Many traveled far to race, watch Pole Pedal Paddle

Came from Hawaii, Minnesota, California among others

PPP attracts many from outside C.O.

BEND, Ore. - It's estimated that 70 percent of racers and spectators in the U.S. Bank Pole Pedal Paddle are from Central Oregon, but the rest are from out of the area.

We wanted to find some of them and ask how they heard about the race and why they traveled so far for it.

Tara Schlosser is from St.Paul, Minnesota, and the 37th annual Pole Pedal Paddle was her first.

Her brother-in-law was competing in the race this year for the first time.

"This is seriously amazing," Schlosser said at the big after-party at the Les Schwab Amphitheater. "We were just at the finish line and saw a woman who must have been in her 90s just cross. Bt I love that it is like all ages, all different activity levels -- very cool."

Also visiting from afar: Geoff Ash from Duluth, Minnesota.

If Ash wasn't in Bend already training for Nordic skiing, he never would have known about the race. He missed the deadline to join, but was able to watch it from the sidelines.

"It was sweet," Ash said. "The whole atmosphere of everything is awesome. Being around everyone is a really good feeling."

Some of those who competed in the race might be leaving town with some aches and pains.

"I think it's great," Ash said. "It's going to be a rough afternoon for my legs, and I'm going to be a bit sore tomorrow, but it was a whole lot of fun."

Betty Ramsey last competed in the race 26 years ago, before she moved to Hawaii.

"I'm originally from Oregon," Ramsey said. "I moved to the Big Island 26 years ago to explore different avenues of life."

And in those 26 years, the event has grown from 1,000 to now more than 3,000 competitors.

"It's grown," Ramsey said. "It (Bend) stopped at Pilot Butte. But I mean east Bend has grown, people just have enjoyed it."

While there were several out-of-state residents, many came from cities all across Oregon, like Stephen Cruise of Gaston, who has now competed twice.

"You enjoy the punishment a little bit, and you hope that next time it hurts a little bit less,"  he said. "You have to keep proving yourself that you can do it."

Visitors we talked with said they were happy to either have watched or competed.

"Its nice to be out in snow, being a Nordic skier," said Patrick McElravey, a visitor from Tahoe City, California. "We have no snow (left) in California, so nice being out here."

"It's a great family event and great for individuals and test yourself," said Cruise. "If you're not into testing yourself, then just surround yourself with family and friends."

"I would say I would be coming back to do a leg, but it's highly unlikely," said Schlosser. "But it's plenty fun just being a spectator."

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