunteers planning race day tasks and starting to set out the course: marking the mountain bike course, trimming weeds off the bike path, and packing race info, racer bracelets and other goodies into racer bags for pickup later in the week. Volunteers now include a class from the John Muir School, kids and their teacher pitching in to make this a great event. (I hear that we will see racers from all school categories: students, parents, and teachers!)
Activity picks up the day before the Challenge with setup at ScienceWorks – such a great place to have as our base and main point of celebration! We will be gathering all the gear for the timers and traffic helpers, water jugs and iced tea (Eco Teas) coolers, first aid equipment, slicing up the oranges from Shop n’ Kart, and so many other things we’re still making lists!
Racers and their families will gather the evening before the race in Lithia Park for a picnic barbecue with chicken from Petaluma Poultry, salad from Greenleaf, bread from Munchies, wraps from Dragonfly, and, again, more things we’re still writing lists for!
Race day starts before dawn with the delivery of kayaks and road bikes to Emigrant Lake and mountain bikes to the Lithia Park bandshell, volunteers already up with a cup of coffee from the Roasting Company to watch over the gear and wait for the racers. The Rowing Club will be up setting out the course for the 3K kayaks. Other volunteers, including Southern Oregon University students from the Outdoor Program and KSOC (the student radio station), will be setting up course directions for racers and traffic cautions for drivers all along the race course. Food trays for racer snacks head out to the aid stations along the route!
Racers converge for a 7 a.m. pre-race meeting and take off with the rising sun to run to the lake! Back at ScienceWorks the day starts buzzing with volunteers from United Way Day of Caring registering kids and families for the Fun Run/Speed Walk. Join us if you love Rogue Valley Farm to School but are not quite up to the full Challenge. Artik Creamery arrives; Gabe Stephens sets up his Nautilus Sound system anticipating entertainment by Ashland Taiko and Eight Dollar Mountain as well as the awards ceremony and race day picnic.
Anticipating any race is a lot of work and you stop and wonder why you are training so hard. On a summer Tuesday market morning, it’s easy to remember why. We love the local farms and the connection they make with our schools and our kids. I particularly value Rogue Valley Farm to School as a way to support local farms in a public way. I love that school time includes such a rich exposure to enjoying and growing food. Kids on farms, farms in schools, local farm food for our kids – that’s what this is all about.
Come be a part of the Siskiyou Challenge — our event is enthusiastically hosted by the entire community and open to all, racers, families, friends and everyone! ScienceWorks, September 25th – I hope to see you there!
Deborah Gordon, Race Director
Siskiyou Challenge 2010
(541) 944 – 4118